Monday, April 7, 2014

Shaping the Future

Working with youth is a huge responsibility.  It really is and it takes a special someone to do it.  It's not all fun and games, it's not just you talking and them listening, it's not just you trying to get your point across.  ("You" being any person working with youth, myself included.)

Young people have a mind of their own.  They have thoughts and ideas that are being developed.  They are finding their way and we can try to gently guide them but it is a rocky road.  You can't be too pushy, you can't tell them they HAVE to think this way or they CAN'T think that way.  You can have discussions and you can ask questions but you have to let them find their way. Sometimes, they may never agree with you and that's okay.

Youth are naturally rebellious.  They are growing into the adult they are going to become.  They are wanting to be that adult way too soon. They WANT to figure things out on their own.  They want to feel like what they say and think matters to those around them, even if you disagree with them give them some credit, give them some respect. They need it.

We have the opportunity when working with youth to make a difference in the future of our world.  Right now, we have a lot people fighting over their opinions showing little respect to each other, seldom giving people with different opinions from theirs any respect.  There are so many out there right now who are passionate about their opinions, and that is good, but not to the detriment of others.  By this I mean, it's all a matter of opinion and no one opinion is right or wrong. This is something we need to be showing and teaching our youth.  We need to show that you can share your opinions and disagree without making anyone feel bad.  We have the opportunity to teach kids, youth that we need to respect one another's opinions.

The responsibility that comes with working with youth is great.  I haven't mentioned that it means you are a role model ALL the time.  They watch your every move.  That doesn't mean you can't make mistakes, it just means that you need to be able to own up to them, to talk about them and be willing to be real with them.

The old proverb says to bring up your children right and it will stay with them when they are old (Sherri's translation. :).  As a person who works with youth, you play a huge part in this.  Are you really watching how you behave around them?  Are you noticing what is working and what isn't?  Are you noticing when the group is starting to gang up on one youth who has a different opinion? Are you making sure that you aren't helping that to happen? Are you really looking at and seeing the youth in your care?  Or are you pushing your agenda no matter the cost?  Sometimes, no, all the time, the Youth is more important than the lesson.  Showing respect is teaching respect, being open minded teaches open mindedness, showing love teaches love.

We'd be good to be doing this all the time where ever we are, with whom ever we are with.  Working with youth is an opportunity to shape the future of our world.  And we need to take it seriously.

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