So I’m watching Riverdale and there’s a character who’s dad is an alcoholic and a total flake. He keeps making all these promises that he’s going to get his act together and get clean and that they can be a proper family again. And his son knows it’s not true but he hopes it is and he just can’t give up on his dad.
And yes it’s a TV show but as a youth worker this isn’t an unfamiliar story. So many young people have similar experiences. Parents promising them that they’ll get clean, that this time they won’t take the abusive boyfriend back, that this time will be different. And the young people aren’t stupid they know it’s probably not going to happen but it’s their family. How can they give up on them?
It’s heartbreaking. As a youth worker I don’t want to dash the hopes of the young person but I also don’t want to give them false hope. As a Christian/human being I believe that no one is beyond redemption and nobody is past the point of changing but I also don’t want to let the young people pin their hopes on a change that might never happen.
I don’t have answers. There’s only one change I’ve thought to make. I never make promises to my young people unless I know with 100% certainty that I will be able to keep that promise. Some of my young people don’t have people to rely on, they don’t have someone making promises they can trust in, I don’t want to be another one of those people.
Any ideas, suggestions, advice are welcome.