I’m going to put myself out on a limb here and announce that one way to solve many of the problems in the world would be for circles of adults to provide on-going emotional and practical support for children. This continuing support for children would turn into a circle of support for teenagers – in the vein of Dorian’s description of appropriate adolescent support in her comment from yesterday’s post: by listening and helping them process their lives, but mostly by listening. This could eventually lead into a group of older adults mentoring younger adults on a whole host of issues, including their work environment and parenting skills. And then…I have to admit, I’m pretty excited about this…the young adults who were mentored by this fantastic group of older adults could turn around and provide similar support each other’s children.
I wonder if I could patent this idea? Claim it as mine, charge a fee for anyone who wants to use it.
No, wait, I forgot, people have been using this model for centuries. It’s called creating a community. And somehow we’ve broken the generational link – partly because we all move so much, partly because we’re freaked out by teenagers, and partly because we’re so focused inwardly that we don’t pay attention to other people’s families any more. But the desire for community is still so strong. I hear laments from adults almost every day about how they wish things were different, about how they wish for an intergenerational community.
Here’s the deal, folks: go out and make it happen! Start meaningful conversations with just one kid or teenager that don’t have anything to do with school. Then keep it up. Indefinitely. It will revolutionize your life. Not to mention the life of the kid.
I love how you have mentioned several times to start converstations that don’t have anything to do with school. Usually, that is all adults can think to ask kids about. Teens are usually thoughtful and are likely to know as much about public affairs as you do – ask who they are supporting for president! Teens usually think deeply about the meaning of life and are able to talk about religious and spiritual matters if they do not expect to be judged by you (so prime the pump, talk about some of your own thoughts, misgivings, beliefs in this arena before asking any questions – then just ask – What do you think?) Teens (and most children of all ages) are used to being ordered around and talked down to. If you just talk to a teen as if they were a normal person (because they are) they are likely to like you just for that reason and then you will be able to get to know a whole new person. Teens expect the adults they relate to to be able to stay present and talk in a way that many of us have not done since we were, well, teenagers. Give it a try again – it’s exhilerating!
Thank you for bring up the topic of community–So important in today’s changing world. Great article, Karen.
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