Ideas for Parents
Easy Ways to Build Assets for and with Your Child
Ten-year-old Susan Kennedy considers 80 year old Mr. Boggs one of her best friends. He was very fond of her, too, and he nicknamed her “Twirly Friend” because she likes to do “wheelies” on her bicycle in his driveway. Mr. Boggs taught Susan how to play checkers, and he once gave her a microscope.
When Mr. Boggs became gravely ill and needed to be hospitalized, Susan mailed him something everyday. Sometimes it was a poem. Other times it was a letter. Sometimes she drew a picture and sent it to him. After a month, Mr. Boggs was able to go home. Mr. Boggs told Susan: “You saved my life. No one else called or wrote and your mailings gave me the courage to live. Thank you.”
Unlike Susan, many young people don’t know their neighbors. They’re scared of their neighbors, and many times, the neighbors are frightened by them. It’s true, some neighborhoods are safer than others, but too many people don’t reach out to each other- even in safe neighborhoods.
Friendships like the one between Susan and Mr. Boggs can only develop when people take risks by acknowledging their neighbors, getting to know them, and taking the time to form relationships. Usually, everyone-no matter what their age-benefits.
How well do you and your children know your neighbors? Do you know their names? Find a safe way to begin getting to know your neighbors, such as National Night Out. But you don’t have to wait; there are other things that you can do. Organize a cookout or a potluck. Greet your neighbors when you see them outside. Take one small step that will introduce your child to your neighbors and introduce you to the young people who live near you.
Youth are more likely to grow up healthy when they experience caring neighbors. 40% of youth surveyed by Search Institute have this asset in their lives.
Your child may be unsure of what to talk about with a neighbor. Encourage your child to use these talk triggers to strike up conversations:
“Communication is a VERY important element, not only among the whole family but also with neighbors, so when you need help they’re happy to help.” -Chicano/Latino parent
“When better communication is required, the neighborhood Somali families help solve a problem if a problem is there.” –Somali parent
1) Be honest about your hopes and fears about your neighborhood. Discuss these with your family-and some neighbors you trust.
2) Meet with a neighborhood group or slowly start a small group if one doesn’t exist. Do activities together, such as creating a community garden.
3) Arrange a get-together so neighbors can meet and mingle.
4) Encourage your child to share with others, for instance, sleds, basketballs, books, or toys.
5) Spend time outdoors in your neighborhood where other neighbors are. Take walks or hang out on your front step.
6) Create a neighborhood welcome wagon of youth and adults.
To encourage neighbors be more caring towards your children, tell a neighbor how much it means to you and your children when he or she acknowledges, smiles at, or greets your children.
Questions to discuss with your child:
ü How often do you talk with our neighbors?
ü What neighbors are easier to talk to?
ü How can we create comfortable and safe opportunities for you to get to know other neighbors?
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Southwestern Spanish Proverb (doesn’t this say this in the Bible too?)