As I sit here on the ferry and stare out the window, I see the North Island slowly slip away in the distance. During my time in Auckland I worked with children in care and protection who were uplifted from homes where their lives were at risk, and also children who stayed in a residential camp for a few weeks due to environmental and behavioural reasons. I also worked as a teacher in one of Auckland’s most prestigious suburbs with children who society thinks “have it easy” simply because their homes have a steady stream of income.
When I speak with people about my time working with children experiencing hardship and trauma, they often say “I don’t think I could do that” or “I wouldn’t know how to help them” or “I wouldn’t know what to say to them” or “it would break my heart, i’m not strong enough”.
The truth is. Let me tell you the hard truth mates... every child, no matter if they live in a house with no windows, or a mansion with sea views, if they are dressed in ripped clothes they have been wearing for a week, or the latest Country Road threads, no matter if they go home to no food in the house, or go home to a nutritious hot meal. Each child no matter their environment, social class or life experiences deserve exactly the same thing from the adults around them. These things are priceless, they don’t cost a dime or require any special training or certification.
They ALL are worthy of unconditional love, respect and nurture. They ALL are worthy of caring attuned adults. They all have needs and emotions that need to be responded to no matter if you think they have adults that “spoil” them, or adults that neglect them. No one child deserves more respect than another. No child should ever be tiptoed around because “I don’t know how to help them” no child should ever be avoided because “they probably have lots of money and have a good life”.
From the baby in my arms that had been uplifted from their home because they were being starved and abused, to the baby in my arms that comes from a nurturing, responsive home... they both received the same unconditional love.