How would a (non Native) Pagan woman function correctly as an Auntie for a Native young woman? Shes refusing to bond with a Native Auntie and is asking me for help. I CANT tell her no. Shes too important to me.
Hi there! Thanks writing in.
I love that you want to be supportive for a young person looking for guidance. The benefits of a caring adult mentor on children’s well-being have been reinforced in study after study, as well as reports from youth themselves.
The best way to be a supportive caring adult is to:
- Listen. If you are curious about what’s going on in your mentee’s life, simply sit back and listening. No need to ask direct questions. Kids are more likely to be open with their parents or caring adults, if they don’t feel pressured to share information. Remember even an offhand comment about something that happened during the day is her way of reaching out, and you’re likely to hear more if you stay open and interested — but not prying.
- Validate their feelings. It is often our tendency to try to solve problems for youth, or downplay their disappointments. But saying something like “She wasn’t right for you anyway” after a romantic disappointment can feel dismissive. Instead, show kids that you understand and empathize by reflecting the comment back: “Wow, that does sound difficult.”
- Show trust. Youth want to be taken seriously, especially by their parents and caring adults. Look for ways to show that you trust them. Asking him for a favor shows that you rely on him. Volunteering a privilege shows that you think he can handle it. Letting your youth know you have faith in him will boost his confidence and make him more likely to rise to the occasion.
Lastly, you can become a better ally to Indigenous youth and here’s how you can do it:
- School Yourself – It’s important to learn as much as you can about the tribes you’re around, especially the tribe that your youth
is from. Keep in mind that every tribe has its own culture and history. While there are similarities between tribes and during this century we
have come together to fight many battles such as land, human, and sovereign rights, each tribe is uniquely its own. For example, I come from a
pueblo tribe in the SW, our history and culture is different from tribes across the rest of Indian Country, Alaska, and Pacific Islanders. You
can start by Googling tribes in your area and from where your youth is from and work from there. Look for official tribal websites.
- Join the Party! – See if there are any local ways to get involved. You can check to see if your youth’s school has a Native American Advisory Club, upcoming tribal or pow-wow events, or Native youth group and encourage her to get involved.
I hope this helps and thanks for writing in!