Working with youth has a lot of rewards, but can also be very challenging. As caring adults in the life of young people we believe in the power of relationships to help us connect with kids. Relationships are a two way street and we must be willing to put into it just as much as we expect to receive in return. If we expect our youth to open up about themselves, we should be willing to open up as well. Now, we do expect there to be boundaries and there shouldn’t be a time where you use your youth as your support network. However, when we can give the youth we work with a place of honor in our lives, an inside scoop to our important moments, it shows them they matter, they are valued, and they are cared for.
For my wedding, we invited a whole bunch of youth we work with. It was a blast, and we all danced our butts off. We just found out we are expecting a baby, we found a fun way to break the news to the youth we work with. These moments are big moments in the life of anyone. Youth, however, are often some of the last to hear about these things. What if they were first?
When we prioritize youth in our lives, they see that they are a priority.
Social media allows us to demonstrate this in an easy way. It seems like youth live by the old adage “If it isn’t posted on Instagram, does it even matter?” When you go out with a bunch of youth, share about it. It lets youth know that you are present and that they are an important part of your life. In return, get ready for youth to share news with you, open up in a new way and engage the programs you are building with a passion.