One of my primary responsibilities with my new work at Teen Lifeline is to run counseling groups in various settings for teenagers in crisis, or for those who just want to talk. I have thoroughly enjoyed my opportunities to spend with teenagers on their turf – a place that I consider to be hallowed ground and a privilege to be welcomed. Sometimes it is easy to take for granted that I am allowed to spend time talking frankly with teenagers about their great hurts and fears.
I haven’t done this very long, but a common narrative has emerged during conversations that range from purposed reflection to off-handed remarks as we joke around. While I know I am not breaking any ground when I share these thoughts, I feel it important to remind each one of us who have been given the gift of family.
Because so many of the teenagers I have spoken to over the last few days sing the same song of hurt and disappointment, even if they don’t always realize where the source of the pain dwells.
You hear the same story in the voice of the young man who reflects how special it was to finally have an older man give him the affirming words his dad never spoke to him.
This narrative rings true to the young lady whose parents tell her she is stupid and worthless.
The song resounds with the young man who feels like his family abandoned him so he turned to the streets for the same.
This common narrative screams a truth so often neglected and marginalized:
Brothers and sisters, listen to me. Family is so, so important.
With a crazy week, I don’t have a ton of time to write, so I will make this simple:
Please, find a way to love and affirm your children today. And, if you have spare time floating around find another child or teenager in your purview and do the same. We so often forget and even neglect how important our voice is for a child or teenager.
If we could just realize the power of our influence as parents, we would make a tremendous impact on the lives of our children.
One of the core principals at Sacred Margins is relationships with God and people . If we were to take that seriously, we could invest in relationships with the most vulnerable: the children and teenagers in our scope of influence.
So today, please find some way to affirm and love on your child in a unique way. Be creative. Find some way to speak the truth of their value in this world in God’s eyes and your own.
Let’s start re-writing this broken narrative.