Young people who are struggling sometimes resist engaging with people or services that could help them along their way. Perhaps they are embarrassed by or ashamed of their situations. Perhaps interacting with adults in earnest dialogue makes them uneasy, or they have social anxiety challenges. Perhaps they are feeling so lost that they don’t know where they would even begin or what to say about it all. Either way, they really don’t want to talk about it.
I have spoken to parents who know their adult child needs help, but cringe because the very idea of 3rd party interventions could be so unwelcome at home. Parents say things like, “He will just get so angry.” or “She would totally freak out.” when considering bringing others to the table. So, the adult children and their parents live in a little echo-chamber of painful emotions and awkward conversations – and little new is added to the mix — as the months pass.
Other adult family members (e.g., aunts, uncles, cousins) or family friends may be able to help. People in these close proximity roles have genuine line of sight on when and how a young person is struggling. They share a foundation of familiarity and perhaps other history. They may also have other life experiences that would give them credibility with the young person. … and they are not Mom or Dad, which is a definite plus.
A trusted “known” adult is positioned to extend a hand with compassion and candor, to engage a young person in dialogue over an outing, a bite or a beverage. The opportunity exists then to blow a little fresh air into the situation, plant seeds of possibility and demonstrate that earnest conversations like these can be helpful, non-judgmental, interesting and even enjoyable. I have done this many times, in the role of uncle or family friend, and I believe that every time it was additive for the young adult in the moment.
If you know of a situation where a young adult is struggling, consider if you may be able to help. Just get them out of the house (or on the phone if at a distance), listen with compassion and offer a few perspectives. If it goes well, maybe do it more than once. It doesn’t need to turn into some big “coaching” thing. I am very confident that Mom and Dad would appreciate your efforts. And I bet the young adult would be relieved and happy to get out of the echo chamber and talk to someone for real.
Anyone who would like to connect with me or explore these topics more is invited to visit my website at www.otoolecoaching.com.