Young people live in an adult world. Youth engagement with adults happens all the time because youth and adults constantly interact, react and have transactions with each other. Reliant on adults for basic needs, advanced needs, and most wants in-between, for a long time children and youth were forced to accept whatever adults gave them. However, more than ever before, adults are recognizing that young people today should be allowed to choose how they interact with adults.
Ways Youth Engagement with Adults Happens
Youth Facing Adultism — In schools, communities and homes throughout the world, adults act arbitrarily and with contempt for children and youth. Social customs, government laws and official systems have been developed in most nations to ensure young people act how, when, where and why adults want them to. Youth fighting adultism challenge the assumptions behind adultism, which is bias towards adults.
Youth/Adult Partnerships — When young people and adults form intentional relationships based on trust, transparency, mutual investment and meaningful involvement, they can form youth/adult partnerships. Youth/adult partnerships position both adults and youth as equitable partners who contribute to the growth of each other in practical, positive and purposeful ways. They can happen anywhere in our society.
Youth as Mentors — When adults decide they are mature enough to learn from young people, they can seek youth as mentors. In this capacity, adults can gain new knowledge, challenge old assumptions and develop their skills as teachers, police officers, social workers and other types of positive professional relationships with young people. Adults can also gain powerful new abilities in their personal relationships with children and youth, as parents, older relatives and friends.
Needs for Youth Engagement with Adults
Training — Young people and adults can develop their healthy abilities to work with each other through skill-building and knowledge sharing activities that are designed to empower and engage each group. Communication, conflict resolution, intergenerational relationships, and other skill-building can benefit adults and youth in a variety of ways.
Education — Learning what matters to each other is an important step in youth and adult relationships. Through youth-led workshops and listening activities with adults, both young people and adults can develop their compassion, connections and understanding of each other.
Inspiration — Discovering stories and finding motivation to learn from each other can compel youth and adults to work with each in dynamic new ways.
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Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how The Freechild Project can support youth engagement with adults in your community or organization, contact us.