Why Empathy Matters

Why Empathy Matters

I often think of the faces and stories of teenagers that I get to work with every week.

Their pain is real. Their success changes lives. Their questions are relevant. Their stories change my perspective.

You may be asking yourself, “How deep can you really go with teenagers when you only see them once a week for an hour? Do they actually share? What could they be dealing with that could rival adult problems?”

You would be shocked.

I can learn more about a teen in a one-hour Support Group meeting than many people can find out over months.

How is this possible?

Empathy.

Empathy makes all the difference in the world. In these Support Groups, we are not asking questions because we want to be nosy, tell them what they are doing wrong, or even fix their lives. We ask questions because we want to step into life with them, even when it’s hard and there is no easy fix in sight.

I absolutely love this Brené Brown video. She expertly describes the difference between empathy and sympathy while revealing the power of showing true empathy in difficult circumstances.

 

 

When you watch the video, you can see that empathy is a powerful tool, especially when dealing with teenagers.

Just this year alone, I have had teenagers tell me about:

  • Broken home lives where they are forced to choose who they want to live with.
  • Families who encourage drug use while they are trying to stay clean.
  • Fathers who bring their mistress into the home while mom tries to keep the family together.
  • 30-hour work weeks to help the family pay medical bills.
  • A fear of graduation because that is when they will be kicked out of their house.
  • Extreme racism and name calling in a work environment.

Do I have the answers to these problems? Can I come up with magic words to make the hurt go away?

Absolutely not!

But I can listen. I can tell them that I am so sorry they are having to deal with such difficult life circumstances. I can sit in a chair beside them and step into their world for an hour a week. I can give them a safe, judgement-free zone to talk about their lives and problems.

I can empathize.

I encourage you to try some of the tactics mentioned in the video and to avoid phrases like “at least.” Step into a teenager’s shoes, crawl down into the pit with them, and show that someone cares and wants to listen.

For us to continue to provide these Support Groups and show empathy, we depend on donors like you.

You can donate, pray, volunteer or simply share our content with a friend!

Karlie Duke was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and now is our Communications Director. She is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories.
Heather & Jade Talk Teen Pregnancy

Heather & Jade Talk Teen Pregnancy

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Two stories of teen pregnancy converge

In this re-edited interview from 2016, Chris and Karlie are joined by Heather and Jade to talk about their stories both separately and as they intertwine.

As a young teen mom, Jade was connected with Heather, who offered her much-needed support and encouragement. Heather was able to provide hope and a new perspective through the lens of her own teen pregnancy.

Even 7 years after this interview, it remained one of our top-played episodes.

You won’t want to miss this timeless wisdom on the joys and challenges of teen parenthood.

In this episode, you’ll find out…

  • Two different stories about teen pregnancy and parenthood.
  • Ways to support and encourage teen parents.
  • What it is like to be a teen parent while trying to finish school.
  • The importance of mentors and friends in the life of a teen parent.

Ask yourself…

  • Have I sat down and asked someone else’s story lately?
  • How can I better support and encourage a teen parent?
  • Who has made a difference in my own life?

Go ask a teen…

  • Who has supported you the most?
  • What is the biggest joy of being a parent?
  • How can I help support and encourage you?
Advice for teen parents:
  • Get counseling or therapy if you need it.
  • Stay in school!
  • You can do it! There is support out there for you.
  • Your best is good enough.

For people supporting teen parents:
  • Offer to help, and keep offering even when they say no!
  • Be inclusive when you can. It is hard for teen moms to find where they fit and belong.
  • Show up!
  • Let them vent without telling them what to do.
  • Be vulnerable and let them know that you genuinely care about them.

Heather and Jade at our podcast recording to talk about teen pregnancy

Resources for teenage parents:

  • If you or someone you know is dealing with an unexpected pregnancy, Pregnancy Help 4 U can help.
  • If you are someone who works with student-aged parents, reach out to program@teenlife.ngo for more information about our Support Group Curriculum designed for teen parents!
  • Original music by Luke Cabrera and Tobin Hodges.

Have a question?

If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!

About Us

Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

Chris Robey

Chris Robey

CEO

Heather Gradke

Heather Gradke

Special Guest

Jade Rains

Jade Rains

Special Guest

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Teen Pregnancy with Charlotte Smiley
Dating Relationships & Streaming Services
Episode 26: Dating & Suicide Terms

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School Lunch Delivery + TikTok Shop + 2023 Fall Preview | Ep. 130

School Lunch Delivery + TikTok Shop + 2023 Fall Preview | Ep. 130

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Should students be allowed to have school lunches delivered?

Most parents went to school when the options were to pack your lunch or buy it from the school cafeteria. It’s safe to say that times have changed. Today, many schools are managing a different kind of lunch crowd where students order through a food delivery app like Uber Eats or Door Dash and have lunch delivered. Keep scrolling for the pros and cons and why schools are divided on what to allow.

We’ve also got the latest in viral TikTok recipes, e-commerce revolutions and exciting fall previews, so let’s go!

A TikTok Recipe to Try

As of October 2023, meatball sub videos on TikTok have over 42.3 million views. They can be as easy as a loaf of French bread, frozen meatballs, a jar of marinara sauce and shredded mozzarella. Or you can be like @theTessaSmith and make your own meatballs, bread and sauce from scratch.

Have you tried it, yet?

Meatball Subs: the (still pretty easy) Gourmet Version

Recipe for Marinara

28oz can diced or whole peeled tomatoes
1/2 yellow onion, diced 2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
2-4 anchovy filets (optional but YUM)
About 1/4 cut fresh basil (or 2 tbsp dried)
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add in onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add in anchovies. Stir. Then add tomatoes and basil. Gently simmer over medium-low for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally (while you cook the meatballs). Then use an immersion blender to blend. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe for Meatballs

1 lb ground beef
2 eggs
1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp grated onion
1 garlic clove, grated
1/2 cup grated parmigiana
1/2 cup breadcrumbs

Heavily season with salt and pepper. Mix everything in a large bowl. (You can use your clean hands.) Divide into even balls that are about 2 tbsp each. Bake at 425F for about 12 minutes, or until the bottoms are browning and internal temp is 160F.

Add meatballs to sauce.

Assemble the Meatball Subs

2 18in baguettes
2 8oz balls mozzarella, sliced in 1/2 in rounds
Olive oil for toasting
Extra parsley for garnish

Slice the baguette in half, remove some bread from the bottom half to hollow it out. Drizzle with olive oil. Broil cut side up for a couple minutes to toast. Remove from the oven and fill up the bottoms with meatballs, top with extra sauce, a layer of mozzarella, and then pop it back in the oven on broil to melt/bubble the cheese. Remove from the oven, top with some extra parsley, the baguette top, and slice it however you prefer.

Meatball Subs: the Quick Fix

1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce
1 bag of frozen meatballs
baguette, Texas Toast or garlic bread
mozzarella
olive oil
fresh parsley, optional

Heat meatballs and sauce according to the package instructions. Mix together over low/medium heat. Slice the baguette in half. Bake according to instructions. Remove some bread from the bottom half to hollow it out. Drizzle with olive oil. Broil cut side up for a couple minutes to toast. Remove from the oven and fill up the bottoms with meatballs, top with extra sauce, a layer of mozzarella, and then pop it back in the oven on broil to melt/bubble the cheese. Remove from the oven, top with some extra parsley, the baguette top, and slice it however you prefer.

Pro tip: Get your teens involved in the kitchen!

Look up different videos and decide together which one to try or just follow the instructions above.

Let us know how it goes!

Should students be allowed to have their school lunch delivered?

Meatball subs are great for dinner, but what about lunch?

Recently schools have faced an influx of school lunch deliveries, and it’s causing quite a stir. Maybe you’ve already heard about it from your student or your student’s school.

Why is it such a problem though? Here’s a quick list of some of the issues:

  • Safety Risk: It can pose a security concern for the school, with unknown delivery personnel entering the premises.
  • Congestion in the Front Office: The influx of delivery drivers can cause chaos at the school’s front office. Some schools have tried to solve this by designating a table outside the school for deliveries, but that can result in confusion and even lunch theft.
  • Timeliness: Door Dash may not always deliver on time, causing students to miss out on their lunch.
  • Health Concerns: Door Dash meals may not always be as healthy as what the school cafeteria provides.
  • Allergies: Allergic reactions to unregulated outside food can be a significant concern.
  • Expense: The cost of Door Dash can add up quickly, especially for students.

How can we set teens up for success at lunch?

To make lunchtime enjoyable and stress-free, consider the following tips:

  • Find ideas on TikTok or Google. Discover innovative and exciting lunch ideas to keep things fresh.
  • Avoid microwave-dependent meals. Opt for meals that don’t require microwaving, ensuring a hassle-free experience.
  • Mix it up. Keep variety in mind to prevent lunchtime monotony.
  • Involve teens in planning and making lunch. Encourage teens to participate in preparing their meals for a sense of ownership and creativity.

What you should know about TikTok Shop

TikTok is not just for fun and entertainment; it’s also a burgeoning e-commerce platform. Launched on September 12, 2023, TikTok Shop is making waves in the digital shopping world.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • E-commerce Boom: E-commerce was a $100 billion industry last year, with Indonesia contributing a significant $52 billion.
  • Sales Aspirations: TikTok Shop aims for $10 million in daily sales but is currently at $4 million in the US.
  • Influencer Partnerships: TikTok Shop collaborates with influencers to promote its products and services.
  • What It Offers: In-Feed Video & LIVE Shopping, an affiliate program that lets people earn commissions on sales, and Shop Ads.

What to talk with teens about TikTok Shop

With this new shopping experience, it’s essential to educate teenagers about responsible online shopping:

  • Beware of Scams: Advise them to be cautious and recognize potential scams.
  • Budgeting: Encourage them to ask themselves if they really need the item and whether they have the money for it.
  • Trustworthy Sources: If in doubt, suggest finding the same item on a reputable site or avoiding untrustworthy sources.
  • Secure Payments: Recommend using secure methods like Apple Pay or Visa Gift Cards to protect their financial information.

2023 Fall Entertainment Preview

As we head into the fall season, teenagers have plenty to look forward to in terms of entertainment.

Here’s a quick peek at what’s on the horizon:

Let us know in the comments or on social media which one of these tips, tricks or conversations you find the most useful!

And don’t forget to like the podcast and leave a review in your favorite podcast app.

In this episode, we mentioned or used the following resources about school lunch delivery and TikTok gadget shopping.

Have a question?

If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!

About Us

Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

Tobin Hodges

Tobin Hodges

Program Director

Caleb Hatchett

Caleb Hatchett

Podcast Host

Follow Us

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Ep. 119: Diverse Families- Multi-cultural/Multiracial Families

Ep. 119: Diverse Families- Multi-cultural/Multiracial Families

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How can we support multiracial and multi-cultural families?

Chris Robey interviews Tquan and Leahanna Moore about their experience as a multiracial/multi-cultural family.

They discuss what it means to be multi-cultural and how they’ve approached blending cultures in their own home. You’ll also hear about their kids’ experience being mixed race.

Listen for talking points on:

  • the importance of acknowledging the cultures within a family and how to ensure a healthy family identity
  • how to approach peer acceptance with kids
  • discrimination
  • assumptions
  • how to best support kids from multiracial or multi-cultural backgrounds

In this episode, we mentioned or used the following resources:

Have a question?

If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!

About Us

Chris Robey

Chris Robey

CEO

Tquan and Leanne Moore

Tquan and Leanne Moore

Special Guests

Follow Us

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What is it like to be a foster family?
Creating a family bucket list
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Ep. 97: Water Safety & Spring Break Ideas

Ep. 97: Water Safety & Spring Break Ideas

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Summary:
In 2022, the CDC reported drowning was the 2nd leading cause of unintentional injury death in kids and adolescents ages 5-19. But most of us probably aren’t talking with our teens about water safety. Chris and Karlie take a look at how we can keep our kids safer on the water.

They also offer easy ideas for making the most of spring break, without breaking the bank.

Plus, what parenting style are you? Don’t miss this big picture overview of 12 parenting styles and the tv show that will put them to the test.

In this episode, we mentioned or used the following resources:

Have a question? If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!
About Us:
Chris Robey

Chris Robey

CEO

Chris has worked with teens from a variety of backgrounds for over a decade. He has a desire to help teenagers make good choices while also giving their families tools to communicate more effectively as choices are made.

Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

Karlie was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and has always had a heart for teenagers and the vulnerable life stage they are in. She has a wealth of experience to share from working with teens in ministry and leading support groups.

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