The second of the 40 developmental assets is Positive Family Communication.
It is defined as "Young person and her or his parent(s) communicate positively, and young person is willing to seek advice and counsel from parents."
Only 31 percent of local youth surveyed in the most recent Profiles of Student Life: Attitudes and Behaviors Survey say they experience this asset. Many things can get in the way of positive communication, but there is one easy step toward opening up the channels: make it a priority.
If you're an adult, consider the following strategies:
Set aside time for communication, such as a family meeting, a family dinner with no distractions, or a "car talk."
Share stories about what life was like for you as a young person (dating, school, family relationships, and so on). Talking about these things may let your children know that you have an understanding of what life is like for them. It may also encourage them to talk about personal issues in their own lives.
Ask young people what they think about important issues in your family life, in the community, or in the world.
If you are a young person, try the following approaches:
Ask your parents for advice sometimes; they'll love to know that you care what they think. If you're having trouble talking with your parents, try writing a letter or asking a trusted friend to be present when you need to have a serious conversation.
If you have siblings who seem to communicate well with your parents, ask them for tips or advice.
Thought for the week: Whether you are an adult or young person, communication is an absolutely essential ingredient for a happy and healthy family relationship.
Ian Eastman, M.A., is a community educator with Family Services of Warren County-a charitable agency that provides counseling, substance abuse services, and support groups. This article was adapted from Get the Word Out: Communication Tools and Ideas for Asset Builders Everywhere with permission from the publisher.