Prior to the National Conference on Catholic Youth Ministry, or NCCYM, in San Jose last month, I participated in a two-day "Youth Mental Health First Aid" training. (I am sure you will hear and see me reference this training a few times in the future!) One of the numerous ideas I noted was tis idea of a "Been There, Done That" box of index cards....
What you would do is to contact parents who have gone through some specific situation, issues or crisis,
and see if they would be open to talking with other parents from the parish or school who approach you to discuss that topic. (I'd also suggest you ask these kind, brave parents willing to discuss their situations to pray for any parent that does contact them... and perhaps pray WITH them!)
-- teens breaking curfew and how to deal with that in a healthy way
-- incarcerated youth
-- dealing with underage drinking
-- child diagnosed with a special need
-- kids who struggled through their divorce
-- custody issues
-- teens cutting school
(Start brain-storming as you reflect on questions parents ask you!
What a wonderful resource this box can be as you help connect people that support each other
and build community.)
Please be sure to keep this information confidential, but have them on hard for support.
Of course, you could keep this information on a spread sheet on your computer or tablet.
And, obviously, for anyone who needs professional help,
make that appropriate referral.
However, often, parents just need support --
someone to listen
someone who understands
and sometimes some ideas and advice.
This seemed like a great idea to share with you all as you approach Pastoral Care with youth and their families.
Let me know if you do this and how it works for you. Add any helpful tips in the comments below.
Here is a prayer from Loyola Press for Parents:
A Parent's Prayer Loving God,
You are the giver of all we possess,
the source of all of our blessings.
We thank and praise you.
Thank you for the gift of our children.
Help us to set boundaries for them,
and yet encourage them to explore.
Give us the strength and courage to treat
each day as a fresh start.
May our children come to know you, the one true God,
and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
May your Holy Spirit help them to grow
in faith, hope, and love,
so they may know peace, truth, and goodness.
May their ears hear your voice.
May their eyes see your presence in all things.
May their lips proclaim your word.
May their hearts be your dwelling place.
May their hands do works of charity.
May their feet walk in the way of Jesus Christ,
your Son and our Lord.
Cindee Case, MAPS
Director of the Diocese of Youngstown Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.