Guest Author - Terrie Lynn Bittner
School is out for the year, and your seniors are reluctantly facing the end of their youth program. Many of them donít want to attend Gospel Doctrine, Relief Society, Enrichment or any other ďboringĒ adult program where they donít have any friends. This is particularly true in small wards, where a teenager might graduate alone, and where there may not be a strong Young Single Adult program. This transition is particularly difficult for youth who have moved into the ward during their senior year and may not have developed close friendships with others their age. The youth leaders can play an essential role in making this transition a smooth one.
Begin thinking of your seniors as adults this summer. Sit with them when they attend their first adult meetings, so they donít have to sit with their parents. Sometimes graduating seniors feel like everyone still sees them as the children of their parents, and not as "real" adults with separate identities. Introduce them to younger adults, particularly those who are unmarried or do not have children. Help them meet adults who share similar interests. Ask for their advice in dealing with younger teenagers or in planning activities. Spend some informal time with them outside of classes if this is appropriate.
Reflect on your own feelings about the adult programs. Be sure you speak positively of the programs for adults, and share with your students how these programs have enriched your own life. You are role models, and your feelings influence your students more than you can imagine.
You have loved these seniors for many years. Be sure to stay in their lives so they understand that this love was real and permanent, and not just "your job." By doing so, you will continue to be an essential influence in the coming years of growth and change.
Where Do I Go from Here?: Finding Your Personal Mission as a Young Adult Woman