One of the things we have been learning to work through are difficult parents. As a faith-based organization, we respect the standards by which parents choose to see their youth develop, and so try to work with parents as fruitfully as possible. We make sure the parents are aware of how the Youth Collaborative is supplementing the upbringing of their teens, such as by helping out in growth areas that the parents expressed concern about.
Unfortunately, in other cases, there are parents who simply are not invested. Not only are they not invested, but they are routinely a source of conflict for their households.
Recently, the church donated a few laptops to our young entrepreneurs who didn't have a computer at home, so that they could have extra opportunity to work on some of their projects and connect with our community. There were people in our church community gracious enough to give us their old computers, and another volunteer leader who sacrificed his time to fix them up for us. Most of the parents were surprised by our generosity. But we knew that there was one household that might present some challenges, due to the mother's erratic behaviors and criminal history in the past. We thought that by giving her proper forewarning, she would cooperate with the program. But we were unprepared by her audacity. This mom stole her child's laptop and sold it on the street.
The teen in question wasn't very surprised. As our young friend told us: That's the way she's always been. I don't even get mad anymore. There's no point when nothing ever changes. All I can do is wait until I turn 18. The second the clock hits midnight, I'm out of here.
It's darkly humorous, thinking about the diverse range of socioeconomic problems our teens in the city are dealing with. Some kids complain because their parents restrict their internet access. Others are upset about how their parents tend to meddle in their romantic affairs, or their career choices, or their free time.
But then there are those who have to figure it out all on their own.