Asset-Building On The
By Thomas M. Lang
It seems like yesterday my kids were just babies when I could
hold and protect them just about 24 hours a day. But today, one
is a full-fledged teenager and the other, waiting to leap the
divide from tween to teen. Neither my wife and I, nor all the
armies of Rome, can ensure their safety around the clock. Their
lives are busy, taking them from school to music lessons, to
choir and orchestra practices, to a multitude of other expectations
and activities. Their lives, like most others their age, are
going at a frenetic pace.
The pace is sometimes energizing, but more often brutal, as
busy parents stretch limb and sanity to keep up with the many
demands of raising children today. In fact, the pace is so fast
that it is quite difficult, if not impossible, to focus on any
one aspect of raising kids. Grades, health issues, friends and
their issues, fear, security, peer influence, religious beliefs,
safety, love -- the list expands light years by the day. It makes
parents dizzy just keeping up with today's issues, let alone
following through on yesterday's.
Recently, a wonderful thing came along to make parenting a bit
more sane, satisfying and secure. It is called the "40 Assets." Perhaps
you have seen a brochure on the counter of a local business,
or heard about the 40 Assets directly from your son or daughter.
It's a list of 40 positive assets that, when carefully seeded
and nurtured in your children, result in teens and adults with
solid core values and healthy engagement in school and community.
Introduced by the Search Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota,
they have been carefully researched and tested over many years.
The assets are divided into "External" and "Internal" assets. "External
Assets" include categories like "Support" of families
and neighbors, and through supportive environments in community
organizations and institutions; "Empowerment," as young
people are made to feel safe and secure, and are given many opportunities
to contribute to the community; "Boundaries and Expectations," which
clearly indicate to young people what is expected of them and
what behaviors and activities are "in bounds" and "out
of bounds"; and "Constructive Use of Time," as
sufficient enriching opportunities are provided for creative
growth at home, in school and through community-sponsored events.
"Internal Assets" include "Commitment to Learning," whereby
young people are nurtured to develop a lifelong commitment to
education; "Positive Values," as youth are taught to
develop strong values to guide the billions of choices they will
make in life; "Social Competencies," so that young
people can equip themselves to build relationships in a world
of diversity; and "Positive Identity," by which children
and teens develop a strong sense of their own purpose, promise
As you can see, these categories are well-rounded and inclusive.
By going to www.search-institute.org <http://www.search-institute.org/>,
you can acquire a copy of the 40 Assets and discover how each
one applies to promoting positive and healthy growth in your
sons and daughters. You'll also find a wealth of resources, many
of which are geared to parents and offer creative ways to use
the assets. You may want to inquire through your schools and
community youth organizations about the existence of a40 Assets
initiative in your community.
The 40 Assets are simply the things your grandparents taught
your own parents. In your rush to keep up with a more complicated
set of dos and don'ts in raising kids, the 40 Assets help you
do the best you can, on the run.
Thomas M. Lang is a pastor, musician and storyteller focusing
on raising the best kids he can at home, at church and in the
community. He lives with his wife, Susan, an author and pastor,
and their tween and teenage daughters in Perkasie (Bucks County),
Pennsylvania. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.