The past few weeks I have felt more like a Social Worker than a Director of Religious Education. I've been working with one family to help them get their bills paid so they don't get evicted, tried to help them find affordable childcare and referred them to charities...as well as many other things.
I've been dealing with a few such families as of late- and I don't always feel prepared for how to deal with these situations- it's not part of my training. I was trained in theology and education- not social work- and some days, I wonder if I give the right advice and refer people to the right places. Even though I talk to all the proper authorities first, I always feel like I'm in waist-deep. Perhaps that's because being a DRE is not just about Religious Education, it's about ministry.
Tonight, I had a child who decided to leave the building because he didn't want to be in class. A seventh grader. A HUGE seventh grader. Somehow (by the grace of God) I was able to talk him into coming back into my office and have a discussion with him about why he didn't believe in God. When his Dad showed up to pick him up, he told me that "Freddy*" (Name change here), "does this all the time at school."
"Try to leave the school campus?"
"Yes- he just wants to get a rise out of you."
"Well, I would have called the police. We take these things very seriously."
And all the while I'm thinking...And WHY do you seem okay with this?!
"Freddy's" parents are divorced and have conflicting values, and the poor kid doesn't know which way he wants to go- only that he wants to be heard- that he wants someone to care. (Which is still no excuse for being hard-headed and obstinate- but at least I know why he's acting the way he does.) The family, myself and the priests are having a meeting next week to make a "plan" for Freddy.
I'm amazed at how the deterioration of the family affects children, and how those children act. I don't blame them...but I DO feel so sorry for them. What pain and heavy crosses they carry at so young an age!
Our youth and their families need us to storm Heaven with prayers for them!