What does a Healthy Youth/Adult Relationship Actually Look Like?
In every training or conversation with adults working with youth, Evin Carvill-Ziemer, Congregational Life Staff in the Central East Region of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is peppered with questions like these:
"I want the youth to lead, but they don’t know what they want to do, so I end up organizing activities by default—how can I change this?"
"My youth have great ideas, but their lives are busy and they drop a lot of balls—how can I help without nagging or taking over?"
"I’m never sure how much of my life to share with youth—I want to be real, but I’m also the adult—where’s the line?"
That is why Evin and Eric Bliss, Youth Ministry Staff in the UUA Pacific Western Region are facilitating a webinar on October 11th at 1:00pm EDT, which will be repeated on October 12th at 8:00pm EDT, as part of the year long Youth Ministry Training series all about healthy youth/adult relationships.Complexities & Paradoxes of Youth/Adult Relationships
"Believing in the inherent worth and dignity of every person and that every person has a right to a voice in matters that concern them," Evin says, "we adults wrestle with the ways we’ve been shaped by our culture which tells us 'the adults are in charge.' Meanwhile the youth are still learning to claim their voices and expertise. Having been under adult thumbs their whole lives, they can be sensitive to being told what to do or hearing 'no.' Yet, as adults in youth ministry there are 'no’s' we have to deliver. And many youth really do want adult mentoring and help—just in a way that feels respectful to them."
Evin continues, "Teenagers can be full of creativity, ideas, and passion. They are often quite capable of learning and adapting quickly and becoming leaders who can put their ideas and passion into motion. This leaves adults in youth ministry wondering how much help is enough and how much is too much. Sometimes “help” is perceived as nagging or being bossy. Sometimes youth don’t even know they need help, but would be devastated if their big project didn’t launch.
"Their lives often have a lot of adult themes in them. And they want genuine adult relationships where they can talk about big stuff. And yet, too much information about adult lives quickly becomes an emotional burden or leaves them feeling uneasy about trusting that adult to be an adult.
"Making it even harder, we adults have our own anxieties—about being liked or respected, about keeping youth safe, about how very much we can’t fix their lives, about their parents or the congregation’s view of the youth program, and more."
Register for the Healthy Youth/Adult Relationships webinar (10/11 at 1pm EDT and 10/12 at 8pm EDT) that explores these complexities in depth by visiting uua.org/ymwebinars.
Evin adds, "Sometimes youth-adult partnership can feel like a series of landmines. In this webinar Eric Bliss and I address these issues and talk about best practices and skills to develop that can shift partnership from a series of awkward stumbles to something more like a dance. We’ve invited youth leaders we personally work with to join us on the webinars to talk about the ways we, imperfectly, have built partnership in our shared leadership."