Advice vs. Advising

One of my blogs this week was on advice. I posed the question on Twitter about the best advice you have given and the best advice you have received.

As I posed the questions, I took the time to reflect on all of the advice I have received and the times I have advised others. I have been blessed to enjoy many opportunities, but one young lady stands out to me.

“Mrs. Yoho, you have a new student who will be joining your classroom. Could we talk to you in the hallway for a few minutes? Mrs. Smith will take over while we talk.”

“Mrs. Yoho, I believe you already know Mr. and Mrs. Jones. They have a foster child joining their family. Let me introduce you to Jessica.”

Great to meet you, Jessica. I am so happy you will be joining our class today. I have to warn you we can get a little silly from time to time, but we will clue you in on our classroom expectations and how we do things. Let’s meet the class.

I can remember that day so many years ago and the look on her face that day. Over the years, I can remember the many faces of Jessica and her outbursts as we would spend four years together. She spent one year in my 5th-grade classroom, and then the next three years in the middle school, I served as Assistant Principal.

Jessica’s story began with her parents leaving her in a car seat at the end of the driveway to her grandparent’s home. She was removed from this home when it was discovered her grandfather was sexually abusing her. She had been in a couple of other foster homes, which were unsuccessful in meeting her needs. Now she was in an established home I was familiar with.

I have changed the names in my story and do not want to give too much information that could reveal the identities of others. Jessica began to have many issues. Then one day, as we were in one of our discussions, her words came out to a story my mind could not piece together.

“Mrs. Yoho, he is making me watch stuff and wants me to do things.”

We need to tell someone about this. It would help if you talked to someone about all of what is happening with you. It is okay to trust to tell someone when someone is hurting you. We need someone to help us.

Sometimes you can provide a little advice and guidance. When you recognize the information you are receiving is more than you can advise on, it is essential to make the other person know someone else needs to be involved.

One of the lessons I learned was always to begin conversations by letting the other person know if they share something about hurting themselves or others, you have to share with someone who could help.

Jessica’s story ended with her being safe with people who cared for her. She was able to turn things around in her life and begin to make some positive changes. She mailed me a long letter and a poem she wrote about me.

Keeping your door open to allow others to seek advice is the first step in hearing the needs others have. Taking steps to offer support is the step to begin the process of healing. Be the solution daily. It is never easy; you will experience lots of pushback, but in the end, others need to know you never gave up in a world so many do.

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