SOUCHERAY: Revisiting the 40 AssetsIn 2009, one article in this column was devoted to the Forty Assets. I would like to take this opportunity to write a more thorough appraisal of these assets and introduce you, if you don’t already know, to these wonderful guidelines for living.
By: Kate Soucheray, Woodbury Bulletin
In 2009, one article in this column was devoted to the Forty Assets. I would like to take this opportunity to write a more thorough appraisal of these assets and introduce you, if you don’t already know, to these wonderful guidelines for living.
The dynamics of the era in which we are living, like none other, has separated families from grandparents and extended family. The family unit is often raising children without the influence, support and direction of wise grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles and those who can offer advice and suggestions about what worked when they raised their own children. Many parents of today are left to consult friends, favorite Internet sites and magazine articles to guide them in their parenting decisions.
There is another resource, which apparently many parents have not heard of, that offers enlightening suggestions and ideas for helping parents know and understand some of the most significant hallmarks of successful families. It is called The Forty Assets, which were originally identified by The Search Institute of Lutheran Brotherhood.
These Forty Assets, which can be found online at the Search Institute website, delineate the key characteristics that have been identified to help young people resist the pressure to use drugs and alcohol, engage in sexual activity or disregard the importance of school. The Assets are divided into eight categories, each with five subcategories, designed to help a family know what has helped other successful families attain their level of achievement in raising children.
The Forty Assets were first introduced by the Search Institute of Minneapolis in 1995 when Dr. Peter Benson became the president. The Institute, founded in 1958, was originally designed to study positive child and adolescent development, in order that young people would become more aware, conscientious contributors to society. When Dr. Benson took the helm, he was interested in studying how society was raising children to become good citizens who would go on to develop strong, healthy, productive communities.
What the Search Institute has seen is that an average young person generally has about 19 of the 40 assets in place, either at home, at school or in their community. The Institute has found that thirty or more of the forty assets is optimum for a young person to reach adulthood as a positive, contributing member of society. It has also found that when a young person has more of the Assets in place, they are more likely to develop into mature adults, prepared to take on the responsibilities of adulthood.
The Assets, it appears, act as an inoculation or buffer against poor decision-making on the part of a young person. These children or adolescents are more likely to resist the temptation to take drugs, go to parties and drink alcohol or become sexually active when they have more Assets in place. In addition, the young people who have been raised with the Assets are more resilient when facing challenges or difficult situations, in part because they have several caring, concerned adults in their lives, fully invested in their well-being.
A person might say that the Assets are a “no brainer” or a “win-win” for the children or adolescents, the family and the community. In fact, some schools have adopted the Forty Assets and have incorporated them into every aspect of the school community, including the families of their students. It would seem foolish for such a wonderful resource to be sitting in front of us and have us not know about it, or if we do know, not access them. It simply seems irresponsible.
With this in mind, I will write two additional articles in this series which will explain the two kinds of Assets that have been identified as well as the categories and subcategories within each. Essentially, the Assets offer an opportunity to learn those elements social scientists have discovered are necessary for an elementary age child, a middle school student or a high schooler to become the best, most secure person they can be.
If you have time this week, go to the Internet and check out the Search Institute and the Forty Assets and count how many are in place for your family at this time. As you understand Asset Building more fully, you will be able to increase that number, thus ensuring that your children and your family are more secure, mature and happy.
Soucheray is a Woodbury resident.