Education and Race with Dr. Jackson

Education and Race with Dr. Jackson

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How to talk about race and education with teenagers and adults

Chris and Karlie talk with intervention counselor Dr. Tishara Jackson about race, and especially how it impacts the education system and our teenagers. Listen for her advice on how to start race conversations, the appropriate language and terminology to use, and how we can educate ourselves.

This podcast episode is full of resources, tips, and a different perspective that is needed. Our schools are not always equal, and no matter the race, teenagers are aware of the racial discussions that are taking place in our country right now. Let’s take a minute to listen and learn how we can have these conversations well to empower the teenagers in our lives!

 

Some of our kids are coming [to school] with more burdens than others.
Dr. Tishara Jackson

Intervention Specialist

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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

Dr. Tishara Jackson

Dr. Tishara Jackson

Special Guest

Chris Robey

Chris Robey

CEO

Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

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Helping in Helpful Ways

Helping in Helpful Ways

When tragedy strikes, everyone wants to help. This is admirable and well-intended. But what happens when our help is not helpful? What if helping gives us more peace of mind than it gives the victims relief?

With Hurricane Harvey wrecking the coast of Texas, this idea has hit a little closer to home. It got me thinking about how we can really help in this situation or any other disaster that arises. I believe that everyone truly wants to help. They have the best intensions to make a difference and improve others’ circumstances. Maybe we just don’t know where to start!

Hopefully these three principles will help you help others better:

 

Do your research!

To be helpful, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. So many great organizations and groups of people are already working to do good. When a tragedy happens, first look at who is already helping. Maybe you can donate clothes to people who are already collecting items. Or perhaps you can donate to an organization that is equipped to help people in need. Instead of people doing their own thing in small quantities, you can collaborate with others to make the effort more effective.

How can you research? Start with Google! Go to social media. Ask your local school, church or city. Talk to friends and see what those around you are involved in.

I couldn’t even count the number of opportunities to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey that I have seen the past few days. There are tons of great options to help with the destruction of Hurricane Harvey, but here are a few to get your research started:

  • American Red Cross: you can give by phone, text, online or mail to help people affected by Hurricane Harvey.
  • Salvation Army: you can also donate by any of the ways listed above to help with long-term relief efforts.
  • LiveBeyond: give online to help this nonprofit provide disaster relief.
  • Oliver & Otis: buy their Texas Strong t-shirt & 100% of the proceeds with go to LiveBeyond disaster relief.
  • North Texas Food Bank: donate online to provide food and water to those affected by the hurricane.

 

Help in realistic ways!

Everyone has a different capacity to help and different gifts to use. Help in a way that is realistic and applicable to you! The links above involve financial assistance. This is a great option, but there are other ways that you can help. What is so important here is that you only commit to what you can handle. If you choose to volunteer, finish the time you committed to help. If you want to start a food drive, make sure you have the capacity to collect and distribute the supplies. If you pledge money to an organization, give within your means. It does not help anyone if you start something and don’t follow through.

Here are some ways you can donate your time, home and supplies to help Hurricane Harvey victims:

  • Voly.org: register to volunteer and get notifications when needs in your area arise.
  • Airbnb: offer your home to those in need of emergency accommodations.
  • TangoTab: this app gives a meal to a person in need every time you eat out!

 

Offer help that is needed!

Finally, you want to make sure that whenever you offer help, you are offering something that is needed. I love this article which talks about disaster relief creates its own disaster. It lists several examples of help with was well-intended but necessary from sending winter coats to Honduras in the Summer to tens of thousands of teddy bears sent to the children of Sandy Hook.

Check with organizations to see what is actually useful. Give to locations that provide lists of items or a registry of sorts. Don’t assume that your junk is needed just because they have lost everything.

I would encourage you to put yourself in the shoes of the person affected by disaster. What would you want? What would you need? What would you find overwhelming?

In times of trial, we want to help. We want to give, donate, and send everything we can. The problem is that we should first check our motivation. Are you giving to truly help those affected or are you giving to feel like you made a difference? Sometimes the best thing to do is to donate money to an organization that can provide supplies that are needed. Or maybe people need thinks like water or diapers. It doesn’t have to be fancy or Instagram worthy to make a difference!

What do you think about this? What other ways do you know of to help those in need, especially as it relates to Hurricane Harvey? 

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.
What To Do After “13 Reasons Why”

What To Do After “13 Reasons Why”

*This is the third in a series of three blog posts this week regarding the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why.” Check out the first two posts if you missed them!

Part 1 – The Good of “13 Reasons Why”

Part 2 – The Ugly of “13 Reasons Why”

Past 3 – What To Do After “13 Reasons Why”

 


 

Here’s the truth. 13 Reasons Why is a Netflix original show. It is entertainment. People have ranted and raved about whether it should or should not be out there. Well, all that attention means a second season is coming. This is a testament that any press is good press. It brought a lot of attention but to what end? I hope it promoted meaningful conversation between teens and adults, and I trust that this week we have encouraged more good discussion. That is why we wanted to end our blog series with this particular post.

One thing I felt was missing from the whole show was examples of people seeking out help and succeeding. Why is that? Is it that it would have taken away from the entertainment value? I don’t believe so. I think they missed a major opportunity to model for teenagers how to seek out helpful resources. The direction to a website in the opening of each episode was nice, but all that is there are crisis hotlines and links to click further and try to figure out how to get help. What would have been more effective, I believe, is showing in every episode some examples of someone successfully seeking and receiving help.

With that as the background for this post, the goal here is to give you, the reader, ideas and some direct resources to help a teen in the real world who is struggling. This should not be seen as a replacement for continued training or adhering to any law directing you how to respond. But rather, this post could be a reference tool to get you to the resources needed to be ready and have on hand if the time arises. Though, truth be told, all of us hope we never have to use these resources.

First, just the fact that there is a show about suicide is enough to bring up the discussion about such a serious topic. You don’t have to watch the show for that conversation to start. You could watch any number of shows if you need a starting place, but none of those are going to have the answers. Only an open and honest conversation about what your student is facing and needs will meet the desire for discussion that is there. So take the opportunity. Ask questions and invite conversation, then listen.

Second, look locally at what is available. In the Fort Worth area, there is a Suicide Awareness Coalition. Attending these monthly meetings has kept the conversation in front of me and our team and helped us not lose sight of the seriousness of the situation. In addition, there are often classes, seminars, or workshops you are able to attend. These are usually geared toward licensed professionals but can be attended by anyone. I have gained a lot of helpful connections and tools this way.

Third, personally check in on the resources. Call the national hotline yourself. Time how long the wait is. Make note of the prompts and be prepared to communicate those to someone you might need to share that resource with. Visit local organizations that offer services. Ask specific questions related to the things teens you work with have brought up. It is very helpful for you to simply be able to say, “I visited this place and the people there really want to help.” This is so helpful because many times people in a severely depressed state don’t believe anyone wants to help them, and they need a lot of reassurance from someone they trust. You want to be confident in the resources you are suggesting if you ever need to be that person.

Fourth, once you are equipped with information and resources, you will feel prepared if a situation happens. This happened for me just a few months ago. I had a friend call, and he was actively suicidal. I found this out by asking pointed questions like, “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” and “Do you have a plan?” When the answer to these questions were both, “Yes!” We called the local crisis line together. I was so glad I had the number in my phone. They gave us some options of places to go, he picked one, and I took him there. I stayed for about 4 hours. Yes it took time, but I was so glad I stayed until he got medical attention and checked into a program to get help. I am convinced he would have killed himself if I had not been there.

Fifth, the last scenario you want to be prepared for is what to do if a teen you know does kill themselves or if a friend of theirs does. This is where the above resources come in. They will help you be prepared to reach out or be able to listen and ask helpful questions. Again, here locally there is a resource called LOSS Team. This is a volunteer led group that is available to survivors of suicide. They are specifically trained and equipped to help handle a loss. If you don’t have one in your community, reach out to local counseling services for groups or to a local church that may offer a resource. As with all grief, everyone handles a loss to suicide differently. It is important to know that grieving a suicide is different than other grief though. Knowing this is the important piece. Finding a resource specific to people who have lost someone to suicide is the ideal situation.

To be clear, what you are doing here is not equipping yourself to be the professional, long-term solution to help someone that is thinking about suicide. You are educating yourself to be a first line of defense, working in a preventative way to significantly reduce the number of students who end up in a place where they feel so hopeless they don’t know where to turn when they have suicidal thoughts. That’s right I said “when.” The truth is many of us, including myself, have thoughts of suicide at one time or another. The problem comes when we believe the lie that we are the only one, and that means we have no hope of recovery. Instead, we need someone like you to come alongside us and walk with us through that dark place until we get back to where we can find the reason for living again.

What is missing? What other resources are you aware of that can make a huge difference in helping teenagers as they navigate stress, anxiety and depression? Their struggle, or yours, does not ever neeed to end in suicide. Let’s pull together and raise awareness to end suicide all together. 
The Outsider/Insider Parent

The Outsider/Insider Parent

This is one of those blog entries which could be filed under: “Chris, you don’t know what this is like.” While I have kids, they are all little, and we are dealing with very different issues than parents of teenagers. And when you are in the thick of battle, often times perspective isn’t an available tool to explain certain behaviors of your child.

 

Outsider/Insider

My wife works in pediatrics at a children’s hospital. She really gets kids. So when my kids meltdown or do something that is “kid appropriate” but doesn’t mesh with my adult sensibilities, she is calm while I lose my mind. Being around little kids all day long has taught her what to expect developmentally, socially, and behaviorally. To boil it down, she is just a much, much better parent than I am to little kids 🙂

She kind of has an outsider/insider perspective of children. Being around kids all day long gives her enough perspective for when she comes home to the chaos of a house with three kids ages six and under. It doesn’t make the job any less difficult, but her perspective acts as a separating tool, giving enough space to know what is normal kid behavior and what crosses the line.

 

The denial problem 

I’ve worked with teenagers a long time and to be honest, working with their parents is much more difficult. I always love the parents I get to work with, but I’m also a little shocked (and I don’t use that term a lot) on how little perspective parents of teenagers can have. Or at least, there tends to be a lack of mindfulness when it comes to how parents are feeling about the whole teenager thing.

From my perspective as an outsider/insider, I see some parents of teenagers take this path:

Parents are not ready for their kids to enter adolescence.

So they…

Go into denial about their kid going through the adolescent journey.

Then they…

Spend too much time agonizing over/fighting with their kids through adolescence.

This can be really sad to watch. When the kid starts pushing their parent away as they enter adolescence and the parent takes it personally, conflict abounds and the divide widens. Battle lines are drawn and understanding gives way to hurt feelings and resentment.

What parents of pre-teens and young adolescents could benefit from is perspective and a general understanding of what their kid is going through. The most successful parents I have seen with their teenagers are the ones who can deal with the difficulties of adolescence with the perspective of an outsider.

 

The “outsider/insider” parent

Sometimes we a just too close to the situation. To gain perspective, we need to get “outside” of things to see what is really going on. When we get “outside” of things we see:

  1. Adolesence is a journey towards adulthood. This often begins with a teenager making space to figure things out. It isn’t personal, it’s developmental.
  2. With this space, teenagers will try on “new skins”. Things won’t connect or be consistent. Your kid isn’t going crazy. They are figuring things out.
  3. With these “new skins”, they will inevitably fail. Let them, and help them process what the failures mean.
  4. Just because they are pushing you away doesn’t mean that is what they actually want. Find new and creative ways to remain close and available.
  5. Your role as a parent needs to change. The time for correction is over. Now you get to be a coach.

 

How to get “outside”

Well, reading this blog is a good start. No, really – continue to find good, reliable resources on parenting and adolescence. Also, be on the lookout for parents who do this teenage parenting thing well. Ask them questions. Watch what they do and let them be a mentor.

Finally, ask your teenager what they need. To be honest, they probably won’t have a good answer, but it will help them understand that you are with them and trying to understand.

Being a parent is hard at all stages. When we can find ways to separate ourselves from the fog of parenting, we find there are new and creative ways to interact with our kids. We better understand what they are going through. Empathy and understanding take the place of resentment and exasperation.

We find that this phase of parenting might not be so bad after all.

Chris Robey, Teen Life’s Program Director, has worked with teens for over a decade and strives to help students see the best in themselves.
Teen Lifeline Summer Reading List

Teen Lifeline Summer Reading List

Summer is the perfect time to slow down and read a good book. Maybe you want to learn about something new, gain a new perspective or just need to laugh. As we get closer to the new school year, we hope that you’ll take advantage of the time you have left and stretch your mind! Below are a few of our book recommendations if you need a starting point.

For teenagers:

For Young Men Only by Jeff Feldhahn or For Young Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn

I actually read this book (the one for girls, obviously) when I was in High School. It is a light read but packed full of awesome and interesting information. Both of these books are written specifically for teenagers! Backed up with research and stories, this is a great resource for teens, especially as they begin to enter the dating world. They tackle questions like Why are boys so weird? Why can girls be so crazy sometimes? Why do boys want your respect more than your love? Why are good girls attracted to bad boys?

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling

Disclaimer, this book releases on July 31, 2016 so I haven’t read this yet. However, it is a follow-up on the Harry Potter series, so it has to be good, right?! This “Script Book” follows Harry and his youngest son, Albus, as they try to overcome the past and the pressure of family legacy.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey

What if there was a roadmap for how to not only survive adolescence but to thrive? This book by Sean Covey offers tools and tricks specifically for teenagers. He covers topics like responsibility, prioritizing, peer pressure and how to handle parental relationships. It is crucial for teenagers to develop healthy habits now – don’t wait and check out this book!

 

For parents:

The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers: The Secret to Loving Teens Effectively by Gary Chapman

Do you feel like you just aren’t communicating well with your teenager? This adaptation of Dr. Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages, gives you the tools and resources to show love to your teenager in a way that best communicates to them! This book describes development, explains the teenage world and covers the 5 different love languages. Let’s learn to love teenagers more effectively!

For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker

Hands down, this is the best book I read this year. While I’m sure men would find this book witty and charming, this one is mainly for the ladies. Jen Hatmaker will make you laugh until you cry as she covers marriage, parenting and important topics like yoga pants and coffee. In a world full of Pinterest and Instagram parents, Jen encourages women to break free of shame and impossible standards.

For Parents Only: Getting Inside the Head of Your Kid  by Shaunti Feldhahn

Written by the same person who wrote For Young Men/Women Only, this book uses a survey and interviews with teens and tweens to discuss things that parents don’t always understand about their children. This short book will cover topics such as their need for freedom, how the boundaries parents set impact teens, how to get teens to open up and talk to you, and ways to help them feel more secure and confident.

 

For youth ministers:

Lead Small: Five Big Ideas Every Small Group Leader Need to Know by Reggie Joiner

I read this book last fall and absolutely loved it! This book is great for small group (or Teen Lifeline Support Group) principles. By leading small, youth ministers, volunteers and small group leaders can have a tangible impact on teenagers’ lives. By investing, you can have a greater and more long-term relationship. This small books is a quick-read and will equip you to lead great small groups in your youth ministry.

Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality by Wesley Hill

It is not a secret, homosexuality is a no longer a topic that can be ignored by the church. Wesley Hill uses personal experience and scripture to discuss the question, Is there a place for “celibate, gay christians in the church?” I have loved the perspective and heart behind this book. It is not a book of judgement or condemnation but offers a message of hope and grace.

 

Have you read any other books lately that you would like to recommend? Please let us know your book suggestions and thoughts after you read some from our list! 

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