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What Will the Future Bring?

What Will the Future Bring?  07/01/16A dear friend of mine recently retired.  He did not celebrate it. There was no party, no cake, no confetti, no fanfare.  In fact, he’s been quite depressed.  His family thinks it is because he doesn’t seem to have any meaningful goals for his future.

This scenario is not restricted to men and women of retirement age.  Unfortunately, it can and does happen to youth, also.  Researchers have identified “seeing oneself as an active participant in the future” as one of the eight essential elements for positive youth development. 

The ability of youth to see themselves in the future translates into them having hope and optimism.  With that, they are more able and likely to make life choices that assist in their transition into the future.

However, some youth don’t see a future for themselves.  Or, they may see a future, but they don’t accept it. When young people believe they don’t have a future, they have no hope, and they are less likely to consider the consequences of their actions.

Parents and/or other caring adults can help youth combat that hopelessness.  For example, they can provide, create, or insist on youth taking advantage of opportunities to tap into, explore, and expand their interests and skills.  Doing so may help the youth to choose career paths and hobbies. Locally, there are opportunities for gardening, 4-H projects and activities, and volunteer experiences.

Hopelessness can also be nipped in the bud by engaging youth in making plans for the coming year, looking forward to being a leader in an organization or club, or when the organization or club shares excitement about a future activity or opportunity.

By encouraging youth to set achievable goals for themselves for five to ten years into the future, adults support the opportunity for youth to participate in the future. Other ways to provide opportunities for youth are:

-  Help them reach some of their goals through programs and projects.

-  Give youth opportunities to develop an idea and see it through to completion.

-  Encourage youth to think positively.

Youth benefit from knowing the future is worth the effort of working for it. 

Adapted from https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/youthdev/yd1482.pdf,  “Eight Elements Essential for Positive Youth Development” Sharon Query, (former) 4-H youth development specialist, NDSU Extension Service an Katie Lefor, (former) graduate assistant, North Dakota Center for 4-H Youth Development,  Essential Elements Curriculum, Essential Elements National 4-H Learning Priority Team.

Photo Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/buckaroobay/3721809183 (downloaded 07/06/16)


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