Family Matters Article #8: Empowerment

By Lucia Ferrara

Empowerment is one of the building blocks of development that helps young people grow up healthy, caring and responsible, according to the Search Institute, a Minnesota-based organization that researches and promotes positive youth development.

Empowerment for young people can mean different things to different people.

Our community values youth as resources, and they can be a service to others. As our children are given useful roles in the community, they need to feel safe anywhere they go and whomever they are with. When young people feel respected and safe, they also feel valued and valuable to others. This in turn empowers them.

All the articles in the Family Matters series are available here.

Empowerment helps build self-esteem. Self-esteem helps build confidence. Confidence is what children need to take charge of their lives at an early age and as transition into adulthood.

I ask myself how can I help empower or encourage my own children or other children in my community? This is sometimes overlooked by many adults. I feel when our youth are empowered, they tend to act as if they are important not only in their own lives but in the lives of others as well.

Confidence is what children need to take charge of their lives.

One way I like to encourage my children is by praising them on a job well done, maybe for a test they took at school or a drawing they made in art class. I also praise them for their efforts even when they tend not to do well on a test, because that test score does not define who they are as a person.

As parents we need to be intentional in our words and actions.

Parents set the example, we are their first teachers. We need to honor and listen to your child’s voice and opinions. We need to be willing to share ideas and be honest in communicating with our kids. This lets them know that we care and we take them seriously. This allows the child to build skills where they come critically aware of society and gives them an opportunity to positively impact the lives of others, themselves and even organizations they are involved in.

Building a better tomorrow is so important in our society and it obviously starts with our youth.

The Search Institute’s “40 Developmental Assets” framework consists of positive experiences and preventative measures that help young people grow up happy, healthy and responsible.

According to the Search Institute, “The more assets a child has, the higher probability that child will not be involved in behaviors such as: teen pregnancy, school dropout, substance abuse, delinquent or violence.”

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Let’s start by empowering our youth by listening to them and asking them what they think. If you don’t agree with their opinion or ideas, that is OK. Working together can make a huge difference in everyone’s life.

Here are a few reflections I would like to leave you with

  1. At dinner with your family, ask your child’s opinion about something in the news or recents events. Listen carefully and discuss the topic.
  2. Brainstorm ways for you and your child to get involved in the community to use their voices and ideas. This can look like writing an article in the school newspaper, forming a church camp for kids or even bringing food to shut-ins.
  3. Have a discussion on safety in your house and community. Set boundaries. Maybe even create and practice a fire escape plan!

Until next time.

[Lucia Ferrara is the Director of Hospitality at Precious Blood Renewal Center and the lead organizer here of Parent Cafes. Share your thoughts with Lucia or ask her questions by using the form below or sending an email to Read more about the Parent Café here.]

Top image by Natalia Lavrinenko from Pixabay. Second image by John Hain from Pixabay


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