AT-RISK… What does it mean?

I was visiting with my son and grandson last week when I was given this challenge. My son told me that he had been reading my blogs and thought they were really good except for one thing. He told me that he knew what I was talking about when I would use the term At-Risk but others may not. He then challenged me to explain what I meant by At-Risk. He made a great point and my first thought was, no problem! Then I began to think that this term was more difficult to explain than I had first thought it might.

Over the last week it was on my mind to explain in great detail that an At-Risk teen looks like or acts like. Then I had the thought that the parent can be At-Risk as well. Now I am lost in thought and not sure that I know what I am talking about. How do I explain this? It wasn’t until last night that an explanation hit me. My wife and I started binge watching a show on Netflix called Shameless. This is about the most dysfunctional, crazy and down right twisted family on television. We both were making comments about how whacked out some of the scenes were. Don’t get men wrong it is a very funny show but it has a serious message. I had the thought of what if this family was in real life. Would the state step in determine that it was simply not normal?

So here is what I came up with. At-Risk means that whatever is normal for you becomes skewed or whacked out by an exterior force that upsets your normal. You see I can’t tell you what At-risk means to you. What I can do is share with you what it means to me and some ways that I address it. It is then up to you as a child or parent to determine if the activity or behavior is one that would put your normal at risk. The beauty of behaviors is that they are individual just like fingerprints. They belong to you and nobody else. We as parents have the responsibility to identify if our children are behaving in an At-Risk manner that will cause them some type of harm if the behavior is continued.Here is the cool thing, it is a two way street. Parents can behave with At-Risk behavior that will hurt the family as well as themselves. This is why it is important to know yourself and to be honest with yourself.

At-Risk is a personal thing. I don’t have the magic bullet that will solve all issues. I do have a lot of experience with children and parents and the behaviors they display. I will do my best to help and give good advise but the answers are up to those involved in the risky behavior to solve the puzzle. At-Risk is basically a term give to label behaviors or a simple warning to change your current path of travel.

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