Life skills may seem unimportant until we notice they’re missing
By Jená Bellezza
Part of my job is to explain to industry what the Indiana Parenting Institute (IPI) does, and usually in a vernacular that speaks to their interests and concerns. Not an easy task for me, I tell you. I often communicate my concern for those we serve, our desire to help them accomplish, and the success stories we’ve been blessed to be a part of. My passion is obvious, but I’ve learned that more than passion is needed for business buy-in.
“As a business owner, why should I be interested in life skills education?”
Have you ever noticed you don’t realize how important that screw is until it pops out of its place? Happened with my doorknob recently. We don’t realize how important life skills education is to success until it comes up missing.
What is this otherwise anonymous “life skills education” anyway?
I’m glad you asked. It’s the cultural rules and standards currently in effect that result in security and success within that culture. Without this critical information and knowledge, citizens are doomed to make ineffective, even destructive decisions, that not only affect them but indirectly ¾ or directly ¾ affect us all.
Take the life skill of parenting. If parents don’t understand the current cultural norms and rules for achieving success and security, they will not engage in such things as reading to their young children to prepare their vocabulary levels for school success. They won’t teach them, through example, the social skills or behaviors needed to get things accomplished in today’s environment.
When you don’t understand the rules of success, you are relegated to become a burden, whether through dependency or through crime, contributing nothing. This is what happens when the life skills “screw” pops out of place.
Part of the reason for the decline in life skills knowledge is parents are getting younger and younger, and often have not yet acquired this knowledge when they became parents. And as parenting is a full-time enterprise, they often don’t find the opportunity or the outlet to acquire this critical knowledge. Instead, they find their knowledge level restricts them to crisis living, and it’s difficult to get anything accomplished when you exist there. And this is what they end up teaching and passing on to their children, our future.
IPI noted this gap, and decided to provide an outlet to get it re-filled. By educating parents on these cultural rules and norms, on their role to teach them to their children, and on how to make them work for the vision and goals they desire, we see parents getting re-motivated as they realize their dreams are attainable, and understand how to help their children attain theirs as well. As a result, we have seen communities starting to flourish as their residents not just seek, but now know how to improve their quality of life, accessing the education and resources needed to become productive members of their community.
If you are a business, and you see the community in which you are located, and primarily serve, struggling, reach out to community organizations engaged in providing this all-important tool of life skills to community residents. For they noted the “missing screw” and are working to get it back in place, so that the community can return to proper functioning. These organizations have business’ interests at heart, for they are helping to cultivate for you a well-prepared and effective workforce and client base ¾ a wise investment in your business’ future.
Jená Bellezza is marking and community relations director for Indiana Parenting Institute (IPI), a not-for-profit parent education and resource center headquartered in Gary. Belleza helps ensure that IPI is able to serve the entire state of Indiana by building collaborations and partnerships with schools, community organizations, parents, individuals, and the business community in support of parenting education as a viable tool in the protection and advancement of the wellbeing of Hoosier children and families. “There is no greater calling for us at IPI than helping our children and families thrive.”