Regular readers of these columns know that I pull a lot of material from the Renewal Center’s Parent Café programs, which are based at least in part on the 40 Development Assets of the Search Institute out of Minnesota. Today, I’d like to draw on other research the Search Institute has conducted, specifically, how relationships affect the development of children and young people.
According to the Search Institute, “Young people do best when they experience strong, positive relationships in all parts of their lives.” The institute has identified five elements that make relationships powerful in young people’s lives: Express Care, Challenge Growth, Provide Support, Share power and Expand Possibilities.
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Relationships are important in all of our lives. However, in the lives of young people, they can be life-changing. This pandemic has taught us how important it is to help each other build resilience in stressful times. In 2020, resilience has truly been tested in our youth. It has brought our own set of challenges, to say the least. It has brought me to my knees a lot more! Looking back over the year, the pandemic has impacted every single person around you: in your home, family, friend group, community and literally the entire world!
This year will look undoubtedly different to all of us. As parents, we can nurture resilience and that is where the relational framework comes to play. Let’s take a closer look at the first one, Express Care.
Expressing care is very important to the giver and the receivers. For example, if you show your young person that you care just by your actions it can make a world of difference to him or her. Calling my son, who is a senior in college, during finals week and praising him for his efforts and achievements, is one way that I show I care. Maybe you can come up with something unique for your child too. Sometimes encouragement is all they need.
Being prepared to listen and pay attention to your child is often another way of showing how much you care.
I like to take my youngest child out for an ice-cream treat or coffee when he’s feeling a bit overwhelmed with virtual learning, COVID and everyday battles in life. This allows him to get out and go for a drive and let him open up about what he is feeling. I take time to listen and let him express his emotions.
Examples like this are ways we as parents and leaders can connect with and help our children grow. Providing this support can help them sort out confusions and stressors that might be going on in their minds and worlds. Supporting our youth will help them achieve their goals and complete tasks. This in turn empowers them to take charge and build confidence and self-esteem.
All the articles in the Family Matters series are available here.
What our children need right now is a sense of security and love. The world around us looks a bit different this year, and the reality of it can be overwhelming. For our youth, it can be scary. The best thing we can provide them with is a sense of predictability. What does this look like? Well, it is different for everyone.
First, focus on what you can control. Practice gratitude and emphasize what really matters and what and who is important in your lives. I encourage you and your families to love one another and hold on to precious moments that turn into memories. Consider each other’s thoughts and opinions, not only during these crazy Covid days but every day. As we begin a new year, let’s remember: Be PRESENT, Be KIND, Be LOVE!!
[Lucia Ferrara is the Director of Hospitality at Precious Blood Renewal Center and the lead organizer here of Parent Cafes. Share your thoughts with Lucia or ask her questions by using the form below or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more about the Parent Café here.]