Empowerment: to promote the self-actualization or influence of.
What does empowerment have to do with substance abuse prevention? We tend to look at prevention as something that only professionals can do, but prevention begins with us as parents and continues through the lives of our children, grandchildren… It is preparing our youth to safely, successfully, and effectively navigate the obstacles that they will face at all stages in their lives. Prevention is everyone’s responsibility, parents, neighbors, schools, businesses and community sectors.
At home: Children need to feel that they have a place, role and responsibility to their family and home it gives them a sense of belonging when they contribute. Start out by working together with your child to pick up his/her toys, have them help you in the kitchen making cookies or supper, work them up to taking care of their own space, and so on…. It won’t always be easy how many times have you not wanted to make up your bed or wash dishes. When your children have tasks and responsibilities at home he/she will be better prepared for their first job.
My first job outside the home was De-tasseling corn in the summer it was one of the hardest jobs available for teenagers, and I am still not only proud of that accomplishment but have been know to brag about it too. No cushy fast-food job for me lol. That sense of accomplishment, responsibility and acceptance as a productive member of society was empowering and a memory that I will never forget. How many of today’s youth do you know who are proud to be working, or are they even working? Some would say that with everything youth are given today TV’s, video games, cars, phones etc… what do they have to work for? Do they really need all of these things? How much more would they appreciate, respect and take care of these things if they had had to work to acquire them?
Our children’s contributions can also extend into the community. Service to others is a great way to teach your youth the importance of giving and when they give they get back. I remember my mom taking my brother and I to a nursing home to help the elders when they were playing bingo I loved feeling useful, important, and needed. It is a memory that I hold close to my heart . As a parent I have learned that what we want and expect from our children must be role-modeled, or they will look at it as something that we are making them do. For example: I enjoyed helping out at the nursing home, because it was something that my mom did with me, I also remember hating doing dishes, because I was left doing dishes alone while everyone else was watching t.v. I didn’t feel a part of the family, because I was the only one doing work. When my children were growing up I often either had them help me around the house, and/or helped them with their chores, at least in the beginning.
Empowering our children to contribute, to make decisions, and to serve others is an important asset that they will remember and use for the rest of their lives. How can you empower someone in your family, school, neighborhood or even at work?