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40 Assets and Family Dinners

Family eatingThe Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets are the building blocks of development that help children grow up healthy, caring and responsible. According to the Search Institute, studies consistently show that the more protective factors that young people have, the more likely they are to be prepared for life and the less likely they are to engage in high-risk behaviors.

How can I incorporate the 40 Assets in my home?
One way to get things started is to encourage regular family dinners. This is a simple event that has become few and far between in many households. According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), children that eat dinner with their parents regularly are less likely to use drugs, drink or smoke, and that parent/child engagement around the dinner table is one of the most powerful tools in helping parents to raise healthy, drug-free children.

My family has been affected by addiction. Is it too late for us?
No! While it may have been a tougher road for those children who grew up with one or more parents struggling with a substance use disorder, children are very resilient. It is never too late to begin building assets. In these cases, there is a need to boost assets in other areas of the child’s environment. Research shows that children at high risk still have a chance to bounce back and grow up to be happy, confident and successful individuals. It is just a matter of strengthening support in other areas to make up for those that may be lacking. Another important factor is to create and/or maintain family rituals. If these rituals continue, even if parents are struggling with substance use disorders, children are less likely to become involved with alcohol or other drugs.

Protective factors can be provided in the home, school, church, or in the general community.  These factors are divided into two categories, in a total of eight areas:

External: Things that other people provide for youth in the home, school and community:
Support: Young people need to be surrounded by people who love, care for, appreciate, and accept them.
Empowerment: Young people need to feel valued and valuable. This happens when youth feel safe and respected.
Boundaries and Expectations: Young people need clear rules, consistent consequences for breaking rules, and encouragement to do their best.
Constructive Use of Time: Young people need opportunities outside of school to learn and develop new skills and interests with other youth and adults.

Internal: The attitudes, values and capabilities within each child:
Commitment to Learning: Young people need a sense of the lasting importance of learning and a belief in their own abilities.
Positive Values: Young people need to develop strong guiding values to help them make healthy life choices.
Social Competencies: Young people need the skills to interact effectively with others, to make difficult decisions, and to cope with new situations.
Positive Identity: Young people need to believe in their own self-worth and to feel they have control over the things that happen to them.      

Check out the full list of the 40 Developmental Assets and other great family resources here: (40 Developmental Assets) (South Bend Kroc Center “Ideas for Parents” newsletter)
(Search Institute’s “Family Assets List”)
(Parent Further article “Building Family Assets at Home: Ideas for All Family Members”) (CASA study, “Importance of Family Dinners VIII”)

Jessica Schwartz
Prevention Specialist
The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania, Inc.

Bailiwick Office Campus Unit 12, 252 West Swamp Rd. Doylestown, PA 18901 | 215.345.6644


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