How to Become a Trusted Adult

 In Resources

As we approach the end of the school year and faith formation programs (and a remarkable year at that!), it is helpful to pause and reflect on the importance of your role and presence in the lives of children. It has no doubt been a difficult year in many ways, and one that might leave you feeling like you didn’t do enough, didn’t teach enough, didn’t connect with families enough, didn’t celebrate enough. But this year, perhaps more than any other, the most important marker of success in your ministry and work isn’t programs attended or communications sent.

The most important aspect of your work is becoming a trusted adult in the lives of children. Young people today are experiencing epidemic levels of loneliness—many report a sense of isolation, the feeling that no one really knows them, or the experience of always waiting for someone to call, text, or reach out.

These reports of loneliness were happening before COVID-19, which brought with it the requirement to social distance, shelter in place, or move to online work and learning, no doubt exacerbating an already difficult time for many young people.

This is staggering. As a teacher or catechist of younger children, this may register as important but irrelevant to your ministry. And yet it underscores the importance of your role in the lives of the children entrusted to your care. Relationships are not only important—they are essential. While children need to learn appropriate information and progress in their education, what they need most from you is a recognition that you care. The most important aspect of your ministry is to build relationships so that you become a trusted adult in the lives of children. In becoming a trusted adult, you are then able to be a model of faith and the voice of Jesus for young children.

How can you make sure young people know they can turn to you? How do you make yourself a trusted adult in their lives today?

We know that relationships make all the difference when it comes to combating loneliness and adding a sense of meaning and purpose to a young person’s life.

Simple practices can help build relationships. These practices are rooted in data: they are the things we’ve learned young people respond to and respect when it comes to forging new relationships. One important practice of relationship building is simply listening.

As a catechist or teacher of young children, the relationships you establish now are foundational for the development and support of the religious lives and human needs of the children in your care. In these days of COVID-19, take a moment to step back and assess your year in light of relationships and the ways you have become a trusted adult in the lives of children. While knowledge of the faith is important, know that it is also the relationships you have built that will have a long-term positive effect. 

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