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Posted by Philip on 23 February 2013, 1:27 pm in , , , , , , ,

The week that was: 15-22 Feb 2013

I haven't felt compelled to blog for a while so I thought I might try a new blogging format for a while and look back on the week in reflection and see what themes and insights emerge. I immediately feel slightly daunted by the task as I take a look at my calendar to jog my memory of the highlights.

Teenage guardianship

The most significant change of the week is that, last Saturday, I became the official guardian of a long-time friend's 14-year old daughter. This is quite an adjustment in both my default living arrangement and "parental" status. I have lived alone for as many years as I can remember and, apart from a few dogs and cats, have never been responsible for any other being but me.

The circumstances are that my friend's daughter, whom I've known since she was born in her parents' living room on Waiheke Island, chose last year to leave Ohakune, where her family has lived for about seven years, in order to attend Western Springs College, which is five minutes walk from where I live. She boarded with others of her Mum's friends last year and visited me each Tuesday after school. This year her boarding situation changed, due to the friends' living arrangements changing, so it was a bit of a no-brainer for her to come and live with me.

So, I rented a caravan to store stuff that was in the hall cupboard; moved the office stuff from the spare room to the hall cupboard, and took in a flatmate a third of my age.

One week on, I can hesitantly say, it's working well. I say, "hesitantly", because I don't want to jinx things by saying it's too good too soon. But I am looking forward to practicing what I preach when it comes to young people. While I realise I'm not her parent and so the dynamic is different, I'm already noticing a few of my theories seem to be working:

  • Having a humourous and light-hearted relationship seems to work well;
  • Using observation and explanation, rather than accusation and threat has a good outcome: "I found the coffee machine on this morning – I'm worried it'll overheat and burn the house down," rather than, "You left the coffee machine on –if you leave it on again you won't be allowed to make coffee." (Going back to humour, I couldn't help but quip, "You're forgiven, but next time you're out!" in response to her genuine apology.)
  • It seems to me, when thinking about the problems parents have with teenagers, that some of it may be linked to freedom and boundaries. This blog post a friend emailed me this morning about the two roles in relationships seems very relevant to teen/parent relationships — teens are definitely the bird and parents, the hand.

Crowd-funding

On the work front, this week we began a crowd-funding campaign to print 1000 of Diversityworks Trust's kids' book, “My Friend is a Superhero”. Duffy's Books in Homes have agreed to distribute the books to 500 lower-decile schools throughout NZ. So, if you haven't already — and thank you if you have — please visit our PledgeMe campaign, take a look at our pretty cool video, join our cause and share the love.

While your over at PlledgeMe you might want to lend a hand to the National Youth Drama School, who have asked me to speak at their opening in April and need help covering my expenses.

Recruitment

One of my consulting jobs this week was to help recruit for a couple of local government roles. The experience affirmed to me how complex recruitment is, as well as how important it is to balance objectivity and subjectivity. To say recruitment should be completely objective is simply a myth, but to be too subjective is risky and unfair.

I realise I've had quite some experience recruiting over the years, both for myself and clients. Being able to distance oneself enough to make sense of more than what you feel about a candidate, but to not be so distant that you don't notice how you feel, is a fine but crucial line in making the best decision.

Mixing it up

Finally, on Thursday night, I went to see Linkin Park in concert. It was, to quote lead singer Chester Bennington, "Fuckin' awesome, man!" A slick show, great sound, great graphics and an impressive mix of old and new tracks (though I would have liked to hear "Crawling" from Hybrid Theory and "The Messenger" from A Thousand Suns).

What made the night for me though, leaving me with an odd sense of hope for the future in terms of diversity, creativity and social change, was the audience mix — all ethnicities, genders, ages from 6 to 60 and a packed-out wheelchair section.

If anything has and always will bring people together, it's music. Because, as Linkin Park say themselves, when it comes to our differences, "in the end it doesn't really matter," and imagine the world if we would just "let it go."

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