Breathing Space 2015 – #BSpace15 Session 4

4 Mar

And so, after a lovely, relaxing day of simply spending time chilling out together, we come together for the fourth session of Breathing Space.

Our theme for tonight is “Co-dependent behaviour and leadership”. Susie says that it is a very important area of youth ministry, but also a rarely talked about one.

Co-dependent behaviour is about how one person’s behaviour can affect another, particularly in the case of youth work where youth workers can often forget about the boundaries that they normally work to, forgetting where the young person’s responsibilities begin and the youth worker’s responsibilities end. We can do too much, care too much feel too little or overly engage with them. It is natural for us to want to protect and help the people that we care about, as well as be affected and react to the people around us. As problems become mor serious and remain unresolved we become more affected by them and react more intensely by them.

Co-dependency is heavily related to control. When this happens in relationships it can mean that people misunderstand feelings, such as love.

We look at 4 traits of co-dependent behaviour:

  • Getting ourselves too involved in other people’s stuff
  • Allowing their problems to control us
  • Reacting rather than taking right action
  • Thinking and acting like we ar helping when we aren’t

The first stage of a co-dependent relationship is a need to be liked. This will include telling the young people what they want to hear, manipulating them to like us and avoiding conflict so that they don’t reject us.

The second stage is a disregard for boundaries. This includes wanting closeness, disrespecting personal boundaries, a need to spend as much time with them as possible, share problems and demand a high level of loyalty from them.

The third stage is controlling care. This includes confusion between caring about young people and taking care of the, an insistence on helping young people even if they don’t need it and revisiting old issues to regain control.

The fourth stage is a fixing mentality. This includes going beyond care and meeting needs, invading boundaries further and the “fix it” mentality informs the relationship.

The fifth and final stage is the manipulation of loyalty. This is when workers project hurt feelings and sadness when manipulation doesn’t work. Feelings are projected onto the young person to the point that the young person feel that it’s their fault that the worker is feeling that way. This can manipulate feelings of guilt and disappointment for the young person.

We need to remember that in our emotional relationships with young people we need to respect the young person’s privacy and their rights, never assume/insist/demand anything of them, not pester/impose ourselves in their lives when we are not welcome and communicate authentically.

We need to be reflective practitioners, ensure we have thought through our approach to young people, think about the way our relationships with young people are developing, respond appropriately and sensitivity if we have concerns about other youth workers and cream opportunities for interdependence and not dependence.

Carl Buechner – “they may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel”

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