I have recently been poring over a list of 40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents, published by the Search Institute and mentioned in the U.S. Catholic bishops’ document, "Renewing the Vision." These developmental assets are building blocks of healthy development that help adolescents grow up healthy, caring and responsible. The list includes 20 external assets and 20 internal assets. As a mother, I appreciate the list’s clear and concise language and the benchmarks it gives me to find areas where my children might need some developmental help. As part of the church community, I appreciate the importance the list places on the need for the community to support and strengthen our families.
The first asset on the list is family support, with the explanation, "Family life provides high levels of love and support." I think that our family does really well providing love and support for each other. As a parent, of course I sometimes fail in showing unconditional love. I get tired and crabby and selfish sometimes. Still, I know how important it is to tell my children (and John) that I am sorry when I act this way and ask for their forgiveness. We have tried to support our children as they have grown and tested out new activities and changes. Sometimes we struggle with what it means to "support" a child who is making choices that we do not think are the healthiest.
It might be easy for a community to place this asset squarely on the shoulders of individual parents. I think it is important, though, for the church community to examine how it can strengthen parents in their ability and resources for loving and supporting their children. Too often, parents are stretched thin in terms of time and energy. I recognize and appreciate that there have been many times when my church family has helped me to grow in my parenting skills.