What Kids Need: Community Recognition

When my dad was older, he told me about a time when he went to the mall and sat on a bench to rest.  As people walked by this busy part of the mall, he noticed that no one, not one person looked at him.  The image stuck with me, and I vowed as I lived my life that I would value our senior population.  Kids also notice that many adults do not see them or pay any attention to them.  Kids need a community that shows that it values youth, that they matter.  You might be surprised when you take the time to talk with a young person how enjoyable it can be.  If we are in such a hurry that we don’t notice kids or take time to say Hi, or maybe ask them what they are doing, then they feel unimportant, unnoticed like my dad felt on the bench at the mall.

A community provides resilience to youth when it takes time to show that kids are valued, that they matter, that they are essential.  If an entire community banded together and decided to speak to kids by name, or at least talk with them, kids would be amazed because it seldom happens for them.  This recognition lets them know that they are welcome; they are essential to the well-being of the community and that their energy is needed.  We can give them a compliment, or ask them for directions to something that maybe we already know, or comment on what they are doing.  It is enjoyable and frequently ends up in a spirited conversation.

Recently I commented on a refreshing drink that this group of kids had just purchased for themselves at a concession stand.  It had so many colors in it that it caught my eye.  I commented on it and found the kids to be friendly and conversational.  Before I knew it, the young lady offered me to try the drink, some soda drink.  I declined because of sanitary reasons but found it enjoyable that they were so willing to share.  I challenge you this next week to add value to kids by talking with them or making a positive comment about something with which they are involved.  You will find that it makes a bit difference in your day.

Yours for Better Parenting,

Rich