The Long Game
By Clare Ogle, an MHS houseparent
When it comes to houseparenting, I like to tell people that we’re playing the long game. When we’re dealing with people, especially teens, we can’t go into it expecting short-term, instant gratification on a regular basis.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it happens. Sometimes a student will come to MHS and everything will click right away. They will be polite, grateful, and happy most of the time. And when that does happen, it’s glorious!
But it’s important for me to remember that when that doesn’t happen, it’s okay. This is where the long game concept comes into play.
It’s the idea that we’re in this for the long haul. We’re in it for the senior who finally gets it, or for the phone call from one of our students in college or after college.
It’s accepting the fact that it might take 1,001 conversations for a student to understand what it means to take responsibility for his actions, but knowing that one day he might admit his faults to a friend he hurts. It’s accepting the fact that the guys might not be grateful in the moment when we’re developing their social and emotional learning skills, but knowing they will hopefully become compassionate adults and contributors to society because they learned how to deal with their emotions appropriately. It’s accepting that we might not hear the words “thank you” as often as we’d like, but knowing they might come years later.
We have to be confident knowing we’re doing the best we can because it’s what we are called to do.
It’s our job to teach, model, and be patient. It’s not our job to force ideas or concepts onto our students.
If they’re forced to do something, is it really a change of heart or is it simply a change of action? I think a change of heart can come from a change in action, but I also believe that I can’t make someone change.
In that vein, we will keep pressing on and playing the long game…for as long as it takes to get it right.