By Amanda Metcalf
I work with your kids. OK, maybe not YOUR kids specifically, but the collective your. Our community’s kids. And this generation is a whole different ball game. I joke that I’m becoming a woman of steel. Not much shocks or astounds me anymore.
Many moons ago, in graduate school, I came home from my internship site stressed and crying more nights than not. The hurt was overwhelming. I felt insignificant, small, and incapable of making a dent in all of it. Now, I know better. I know that one impactful relationship can make all the difference in the world. And maybe it’s because of that knowledge, that my protective steely coating crumbled a bit today and I found tears welling up as my client poured out their soul in our session. Because they felt safe enough to do. Because being there, in that moment, for that young person mattered.
Our kids are lonely, y’all. So incredibly lonely. In the most digitally connected era, our kids are more disconnected than ever.
It’s an honour to hold this space for them. It’s my privilege to sit unabashedly and face their pain alongside them. To be the *one* person some of these kids have that will be present; that completely accepts them.
But my job has always been to work myself out of a job: to empower clients, even kids, to learn coping skills and resilience and to create support systems. And I suppose I just needed somewhere to share something that probably seems common knowledge. YOU parents, you caretakers, you members of our community, are so incredibly impactful to these kids. What you do and say, what you don’t do and say, carries so much weight and meaning.
Your support is invaluable to them. Your helping potential is boundless.
The pressure many parents put on themselves to provide over-the-top birthdays, holidays, and vacations….to volunteer for everything or be present at every sporting event….the guilt felt when they snap and lose their temper or find themselves working overtime *again*….I’m not saying that those things can’t ever be meaningful or impactful….but they are but icing on a cake. They don’t necessarily make or break a relationship. The cake is: unconditional positive regard. That’s what we call it as therapists. Letting these kids know that they’re ok, they’re valued, they’re accepted as they are. And it can come from anyone. Family, friends, religious leaders, sports coaches.
My job is to work myself out of a job. My hope is that caretakers and members of the community will be empowered to take on and fully comprehend the immense responsibility and privilege it is to hold this space for these kids. This work matters…so much more than you know.
Originally published here.
Amanda if a former therapist turned freelance writer/stay-at-home mum to three little boys.