As adults we are always trying to make sure that children and adolescence are meeting expectations whether developmental milestones, formation of a strong faith, skill development, and more. No matter what field you are in there is a trend that is in need of recognition. This trend is that only a few people know how to relate to the younger generations in an empathetic, positive, and genuine relationship. Such relationships help them cultivate exactly what we are hoping for them to achieve: competence, relatedness, autonomy, and happiness.
It does not matter how old you are or what knowledge you have. You can still relate to others by being yourself and respecting them as equals. In my work with youth I have noticed a devastating trend in which parents, youth workers, and other adults in their lives do not know how to effectively build rapport in such a way that the youth feel that they are being heard, respected, and in some cases transformed by their experiences.
In order to help youth gain their voice and help them through their transitions into adulthood I have volunteered and worked for a summer camp, youth retreats, led workshops, and started to learn what the research says about helping youth with their mental health needs. In gaining an understanding of self determination theory and the needs of youth I have found it is important to facilitate: relatedness, competence, and autonomy.
As I continue to work on this front through putting together workshops for youth leaders, camp workers, and more as well as retreats I hope that by empowering leaders with these relational and informational tools that we can create a community in which all individuals regardless of age (amongst other factors) can be interacted with on an equal plain. When perceptions of younger generations lead to stereotypes and bias that create blinders we create a larger generational gap that does not allow for as many lessons and conversations to be had between generations. Losing these interactions is losing some the interpersonal interactions that make us humans.