5keys belong ARTICLE Help children belong #03 A positive attitude and partnership

5keys belong ARTICLE Help children belong #03 A positive attitude and partnership

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A positive attitude and partnership

Working on attitudes and approaches helps overcome barriers to belonging.

People come a new place for a variety of reasons. They come from no experience, a good experience or a bad experience. Each of these make it tricky or difficult to be fully receptive to all the good things on offer in a new place. Belonging is therefore more difficult.

ARTICLE: Series: Help children belong #03

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Part of the work of a welcoming pastoral team in large churches and the whole church in small churches is to be able to listen to the story of new comers. Part of the privilege of this is to hear stories of joy and encouragement, of faith and blessing.

Many of the reasons for being in a new place are often positive, offering the possibilities of a fresh start. Excitement and potential are great to celebrate.
Sometimes the reasons for transitions are the basis of deep grief. It is entirely possible that even a single family member senses a loss that no one else feels. This can be true of children.

It is rare for to people transition from one place to another for whatever reason without baggage.’Baggage’ can mean many things. The idea of grief and loss has relevance here. It could include hurt or abuse of one sort or another including religious abuse. It may be that huge change came about quickly without the possibilities of a healthy and helpful process of ‘goodbye’.

The words, the feelings, the expressions of grief, anger, depression or blame being expressed in a household will all naturally influence how a child views their new context be that in a school, a neighbourhood or a faith community.

A child may very well have his own issues with the new situation. Nevertheless, he will very quickly picks up an opinion, attitude or vibe from his parent or siblings regarding a new place or activity. He may be influenced by this as one of the overall factors as to whether or not he senses he belongs or not.

As well as those situations mentioned above parents may be grieving the loss of a deep sense of belonging experienced in another time and place. In this grief and perhaps where unresolved issues are part of it, parents will not sense they belong to a place or group. Again, their grief-related comments will not help their child to sense they belong.

Likewise, the values of the faith community generally may not suit the adult at a particular time even though the group would be beneficial for the child. The little remarks or comments may not be dealt with in an even handed manner to help the child appropriately address the issues in order for him to make informed decisions for himself. Of course parents have the final say to protect their child but are sometimes unaware of the counterproductive attitudes they may be expressing either verbally or nonverbally that will spoil an otherwise productive experience for the child. As churches are aware of this, working in a partnership with parents will help deal with many or all of these pastoral care issues to negotiate how communities and households find alignment in their respective values and practices and in ways that will benefit each child.

It will take pastoral time, effort and prayer. Even then, a sense of belonging may not easily be fostered in a new context for some time, if ever. The least harm may be caused by partnering with the parent to realise this and at least be neutral, if not positive, in any approach to the new context for the sake of the child. The hope would be that even a neutral stance would not detract from any sense of belonging that is possible for anyone. It may even help.
Everyone would love to sense that a process of listening, love and prayer has brought some sense of healing to the parents. The resulting positive attitudes would certainly influence a child’s sense of belonging.

In the case of a child being brought to a new context not of his choosing, then there will more than likely be the sense of grief and loss present in the child. A surly face, a belligerent attitude towards those in the new context may be signs of this. The careful listening, care and prayer on behalf of a children’s or youth worker will be needed to pastorally help a child. Commitment to prayer and the journey of overcoming these negatives will increase possibility of the sense of belonging.

[phildup55/Phillip Day © midst.com.au This article is FreeShare.
Part or all of the text may be used provided it is not for profit
and provided it carries this complete, square-bracketed tag.] [hr toptext=”Last updated: 04/09/2014 … pd” size=”tiny” custom_size=”” hide_mobile_hr=”true”] [image url=”http://midst.com.au/wp-content/uploads/think11.png” title=”Reflection” alt=”http://midst.com.au/” raw=”true” alignment=”left” margin_left=”0″ margin_right=”10″ margin_top=”0″ margin_bottom=”-4″ width=”36″ height=”36″]

For reflection

What have you seen or heard of or experienced that relates to this?

• What are those times when we have ‘come with baggage’ to a new situation?
• What has helped us to belong again in a new place?
• What principles can be extracted from this that may bring insight to the situation for children?
•  Does this article help you to consider a child’s sense of belonging? What is a practical next step for you in this regard?
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Reference

We gratefully acknowledge the following sources.
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Notes

• Author: phildup55 • Date: 04/09/2014

• Personal pronouns used as required in this article: he/him

Copyright/freeshare
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