Posted: 05 December 2015

Advent: Someone who believes in us

Each Saturday of Advent we have invited a young blogger to share their reflections in our Advent calendar, having read some stories of young people we hear day in, day out.

This week it is Joanna's turn, as she reflects on the importance of having parents who believe in you.

Someone who believes in us

I started walking on a family holiday in Guernsey. I was a bit older than most who undertake the task of putting one foot in front of the other for the first time, so my parents were especially overjoyed by this momentous occasion. Despite not being able to remember it, I’ve heard the story and it sounds like a very special day.

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Help us stop child sexual exploitation this Advent

Find out more about child sexual exploitation this Advent

My parents watched me take my very first steps, but I’m certain that I wouldn’t have walked again had it not been for their encouraging faces and squeals of excitement. Because even as a child, I knew that they believed in me. Today as a 20-something writer, they still encourage me and tell me that I’m doing well. Those words are invaluable; the highest praise. You probably know it too - when those you love say something meaningful.  A “well done”, or “keep going” from them is enough to drive you forward, and push you on.

Encouragement is an important part of our development and it’s most valuable as we’re progressing in some way; taking first steps, going to school, becoming a teenager. It’s the people who believe in us who are helping us to thrive. Without them we can get lost.

This is perhaps most vital as we develop from childhood to adulthood. Those teenage years are a time of testing new waters and becoming independent. Without someone who believes in us, things can quickly start going wrong.

Chloe's story

For Chloe, things are going wrong because her teenage years were defined by a lack of emotional support from her alcoholic Dad. Without this support, her behaviour has gone out of control. Now she’s 16 the law states she can live on her own, and she will soon be moved to her own flat. But without someone who believes in her, Chloe won’t be able to thrive. She needs someone who believes in her.

But for Jemma, it’s different. Things were going wrong because at 16, she was dependent on drugs and had tried to commit suicide. Her lifeline was a social worker who believed in her - who kept persisting even though they didn’t have to. As a result she was given support from a drug and alcohol service which helped to turn her life around. Now that she’s 18, she’s in education and isn’t taking drugs. All because of persistent support; someone who cheered her on.

Encouragement from others is most valuable in our transitioning periods. We can all identify with the need to be supported; to have someone who believes in us. Becoming an adult is a scary thing, yet the law is patchy on when that actually happens. It means that Chloe doesn’t get the support she needs to transition properly. It means that nobody is believing in her or supporting her properly through a difficult situation.

We need to ensure that support reaches the most vulnerable 16 and 17 year olds, because we’re all humans. We all need someone who believes in us.

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Help us stop child sexual exploitation this Advent

Find out more about child sexual exploitation this Advent
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