The figure below describes the changes in our relationships that we encounter as we grow from being a child, to an adolescent and finally to an adult. This process is biologically mandated, ie, it is a natural and necessary part of everyone’s life.
The circles represent the growth and separation of a young person from their parents and caregivers and the descriptions on the right are some of the characteristics that can occur in the relationship at each stage. The essence of the process is that as we grow, we seek to gain more say over our lives (locus of control), which can create conflict with those who have supported us previously.
The sole purpose of any development experience with young people should be to give voice to their ‘life story’. Many of the young people we encounter are living a story full of problems, labels, issues, deficits and negativity. Wisdom is inherent in all of us and we need experiences and relationships that give us the ability to experience this wisdom and discover what we already have, thus creating the beginnings of a new story.
Perhaps often we don’t allow young people to have wisdom and presume that they have to get it from someone else or from somewhere else.
There is a vast difference between coming from the premise that young people are empty vessels that need filling up with our wisdom and knowledge rather than the premise of wise and knowledgeable young people who need environments and relationships that allow them to discover what they inherently have and to contribute their wisdom to the world.