Do we really have an ‘afluenza’ epidemic?
Ryan Summerlin January 3, 2014
If you are keeping up with recent news, you likely have heard about the young man, age 16, who a psychiatrist labeled as having “afluenza” after drinking and driving and killing 4 people. He used the term in an attempt to provide reasoning for how this young man had difficulty in truly understanding the consequences of his actions because he was simply too wealthy.
Is it true that if you have too much money, you loose your ability to experience consequences? Are you not able to make the connection that our choices undeniably lead to certain results whether intended or not? I wonder if what we are doing is just yet again, blaming something else for our behavior. If we blame our decisions on money, what stops us from blaming the computer, our boss, our kids or the dirty refrigerator for our life’s problems?
When we reach outside of ourselves to make sense of why our life is the way it is, we loose the great privilege of taking control over our lives and being 100 percent responsible. My question then is what can we do as parents, teachers, and coaches, to help teach our children what it means to take personal responsibility?
At YouthZone we work with young people every day and most of the kids are involved in the court system. The kids who come to us and say, “Man, I screwed up bad”, are much more likely to move into a healthy space faster than the kids who say, “It wasn’t my fault”. Likewise the parents who allow their kids to take responsibility for their choices help the kids move more quickly to healthy space.
As parents, we model taking responsibility whether it is for our dirty refrigerator or being late for work. We can stop placing blame on just having too much to do or not having enough money and we can start speaking like we have control over our lives.
Another easy way to teach personal responsibility is to allow the natural moments every day to do the teaching. When your child runs out of the house and forgets their lunch, you allow the natural consequence of going hungry to happen. When your child leaves their football helmet at home and has to sit out practice, you stand by with an empathetic hug and don’t race across town to pick up his helmet. It may seem like hard work having to watch your child in tears but in the end they will recognize the power they have in their lives.
YouthZone’s work is to support youth and their families through counseling, family mediation, teen discussion groups, and so much more. Please call us if you would like to have the strongest family you ever imagined. YouthZone can help you get there. 970-945-9300.
— Lori Mueller is executive director for YouthZone.