Help! My Kids Are Hurting
Help! My Kids Are Hurting: A Survival Guide to Working with Students in PainCopyright 2005 by Marv PennerYouth Specialties products, 300 South Pierce Street, El Cajon, CA 92020 are published byZondervan, 5300 Patterson Avenue Southeast, Grand Rapids, MI 49530.ISBN-10: 0-310-26708-0ISBN-13:...
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Help! My Kids Are Hurting: A Survival Guide to Working with Students in PainCopyright 2005 by Marv PennerYouth Specialties products, 300 South Pierce Street, El Cajon, CA 92020 are published byZondervan, 5300 Patterson Avenue Southeast, Grand Rapids, MI 49530.ISBN-10: 0-310-26708-0ISBN-13: 0-310-26708-9Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible:New International Version (North American Edition), copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 byInternational Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrievalsystem, or transmitted in any form or by any means-electronic, mechanical, photocopy,recording, or any other-(except for brief quotations in printed reviews) without the priorpermission of the publisher.Web site addresses listed in this book were current at the time of publication. Please contactYouth Specialties via e-mail (YS@YouthSpecialties.com) to report URLs that are no longeroperational and replacement URLs if available.Creative team: Dave Urbanski, Kristi Robison, Laura Gross, and Heather HaggertyCover design by : Holly SharpInterior design by: Mark Novelli, IMAGO MEDIAPrinted in the United States05 06 07 08 09 10 - 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1chapter one1. Kids today are hurting more deeply than they-or we-are willing to admit.Lots of hurting teenagers have learned to cautiously hidewhat''s really going on inside. They''ve fi gured out that openingup to someone-especially an adult-could set them upfor more hurt than they''re willing to risk. When a kid triesto share his story with someone and is ignored or judged orexposed or given quick advice, for a while he may not makehimself that vulnerable again.When we look at most teenagers, their lives seem so puttogether. The brand-name wardrobe, cool accessories, andapparently carefree attitudes fool us into thinking everythingis fi ne. But too often, beneath that carefully crafted exteriorbeats the frightened heart of a little girl or boy who has noone to trust. It''s easier for kids to deny what they''re feelingand pretend everything is just fi ne, rather than risk possiblerejection by opening up.Let''s think about something even more important: Manyof us who work with teenagers fi nd ourselves denying thereality of what''s going on with the kids in our care. We pretendeverything is okay even when we know the truth. Whythe denial? Probably because most of us don''t feel equippedto deal with their issues. And besides, getting tangled upin a kid''s mess would take more time and energy than wehave to give. So we simply carry on the game. As long asnobody''s talking about heavy stuff, we don''t have to dealwith heavy stuff. We try to keep our relationships with ourstudents lighthearted and superfi cial for fear that if we openthe door to deeper issues, we''ll have to deal with them.FIVE THINGS YOU CAN COUNT ONMany of us haven''t even sorted out our own stuff yet, so atall costs we avoid getting involved in someone else''s pain.Maybe this explains why some sociologists have describedtoday''s teenagers as "the abandoned generation." They don''ttell; we don''t ask-that way nobody has to worry about what''sreally going on.2. The deepest hurt most kids feel is relational.Neither the chaos of adolescent transitions nor the bizarrecircumstances in which kids often fi nd themselves are whatwounds kids the most. No, the deepest wounds happenwhen the people they count on fail to honor that extendedtrust. When a person who is supposed to provide safety andsupport walks away and leaves kids on their own, they feelmost deeply hurt. We are talking about abandonment-relational,emotional, and at times even physical abandonment.This generation has been left to care for itself. Unfortunately,the deepest betrayal of trust kids experience is often familybased. And even more upsetting, in too many cases akid loses his relationship with his dad. Kids need people intheir lives whom they can count on
A Survival Guide to Working with Students in Pain This book provides a wide range of appropriate interventions and fundamental people-helping skills, as well as critical help for youth workers to recognize their limitations and learn the principles of effective referral. This practical and informative book is essential for any untrained youth worker, and will be a vital tool for any youth pastor to share with their staff.
Marv Penner is a youth ministry expert with more than 30 years in the field, chairs the youth and family ministry department at Briercrest Graduate School in Saskatchewan, Canada. He's also director of the Canadian Centre of Adolescent Research and author of The Youth Worker's Guide to Parent Ministry, Help! My Kids Are Hurting and Hope and Healing for Kids Who Cut.
- Preface 6
- Introduction 8
- Section One: Understanding The World Of Hurting Kids 11
- Chapter 1: Five Things You Can Count On 12
- Chapter 2: Eight Unique Challenges Of Working With Kids In Pain 15
- Section Two: Becoming A Person Who Can Help Hurting Kids 21
- Chapter 3: What Do Hurting Kids Want From Us? 22
- Chapter 4: What About Boundaries? 24
- Chapter 5: What's Your Style---hugger, Teacher, Preacher, Or Surgeon? 29
- Chapter 6: Sorting Through Your Own Baggage 39
- Section Three: The Nuts And Bolts Of Helping Hurting Kids 43
- Chapter 7: It's All About L.o.v.e. 44
- Chapter 8: 'l' Is For Listen 47
- Chapter 9: 'o' Is For Offer 54
- Chapter 10: 'v' Is For Validate 62
- Chapter 11: 'e' Is For Eliminate, Empower, And Expect 69
- Chapter 12: Mistakes That Can Destroy Your Ministry With Hurting Kids 76
- Section Four: When You're Out Of Your Depth: Rules For Referral 83
- Chapter 13: Why You Should Refer A Hurting Student 85
- Chapter 14: When You Should Refer A Hurting Student 89
- Chapter 15: How You Should Refer A Hurting Student 97
- Section Five: Tackling The Tough Stuff---10 Topics You Need To Understand 99
- Chapter 16: Eating Disorders 100
- Chapter 17: Adolescent Suicide 104
- Chapter 18: Rape, Acquaintance Rape, And Sexual Assault 109
- Chapter 19: Adolescent Pregnancy 113
- Chapter 20: Substance Abuse 117
- Chapter 21: Grief And Loss 122
- Chapter 22: Self-injury 127
- Chapter 23: Family Breakdown 130
- Chapter 24: Pornography And Sexual Addictions 134
- Chapter 25: Adolescent Depression 138
- Final Thoughts 142
Help! My Kids Are Hurting: A Survival Guide to Working with Students in Pain chapter one 1. Kids today are hurting more deeply than they---or we--- are willing to admit. Lots of hurting teenagers have learned to cautiously hide what's really going on inside. They've fi gured out that opening up to someone---especially an adult---could set them up for more hurt than they're willing to risk. When a kid tries to share his story with someone and is ignored or judged or exposed or given quick advice, for a while he may not make himself that vulnerable again. When we look at most teenagers, their lives seem so put together. The brand-name wardrobe, cool accessories, and apparently carefree attitudes fool us into thinking everything is fi ne. But too often, beneath that carefully crafted exterior beats the frightened heart of a little girl or boy who has no one to trust. It's easier for kids to deny what they're feeling and pretend everything is just fi ne, rather than risk possible rejection by opening up. Let's think about something even more important: Many of us who work with teenagers fi nd ourselves denying the reality of what's going on with the kids in our care. We pretend everything is okay even when we know the truth. Why the denial? Probably because most of us don't feel equipped to deal with their issues. And besides, getting tangled up in a kid's mess would take more time and energy than we have to give. So we simply carry on the game. As long as nobody's talking about heavy stuff, we don't have to deal with heavy stuff. We try to keep our relationships with our students lighthearted and superfi cial for fear that if we open the door to deeper issues, we'll have to deal with them. FIVE THINGS YOU CAN COUNT ON Many of us haven't even sorted out our own stuff yet, so at all costs we avoid getting involved in someone else's pain. Maybe this explains why some sociologists have described today's teenagers as 'the abandoned generation.' They don't tell; we don't ask---that way nobody has to worry about what's really going on. 2. The deepest hurt most kids feel is relational. Neither the chaos of adolescent transitions nor the bizarre circumstances in which kids often fi nd themselves are what wounds kids the most. No, the deepest wounds happen when the people they count on fail to honor that extended trust. When a person who is supposed to provide safety and support walks away and leaves kids on their own, they feel most deeply hurt. We are talking about abandonment---relational, emotional, and at times even physical abandonment. This generation has been left to care for itself. Unfortunately, the deepest betrayal of trust kids experience is often family based. And even more upsetting, in too many cases a kid loses his relationship with his dad. Kids need people in their lives whom they can count on---no matter what. In the absence of trustworthy people, they're often left to do whatever they must in order to survive. That can lead to all kinds of destructive and dangerous choices. 3. Kids will decide whom they'll trust with their deepest pain. Most teenagers have little or no access to nonparental adults, particularly ones who know them well enough to help teenagers navigate the realities of their complicated adolescent world. Formal systems to deal with kids at risk have been established in many communities. Guidance counselors in schools, child protection offi cers and social workers, walk-in medical clinics, toll-free crisis lines, after-school programs, and counseling centers invite hurting kids to tell their stories. But when an adolescent really hurts, he longs for a relationship with someone who cares about him on a personal level---someone who knows his name and is available outside of offi ce hours. Kids share their lives with people who've taken the time to prove their trustworthiness. They don't care about the education, certifi cation, or experience of the people they choose to trust. They just need to know those people care. 4. The church has a long way to go. The idea of true community deeply appeals to teenagers. After all, they're in the process of disconnecting from their families and developing social identities of their own. If our churches functioned the way they were originally intended to, they could provide places of shelter and safety for hurting teenagers. The community of faith has at its disposal unique resources intended to bring hope and help to hurting people of all ages. Unfortunately, for the most part those resources remain unacknowledged and untapped. Many churches have lost their ability to provide a welcome for hurting people--- especially adolescents, who often represent an even greater challenge because of the generational misunderstanding that plagues them. The fact that you're reading this book tells me you want to provide hurting kids with a way to experience love, acceptance, and hope. When our churches become the communities they're meant to be, we'll see hurting people of all ages fi nding help. 5. The stakes are high. At the risk of setting off alarm bells, we need to face a sad and frightening reality: The number of adults that kids are willing to trust may be quite small. It takes time to build the kinds of relationships that encourage them to open up. Not many adults are willing to make this kind of investment. If a teenager has trusted you enough to tell you her story, she has given you a sacred gift. You may be the only adult in a position to help her make wise choices. I don't want to be melodramatic about this, but if we choose to ignore a student who trusts us enough to tell us her story, she may have no choice but to bury her feelings and try to cope on her own.