I am continually amazed by the inherent power of talking about Youth Voice at home. Whether I’m getting into a heated conversation with my own mother, talking with other parents, or pondering the idea with youth workers or teachers, conversations continuously pack intensity, presence and possibility. Almost everytime I’ve began this talk the talk has become intensified, as there are a lot of loaded issues, passionate perspectives and impregnated experiences that occupy the closets of each of our imaginations, memories and ideas. Mmm, mmm, mmm.
When I talk about Youth Voice at home I am talking about changing the roles of young people within the house. Its not as easy as giving children and youth a place to sit at the dinner table or a say over where, how, when and why their money is spent, although each of those is a component of changing the roles. Rather, I’m talking about a comprehensive re-imagining of the roles, responsibilities and rights of young people throughout the households where they live.
This is a practical consideration more than a philosophical or theoretical one. After these most recent of years of working intensely with a wide range of communities across the US and Canada, I have come to believe that our society is facing a dilemma. More rapidly than ever before in the history of our society the technical and social skills of young people are evolving. This isn’t intended to be a value judgment about the value or deficit inherent in that evolution; rather its simply an observation. That evolution was carefully constructed with both the sociological and technological developments of the 1960s: protest became reaffirmed as a right and laptops became realized as a reality. With this evolution is a growing gap between young people and adults. There is only way we, as a society, can bridge that gap: by transitioning the roles of young people throughout society from that of passive recipient to active partner.
So far the Youth Voice movement has carefully examined a number of different institutions in our communities, including government, schools, community organizations and churches. However, we have largely neglected the home setting. There have been other agents calling for familial change that looks conspicuously similar to the Youth Voice movement, but none from within our ranks.
In the next year I’m going to move my analysis in that direction as I continue to work on book proposals for publishers. Stick with me, share your ideas and lets see how deep we can take this work.