Growing up, children are often confused about who they are and what they can become. They don't need more information. Information comes at us from all directions—from parents, peers, teachers, and ever present social media. But recent research from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has shown that young people are suffering from record levels of depression and hopelessness and one in three teenage girls has considered suicide.
What young people need today is not more information but inspiration. They need hope. Research has revealed that it takes only one caring adult to make a difference in how young people see themselves and their future. Researchers Emmy Werner and Ruth Smith's classic longitudinal study has shown that knowing one supportive adult enables at-risk youth to overcome negative circumstances and lead successful, meaningful lives.
For over three decades, these researchers studied the lives of over five hundred young people on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Many came from dysfunctional families, compromised by chronic poverty and unstable home environments with divorce, discord, abuse, alcoholism, and mental illness. Yet some managed to flourish, overcoming their obstacles because of one person in their lives—an aunt, uncle, or grandparent, teacher, minister, coach, or neighbor who saw them, encouraged them, and helped them see beyond their current circumstances to believe in themselves and their future.
As research has shown, it only takes one caring adult to help a young person develop resilience. To experience this, please join me in this brief meditation.
- Close your eyes and take a deep mindful breath and release it.
- As you slowly breathe in and breathe out, can you recall the first adult who really saw you, who brought new hope to your life?
- Who was this person--a teacher, coach, aunt or uncle, a helpful neighbor, scout leader, or someone else?
- What did they do or say—a kind word, a meaningful conversation, a gesture of respect and understanding? Something else?
Pause and experience this for a moment. How do you feel?
Now ask yourself, "How can I be that one caring adult for a young person in my life today?"
I wish you joy on the path.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, February13). U.S. teen girls experiencing increased sadness and violence. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC Newsroom. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2023/p0213-yrbs.html
 Werner, E. E. & Smith, R. S. (1992). Overcoming the odds; High risk children from birth to adulthood. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.