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Making a Difference in a Teen's Life

Making a Difference in a Teen's Life

Teenagers tend to get a bad rep. Oftentimes, they’re noisy, irritable and maybe even disrespectful. From an adult’s perspective, teens can be pretty hard to manage. However, the teenage years are actually a very valuable time in a person’s life. The teen’s brain is still developing, they’re on the cusp of adulthood and they’re trying to figure out their identity. Not to mention, middle and high school can be a tough place to find friends and feel accepted.

Teenagers have a lot to manage and not a lot of life experience to utilize, which can result in a bad attitude and frustrating relationships. All of this is exactly why teenagers need valuable adult relationships in their lives. They need someone they can look up to, feel connected with and know they can go to during difficult times. If you’re an adult trying to live a more altruistic life, one of the most valuable contributions you can make is supporting a teenager.

Teenagers are our future; by building them up and encouraging them—even if they’re not our own children—we can create a better future for generations to come. Still, how do you start? How can you establish a valuable relationship with a teenager? Today we dive into some ways to make a difference in a teen’s life.

1. Volunteer with school programs.
One of the easiest ways to make a difference in a teenager’s life is by volunteering through a school or afterschool program. Whether you help out as a coach for a sport team, take charge of a club or work with a nonprofit organization, you can connect with teenagers of all different backgrounds in your community. Programs like these are constantly looking for new volunteers, and oftentimes will even provide valuable resources to help you learn more about communicating with teenagers. Check in your community to see what programs are available through the school or through an organization and learn how you can get more involved.

2. Show up consistently.
How do you gain a teenager’s trust? Keep showing up. People—teens especially—value those relationships with those who are there for them, no matter what. If you find a worthwhile program that you want to volunteer with, don’t just make it a one-time thing. One-time volunteering doesn’t allow you to build any sustainable relationships. Instead, keep showing up consistently, so the teens can get to know you more and more. The more you show up, the more they will recognize you and feel comfortable opening up.

3. Give them food.
Honestly, who doesn’t love food? As Charles M. Schulz said, “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” Teens are no different—they go where the food is. And since teenagers often aren’t done growing yet, they need a lot of it. They also don’t have very much of their own money. When you spend time with teenagers, make them a home-cooked meal, take them out for fast food or even provide some snacks to really help build up a stable relationship. You’d be surprised how many teens will come for the free food, then stay for the conversation and bonding time.

4. Listen to them.
All of us want to know that someone out there hears us, including teens. Think about it—teens spend the majority of their day listening to adults tell them what to do. It’s no wonder they can feel frustrated sometimes; they don’t feel heard. The most valuable thing you can do to make a difference in a teenager’s life is simply to listen to them. Listening—true listening—is a gift. Listen to a teenager’s problems, struggles and joys in life without being quick to offer advice or condemn their choices. By opening up and really listening, you can truly be a meaningful person for teenagers to go to.

Teenagers are the future of our community. By investing in them, we invest in generations to come. Use these tips to get involved and make a difference in a teen’s life today.

Our Impact in 2017

January 1-December 31
  • CAPSA is a non-profit domestic violence, sexual abuse, and rape recovery center serving Cache County and the Bear Lake area.

  • YCC Family Crisis Center is a domestic violence shelter and rape crisis center provide services 24/7 to victims and their children.

  • Utah Legal Services (ULS) is a nonprofit law office incorporated in 1976 committed to making equal justice a reality by providing free legal help in non-criminal cases to low-income Utahns.

  • South Valley Services is a domestic violence service provider in West Jordan, Utah. We provide safe shelter and supportive services to women, men and their children who have been impacted by domestic violence.

  • Today, the YWCA is Utah’s most comprehensive provider of family violence services; our programs include walk-in services and a crisis line, emergency shelter, transitional housing, children’s programs, and a vast array of supportive services.

  • Established in 1990, Seekhaven assists survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault rebuild their lives. Serving Grand County and Southeastern Utah, Seekhaven provides a wide range of essential services including client advocacy, emergency shelter, and transition assistance.

  • Peace House is dedicated to ending family violence and abuse through education, outreach, support services, and safe housing.

  • New Hope Crisis Center has been serving Box Elder County for 30 years. Our mission is to provide all-inclusive, integrated, victim-centered services to stabilize and support individuals, families, and our community.

  • Founded in 1984, The Center for Women and Children in Crisis has been in continuous operation for 33 years. Our mission is to provide a caring, advocating, safe, and educationally based environment for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

  • Our organization advocates for victims of domestic violence, rape and sexual assault, and the homeless. Serving people in Sevier, Piute, Millard, Sanpete and Wayne counties of Utah.

  • The DOVE Center is the only area agency providing safe-shelter, crisis intervention, and prevention for clients who have been victimized by violence in their home – whether by a family member or cohabitant – that also serves victims of rape and sexual assault.

  • Founded in 1922, Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake is a non-profit organization that promotes safety, stability and self-sufficiency for low income families and individuals, as well as victims of domestic violence, through effective, efficient legal advocacy and assistance.

  • Canyon Creek Services provides free and confidential services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in Iron, Beaver and Garfield Counties.

  • Valley Behavioral Health is a nonprofit network of clinics providing treatment for behavioral conditions, addictions, psychiatric conditions, autism and other chronic health conditions. We treat chronic lifelong conditions as well as temporary conditions triggered by traumatic life events. Our programs are tailored to people of all ages and every social, cultural and economic situation.

  • Preserve the heritage. Enhance the wellbeing. Strengthen the future of the People.

  • Our Mission: To bring hope, justice, and healing to victims of domestic violence murder by providing holistic non-profit legal representation in the civil, probate and family courts.

  • At Amethyst Center for Healing we are dedicated to helping individuals, families, and communities recover from trauma and abuse, so that we may all live peaceful, empowered lives.

© 2018 Utah Domestic Violence Coalition

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