Love is a Life Skill
A Study of Love in a Hawaiian Transitional Housing Program
Keywords:Hawaiʻi, Native Hawaiian, culture, aloha, transitional aged-youth, systems-involved youth, opportunity youth, life skills, executive functioning, communication, foster care
Love comes in many shapes and may be directed in many directions, be it to oneself, a romantic partner, oneʻs family, the community, and so forth. In Hawaiian culture, one of the most important values is aloha. More than a simple greeting, it is love with all its depths and complexities including pilina (relationships) and ʻōiwi (native intelligence), among many other values. This article describes how aloha as love was taught and reinforced as a life skill for ʻōpio (young adults) living in a transitional housing program in Hawaiʻi. ʻŌpio who have lived experiences with systems such as foster care, juvenile justice, and houselessness often lack the life skills to manage daily life and maintain supportive relationships, leading to cycles of struggles as adults. Yet they have a great capacity for love that can be honed into life skills such as communication, emotional regulation, boundary setting, and reconciliation. This paper tells the moʻolelo (stories) of ʻōpio learning the life skills of love and the staff who sought to build an ʻohana-like (family) community.
Benbenishty, R., & Zeira, A. (2012). On the Verge of Leaving the Care System: Assessment of Life Skills and Needs of Adolescents in Care.
Blakeborough, D., Gibson, K., & Robson, J. (2014). Homelessness and Low-Barrier Housing in Chilliwack: A Qualitative Research Report (p. 46). Chilliwack Social Research and Planning Council.
Carrera, P., Jiménez-Morago, J. M., Román, M., & León, E. (2019). Caregiver ratings of executive functions among foster children in middle childhood: Associations with early adversity and school adjustment. Children and Youth Services Review, 106, 104495. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2019.104495
Chun, M. N. (2006). Hoʻoponopono: Traditional ways of healing to make things right again. Curriculum Research & Development Group, University of Hawaiʻi.
City of Portland. (2013). What We Mean by Low Barrier. https://www.portlandmaine.gov/DocumentCenter/View/2286/Intro-to-Low-Barrier
Cutuli, J. J., Goerge, R. M., Coulton, C., Schretzman, M., Crampton, D., Charvat, B. J., Lalich, N., Raithel, JessicaA., Gacitua, C., & Lee, E. L. (2016). From foster care to juvenile justice: Exploring characteristics of youth in three cities. Children and Youth Services Review, 67, 84–94. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2016.06.001
Evans, J. (2011). Exploring the (bio)political dimensions of voluntarism and care in the city: The case of a ‘low barrier’ emergency shelter. Health & Place, 17(1), 24–32. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.healthplace.2010.05.001
Forenza, B., Bermea, A., & Rogers, B. (2018). Ideals and Reality: Perceptions of Healthy and Unhealthy Relationships Among Foster Youth. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 35(3), 221–230. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10560-017-0523-3
Fry, C. E., Langley, K., & Shelton, K. H. (2017). A systematic review of cognitive functioning among young people who have experienced homelessness, foster care, or poverty. Child Neuropsychology, 23(8), 907–934. https://doi.org/10.1080/09297049.2016.1207758
Giffords, E. D., Alonso, C., & Bell, R. (2007). A Transitional Living Program for Homeless Adolescents: A Case Study. Child Youth Care Forum, 36, 141–151.
Hofschneider, A. (2022, December 12). Racial Disparities Vex Hawaiʻi’s Child Welfare System. Can They Be Fixed? Honolulu Civil Beat. https://www.civilbeat.org/2022/12/racial-disparities-vex-hawaiis-child-welfare-system-can-they-be-fixed/
Kamehameha Schools. (2021). Ka Huakaiʻi: 2021 Native Hawaiian Educational Assessment. Kamehameha Publishing. https://issuu.com/kamehamehaschools/docs/ka_huakai_2014
Lausten, M., & Frederiksen, S. (2016). Do you love me? An empirical analysis of the feeling of love amongst children in out-of-home care. International Journal of Social Pedagogy. https://doi.org/10.14324/111.444.ijsp.2017.07
Liliʻuokalani Trust. (2022). Native Hawaiian Wellbeing Update. Liliʻuokalani Trust. https://qlt-trust.cdn.prismic.io/qlt-trust/9ad04bd6-7a5f-4ec7-bb5f-76bd025e272d_2022+NH+Wellbeing+Update.pdf
Lonkar, B. D. (2022). Aged Out Fosters: A Qualitative Descriptive Study of Attachment and Well-Being.
Martin-Grissom, D. A. (n.d.). Foster care adolescents: Examining perceptions of a model resiliency and life-skills training program.
National Park Service. (2017). Foundation Document Overview: Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park (Foundation Document). U.S. Department of the Interior. http://npshistory.com/publications/foundation-documents/puho-fd-2017.pdf
Nnawulezi, N., Godsay, S., Sullivan, C. M., Marcus, S., & Hacskaylo, M. (2018). The influence of low-barrier and voluntary service policies on survivor empowerment in a domestic violence housing organization. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 88(6), 670–680.
Office of Hawaiian Affairs. (2010). The Disparate Treatment of Native Hawaiians in the Criminal Justice System. https://19of32x2yl33s8o4xza0gf14-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/ir_final_web_rev.pdf
Olson, A., Scherer, D. G., & Cohen, A. L. (2017). Decision-making skills of emerging adults aging out of foster care. Children and Youth Services Review, 82, 81–86. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2017.09.023
Pedersen, E. R., Tucker, J. S., & Kovalchik, S. A. (2016). Facilitators and Barriers of Drop-In Center Use Among Homeless Youth. Journal of Adolescent Health, 59(2), 144–153. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2016.03.035
Perez, B. R., Jan. 10, 2016, tab, O. in a new, tab, O. in a new, tab, O. in a new, & tab, O. in a new. (2016, January 10). Hawaiians at risk: Keiki locked in cycle of foster care system. Honolulu Star-Advertiser. https://www.staradvertiser.com/2016/01/10/hawaii-news/special-report-hawaiians-at-risk-keiki-locked-in-cycle-of-foster-care-system/
Shah, M. F., Liu, Q., Mark Eddy, J., Barkan, S., Marshall, D., Mancuso, D., Lucenko, B., & Huber, A. (2017). Predicting Homelessness among Emerging Adults Aging Out of Foster Care. American Journal of Community Psychology, 60(1–2), 33–43. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajcp.12098
State of Hawaiʻi Department of Human Services. (2019). Hawaiʻi Data Booklet 2015–2019: ASPR Final Report FFY 2020 & Child and Family Service Plan 2020-2024. Social Services Division.
Tucker, J. S., Pedersen, E. R., Parast, L., & Klein, D. J. (2018). Factors associated with drop-in center utilization among unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness. Children and Youth Services Review, 91, 347–354. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2018.06.027