One of my favorite summer pastimes is canoeing. I enjoy calm rivers like the Jordan and Bear. Paddling past farms and wetlands, seeing the world from a very different point of view. Even though the river is usually calm, a paddle is an essential part of the gear required to have a fun and safe trip.
I recently read a story about two teenage brothers who decided to go rafting down a creek without paddles. They thought, “the river isn’t too rough, we will just see where it takes us”. They started out enjoying the ride, seeing snakes, turtles, and shiny rocks. But they soon learned that when a low tree branch was in the way, trying to paddle with your hands does not have enough power to keep you from getting scratched, poked and feeling like they had been “run over by sandpaper”.
The saying “up a creek without a paddle” refers to being put in a situation that is uncomfortable or even dangerous with no easy way out. But in the story the boys put themselves in the bad situation and then later realized the consequences. Going through life “without a paddle” means without goals and focus. This approach to life may seem fun for awhile but can lead to some “sandpaper” consequences.
What Lies Ahead
Many of the youth we see have experienced this. Without thinking “what lies ahead” youth can get involved in risky behaviors, like skipping school or give in to negative peer pressure to drink or smoke. This can result in bad grades, family problems and/or court charges.
Through our free counseling and life skills groups , we help youth and families who don’t have set goals or direction, map out their life journey to get to where they want to go; we help these families realize they do have a choice to make their “journey down the river” a smooth and pleasant ride by having the proper gear and steering clear of the “large rocks and low branches.”
Here’s a couple of examples how some families have benefitted from “getting the proper gear.”
- I was able to open up about my life, set my goals and really find out what I needed to set my life on track. Amanda was amazing. (teen testimonial)
- I had a great experience at counseling. It really helped me to look more into my future and see what was better for myself. It became something I looked forward to each week. It was great support. (teen testimonial)
- Alan was (my son’s) counselor, as court ordered. He helped (my son) understand what his behaviors caused and he gently reminded me of my narrow minded parenting skills. I learned to step back and look at the big picture and take into account (my son’s) needs. I know (my son) grew – whether he will use these strategies, time will tell. I know I will. (parent testimonial)
Whether utilizing our services or doing it on your own, it’s important to find the “paddles” that work for you and your family.
Your Two Cents:
As a parent, what are some of the “paddles” that you use to help your youth or your family on their journey?
As a teen, what are some of the “sandpaper” consequences that you have experienced or avoided and how has that helped you prepare for the future?
I hope both youth and parents can see the purpose for paddles and use them to make the best path down the river of life.