It's About Them

Young People … Our Greatest Resource

Do You Have the Key?

Do You Have the Key?

 I was sifting through some of my past newsletters and this piece from a 1991 newsletter caught my attention. I thought it worth sharing.

James Sutton, Psychologist

P.S. The “kid” in this article will be 33 this November.


 I had borrowed a pair of handcuffs from the county sheriff with plans to use them in a lecture on alcoholism and codependency. They were sitting on my desk when my 17-year-old spotted them.

“Do you have a key for these, Dad?” he asked, as he picked them up.

“I do,” I replied, hitting the save key on the computer.

He immediately snapped the handcuff over both his wrists and cinched them down tight.

“Jamie!” I gasped. “Yeah, I have the key, but I never said I had it with me. What are you going to do if I tell you the key to those cuffs is in my office in San Antonio (45 miles away).”

The kid didn’t even flinch as he held out his hands. “Come on, Dad. You’d never let me snap these things on my wrists if you didn’t have the key with you,” he said confidently.

I dug into my pocket and gave him the key.

It’s refreshing to work with young people who are striving to be naturally spontaneous and are learning to take appropriate risks (although I’m no sure handcuffs qualify). As caring adults, we should always encourage this kind of growth. Young people constantly look to us to share their joys and process their failures. For them, we hold the key that shows them how to gain maximum benefit from their experiences, the good ones and the not-so-good ones.

Don’t forget to keep the key with you. You’ll never know when it will be needed.


September 26, 2006 - Posted by | Difficult Child, Educators, Inspirational, Parents, Self-esteem

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