It has been a few months since I started teaching, mentoring and working with children and adolescents. The journey has been challenging as well as rewarding, with every interaction leaving me with a fresh perspective.
For the last two days however, I have been intently thinking about how more children and teens can be reached out to. The reason that I feel this compulsion? Well, it’s not just the mere knowledge that the children and teens of today will be the adults of tomorrow (duh!). No, my reasons are based on my observations.
I have seen 15-18 years olds suffering through death, bullying, peer pressure and so on, without any support. In saying that there was no support, I do not intend to imply that their parents don’t support them or that they are to be blamed in any way. What happens, however, is that parents, after spending a certain amount of energy daily to keep things running smoothly, tend to look at things in a certain manner. This results in some parents failing to approach their children to ensure absolute support. It doesn’t necessarily speak of incompetency but more of the human tendency to err.
A few observations which compelled me to think and study this include an adorable eight-year-old becoming conscious of his eating habits because he had been told by his friends that he was ‘fat’; a seemingly stubborn and confident 17-year-old arguing with her mother about shopping prices, saying that if her mother didn’t agree, she always had her father to ask for money, and then, finding something to read to help with her self-confidence; the mother of a 13-year-old who had started fearing her daughter’s reactions ever since a death had occurred in the family and she didn’t think she was capable of reaching out to her daughter; a group of 17 to 18-year-olds with nice clothes and enough pocket money to buy whatever they could get their hands on (sangrias mostly), recording a video message for their friend in a public space and dropping an empty plastic glass and not bothering to pick it up; an eight-year-old bumping into snack packets in the aisle of a grocery store, resulting in the packets falling and the kid proceeding towards the next aisle, without caring for the dropped packets; a set of four 20-something boys on two bikes feeling the need to honk on a road full of traffic and then continuing to do that even when they had no vehicle blocking their path; and lastly, the sight of 15 to 16-year-olds with expressions of glorious victory after walking out from a liquor shop with cans of Budweiser.
Each one of these observations had an impact on my mind because none of these were people I had any direct interaction with, nor will I have to interact with them anytime soon. But, the prospect of their lives going on this way, with no mentoring or support, left me despairing over the future.
That’s when I came across a short film called “Rites of Passage” that not only gave me possible solutions but left me with a lot of hope. Because finally, my questions were not left hanging. It nudged me towards finding my own way around these problems. Hence, I am writing this post as a part of the action that I can take in this direction. If you are someone who deals with people in the age groups that I mentioned, or if you maybe know one in your life, this will be of great help for you.
I will not get into details of what the film is about but one of its core points is how the need to nurture the world’s future is a responsibility of adults. Here are a few takeaways from the film:
The film’s site offers a toolkit that can be used as well. Go ahead and do it and share it with me too!