Dr. Rich Patterson

Adding Value to Youth

I’ve been writing about depression in kids and would like to finish this series with an approach to how can we really pull kids out of their depression.  I have found over the years when I feel overwhelmed, over burdened and just in general unmotivated, that when I reach out to others I begin to feel much better.  Today I am encouraging you to help kids reach out and help others.  I was in a restaurant recently up in the mountains and our young waitress introduced herself and told my wife and I a bit about how she was from a small town.  That she had lived in a very rural setting really, not even a small town, come to find out.  She told about the things that she liked to do like hunting, riding horses, fishing, hiking, ATVing and the like.  I told her to hold on to that, that these things would serve her well for a very long time to come in her life.  She expressed through her facial expressions that she wasn’t sure if she could find a way to continue those interests.

In a matter of a few minutes I described what I thought might be her ideal mate.  She said, “Ha” in a forceful manner.  I told her to believe that she would find someone just like she wanted, and that by the way, why couldn’t he also be wealthy?  Again she laughed a bit, and I said, believe it.  She said, “OK.”  Like she was really ready to take a hold of this.  We talked a bit more about holding on to our dreams and making them come true and then she went about her work as a waitress.

When we finished our meal and get ready to leave, she said to me, “Thank-you for talking with me.”  Wow, I was so surprised, it seemed barely more than a casual conversation, yet it had resonated with her so much that she felt encouraged and helped.  It is those little moments when we take just a bit of time to ask our youth a question, to help tweak their thoughts, give them an encouraging word, that really makes a difference.  When our young waitress said, “Ha” to me, it was as if she didn’t believe that any of her dreams were possible, yet in just a few moments she felt re-directed, convinced that she could do just that.

We must be so careful what we say to others, to be encouraging to them, because they are already struggling much like the rest of us.  Except our youth are already pretty fragile.  They have many more bombardments in their life.  Social media, television, the state of affairs in our world whether it be politics, environment, cost of living, cost of college, housing you name it.  The list is long and by helping them to believe in what they already want to believe in, we encourage them to move forward with a bit more confidence.

Take a moment to help one of our kids even if just for a few moments.