Youth Focus

Youth Focus
Deal or no deal

This is a tough column to use this week and write. Many of you recognize that Extension in South Dakota works closely with CHARACTER COUNTS! Kari Freuchte is our specialist who writes columns for the educators to utilize. I like this column because the issue relates to every parent, mentor, guardian, grandparent raising grandchildren and foster parent. As I was thinking about the decision-making process, as adults missing deadlines � is this good character building?

The teenage years are well known for their trials. They are definitely years when young people start to make many decisions on their own. In May, the CHARACTER COUNTS! focuses on decision making.

After learning about the Six Pillars of Character all through the school year, students now focus on using them to make wise decisions. In the following story, we see a good example of a teenager testing the limits and making a poor decision.

Sarah's mom agreed to let her 16-year-old go to a party if she promised to be home by midnight. But as the clock ticked away, Sarah decided the fun she was having was more important than the risk of getting grounded. When she arrived home at 2 a.m., her mom was waiting up, relieved that Sarah was safe, but very angry that she had broken their deal.

"Breaking your word was bad enough," her mom said, "but how could you be so cruel and selfish not to call and let me know you were safe? I was worried sick."

Sarah made another poor choice and argued with her mother about the curfew being unfair, and saying it was silly for her mother to worry when she was perfectly safe.

Ultimately, this issue is not about curfews and parties; it is about trust and credibility. Sarah's lack of regret at causing her mother to worry, and her failure to admit she made a mistake only made things worse. She was responsible for making a poor decision that damaged her relationship with her mother. The trust that was present in their relationship before has been lost, and will likely take a long time to restore.

In a nutshell, Sarah did not act with good character. She was untrustworthy, irresponsible, disrespectful and unkind. Her decision seemed minor at the time, but led to major consequences. All of us, teens and adults, could use practice in thinking out our decisions before acting in the moment.

Communicate with your teens about their decisions and the affects this has on others. For more information contact your local Extension office.

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