Met with my tutor group from CYM today who are a top top bunch. One of the students led a discussion exploring how far we can be friends with young people within ‘professional’ youth work. The group flagged up the attributes of friendship and the attributes of professional practice, then compared the two. Obviously there were overlaps and area’s where they were incompatible but it proved a valuable exercise and re-inforced the need to examine and define where boundaries lay in ALL youth work situations.
Needless to say that we wouldn’t/couldn’t have achieved a universal consensus but identified some useful principles around:
1. Never letting young people meet our emotional needs
2. Not creating a dependancy on us.
We were really into cliches today (as we were looking at concepts around ‘team’) So the cliched summary was
“We are friends to young people, not friends with young people!” or ” We Befriend rather than Be Friends”
None of which stops us investing our time, talents, love and energy in the lives of the young people we serve!