For several years I met with a teenage girl who was labelled as “at risk” for engaging in unsafe behaviors. Initially, I assumed that there was not much that I could say or do to help her. If this girl was making bad decisions despite the protests of her parents, family, and teachers, what could I possibly add that they hadn’t already tried.
I soon realized how wrong I was. As we spent more time together our relationship strengthened and I slowly began to see that she listened to, remembered, and valued everything that I said and did with her, even if she didn’t outwardly respond. It was at this point that I realized the value of our relationship; it’s not what I said, or did, but just that I was there with her. By the time that our mentorship was coming to an end it may not have been obvious that any change had occurred. She dressed the same and still spent time with many of the same friends. But she had grown exponentially in her feelings of self-worth and self-confidence. Although she hadn’t outwardly “changed”, I’m glad that our relationship helped move her toward happiness and self-respect.