Monday, July 1, 2013

Young People are like Kites Buffetted by the Winds

In the diocesan bulletin, the head of  one of the city youth centers discusses the differences among the young persons who come to the center for help. There are of course the young persons we would call ordinary, and  persons who have been raised in poverty, the single parent youngsters, persons who have been abused, and persons who have been hurt in other ways. They are all individuals with special personalities, and he feels that as a person responsible for the center, he needs to respect the individuality of each of them.

Using the metaphor of flying kites, he looks on some of these young people as kites flying at low altitude, with little of the string released. Adults, however, who have an abundance of string can fly high in the sky. They are flying high above the winds that the young people  have to contend with at their lower altitude. They are at the whim of the wind going high and falling low, always causing concern. Since the string they have doesn't allow them to go higher, they lose hope and their kites do at times nosedive to the earth. During this period, their emotions go to extremes. Environmental influences, which he refers to as the wind, can easily affect them. Like the quiet before the storm, they never know what to expect, he says, and as a result they often feel agitated. Since they feel confined (the string), they have difficulty with their own identity, and with those who are trying to hold on to them. One solution for some of them during this time of struggle and mental confusion is to break the string, to run away from  home.

Many at the center, not surprisingly, have low self-esteem. One young man is not able to associate with his classmates and doesn't speak during the whole day. Another, when on the receiving end of a joke, cries, and  one stays by himself all day long. After a year at the center, however, there are many who do change, he says. They approach you and greet you, and are willing to talk about what bothers them, whether with friends or with teachers. This is a sign that the interest that is shown them at the center does have good results.

Returning to  the kite example, the adults want the young to fly higher and even though the wind is not blowing they give them more string; when the young do not want to go in that direction, the adults want to control the direction of flight. Our interest should be on the kite, the young person, and then, trusting them, give them enough string to fly where they want to go.

We say the youth are the leaders of the future but these leaders, he strongly points out, have to be given a future now.  When they see the value of the present, the future will be all the brighter. We should trust and encourage them, accommodating ourselves to the direction they want to go. That, says our writer, would be enough.

The dilemmas faced by parents are extraordinarily difficult, characterizing the frustrations they usually encounter by the oft-used statement: "You are damned if you do and damned if you don't."  It is important for all to realize that children are raised, as we hear often, not only by parents but by all of society. The health of society will determine how successful the nurturing will be, and is reason enough, he says,  for all of us to be concerned with what is happening in the world around us. 

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