Developing Independence and Responsibility (DIR)
Overview of the “Developing Independence and Responsibility” (DIR) Module
Over the course of the 6-session (1 to 1.5 hour each session) “Developing Independence and Responsibility” module, youth engage in multiple and diverse exercises strategically organized to encourage them to expand their awareness of their individual power and responsibility to themselves, their families, and the greater community around them.
In this component, youth are asked to examine their current level of personal responsibility in their family life, with an eye toward developing personal independence and responsibility for adulthood. While this component was designed to be used with youth whose parents are concurrently engaged in the adult companion module “Raising Resilient Youth,” it can be used with youth whose parents are not currently involved in any module activity as well.
A Powerful Method Emerges…
Using similar activities as the “Raising Resilient Youth” module for parents, youth are asked to visualize themselves in the future role of parents, co-workers, supervisors or other adults responsible for setting appropriate expectations and consequences for their children or others they may need to supervise in areas of responsibility.
This method has proven useful for several reasons. Youth are often frustrated with feelings of powerlessness, domination, and even low self-esteem as a result of finding themselves on the receiving end of rules, expectations, and consequences. In this module design, we are encouraging youth to visualize themselves in a more equalized or adult level position of power and influence.
This visualization serves as a means of recognizing their potential and affirming our high expectations of them and increases their sense of self-esteem, personal power and personal responsibility. This is accomplished by showing the concrete evidence that we (the adult world), through our expectations that youth will rise to positions of power and influence in later years, recognize their value, power, and worth. As the youthful participants struggle with the difficulties of the parental and supervisory roles, they also gain a greater empathy and sensitivity toward their parents. Many young people find themselves helpfully challenged when asked what expectations they would place on their children with regard to alcohol and drugs, violent behavior, curfews, chores, school work, bedtimes, and several other day-to-day issues in their lives.
Further, participating youth often recognize and appreciate the difficulties their parents currently face within the context of their family. When their parents are concurrently engaged in the “Raising Resilient Youth” module, a new and productive level of household dialogue occurs which enhances a family’s sense of connectedness, competence, and bonding between parents and youth.
The “Developing Independence and Responsibility” Rationale
The basic premises upon which the “Developing Independence and Responsibility” module was developed are as follows:
- No parent can totally control their child’s behavior at all times.
- Young people often respond positively to high expectations.
- Young people often feel validated and respected when they are asked to visualize themselves as successful and responsible adults in future years.
- Responsibility, leadership, and cooperation are learned through years of practice.
- Pain and powerlessness are natural and inevitable aspects of life.
- Voluntary cooperation can be a source of satisfaction and closeness in a family.
- Young people often respond to opportunities to contribute to the well-being of their family and community.
- Young people often respond positively when they feel included in family discussions about expectations and consequences regarding their behavior.
- The “Developing Independence and Responsibility” module operates under the overarching premise that young people gain a deepened sense of fulfillment in their family life when they are treated with respect and expected to behave in a healthy, responsible, and developmentally appropriate manner.
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