How many teachers have you had throughout your education? How many left a lifelong impression? For me that number is easy, it was one.
His name was Mr. Horvath, coach of my junior basketball team. Unknown to him, or to me at the time, he influenced an important shift in my life. I entered High School with a dark secret, I had no self-belief.
Mr. Horvath, he was Scandinavian blond, Adonis-handsome, a chiseled godlike physique with the heart of an innocent boy beaming. It’s nothing he said or did in particular that influenced me, he was just there when my talent at playing a game started to blossom, and I got a glimpse of my true asset: me.
Youth is a dangerous era in life. It’s the stepping off the curb onto the freeway of life where any passing event can kill you, cripple you for life, or take you on a journey where there is no safe return. At that age, I believe that one person’s influence can make a lifetime of difference.
I was fortunate, I merely lacked self-esteem, but kids today in high school suffer from adult afflictions like depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol addiction, and have learned to cope with disturbing acts of self-harm. These realities really hit home when I met Tasha Belix, a Registered Psychologist who over two decades has been counseling young people with adult challenges.
Tasha’s a mother of three girls, but her experience applies equally to boys. Our chat with Tasha was very candid. This is just a sampling of places we went in conversation:
“In supporting young people, in lots to cases I’m working with people who are really struggling, and I mean struggling in life, struggling with who they are, struggling with family issues and not really feeling happy in this world.”
“It’s really hard for girls to stop comparing yourself to the person on the magazine cover. Even if they know it’s been airbrushed and boobs have been augmented it’s really hard for young girls to really get their heads around that. At age 13, over 60% of girls find their self-esteem start to plummet and they start cut themselves out of activities because of the way their body looks.”
“The shortening of adolescence is a piece that scares me because it’s missing some really important pieces. Adolescence is all about discovering who am I. If we go from being the goofy little girl to sexy girl overnight there’s no way to have figured out who they are. There is zero time for self-discovery.”
“With kids, you want to figure out their love language. It might be really uncomfortable for parents at first but stumble through it because you’re doing it for someone you love.”
“I used to go into the remand centre to teach a parenting course to incarcerated women and I would ask these women what they needed from their parents that they didn’t get, and 100% would say I didn’t need a friend, I didn’t need someone to smoke dope with me, or drink beer with me, I actually needed my mom to tell me it’s bedtime because I had school the next day.”
“With kids, regardless of what family they grow up in, if they have a relationship with one mentor in their life who’s positive, they’ll actually do okay. They only need one person to look up to. Even if it’s not within the home, if they get it at school, from church, or the community center, they’re going to do okay.”
I couldn’t agree more. Thanks, Mr. Horvath, wherever you are today.
To hear our insightful conversation with Tasha Belix visit our landing page or podcast page. We believe it’s an important message for girls, boys, parents, guardians, grandparents, mentors, coaches or anyone with influence in making a positive difference in a child’s a life.