Series – Talking to Your Youth (Part 3)

Insight 2. Be Non-Judgmental

Have you ever looked back on your life and said to yourself, “Wow, I definitely should have made a different choice”? I like to think we've all been there. Some call it regret, others don't. Whatever it is that we call it, we are reflecting back on our past choices and we wish we would have had the insight to make a different choice. And for some of those choices, we would even PAY to go back in time to make the change ourselves!

Well, there are two things to keep in mind:

  1. I believe there are times in all of our lives when we make choices we want to take back, and that is perfectly normal, but
  2. We make decisions based on the information and feelings we had at the time we made the choice.

When we look back and say, “I wish I would have made a different decision,” that’s because you have new knowledge now. In the moment you made your decision, you made the best decision you could with the information, feelings, and emotions you had in that moment. After you made your choice, you gained new knowledge, and that knowledge informs your future decisions.

The same thing happens with youth: They have a certain set of knowledge in which they are trying to make the best decisions they can with the information, feelings, and emotions they are feeling in the moment. Granted, there are times we wish they had more information, but that's why we learn and that's why we educate.

We have knowledge youth don’t have. We have experiences youth have not experienced. So their choices may not be exactly what you would choose or would have chosen, but your job is to not pass judgment on what they know and how they feel, because they are doing the best they can with that information! Our job is to help them learn and gain new knowledge. It is also the reason why we engage in preventative conversations, meaning we provide as much information as possible now, in the hopes that the best choices will be made in the future.

Will the best choices be made with the all the information in the world? Not every time. But our job is not to pass judgment on people's choices, especially our youth. Our choices are in our past, and the opportunity in the present is to help learn and grow with our youth, not judge them for what's happened.