Wednesday, April 26, 2006

UUs make another well-known advice column

This HAS to be about OWL.

The nice thing about it is that it's a real problem. People's problems with OWL and such are most often irrational, such as people who pointlessly worry that the parents have no idea what's going on in the sex or drug education classes. (The churches that teach OWL seem to do tons of meetings with OWL parents and such. They are absolutely as informed as they care to be.)

I am certain that this boundary issues problem exists if only because my own church is so very careful to look for it. Both my application to be a YRUU leader and in my recent "how's it going" interview had questions about how active I was in the church outside of YRUU (fellowship dinner aside, not as much as I should be, but YRUU is a huge time suck) and how many friends I had outside the church (more than I have time to visit or hang out with.) This was all to make sure the high school kids weren't my only friends, which presumably leads to poor leadership and confiding weird stuff in the kids.

I was a little bit insulted by the question, (Adults who befriend mostly high school kids are not reasonable people. I should know, I dated several of them when I was a high school kid myself,) but it wasn't unreasonable to have been asked. I passed, of course, if anything, I don't feel bonded enough to the YRUUers because I haven't given it the time commitment I should. But suffice to say, these boundaries are an important thing to the people administering YRUU in my church and something every church should keep in mind.



Anonymous said...

It would be a shame if one teacher with boundary problems ruins the whole thing for others.
I hate those sites that don't let you get back where you came from by clicking "back". Why do they do that?

fausto said...

Yeah, it's probably OWL, but given the number of their respective congregations, it's at least as likely to be UCC as UU. Can't you see it happening just as easily among a bunch of repressed Calvinists?

(No, I'm not referring to you, PeaceBang. You may be turning Calvinist, but you're irrepressible.)

Steve Caldwell said...


This sort of boundary issue is covered with OWL training at all age and grade levels.

The level of facilitator sharing described in the advice column is inappropriate for an OWL class at any age or grade level (even Adult OWL).

Here's the guidelines for answering personal questions that we provide to OWL 7-9 and OWL 10-12 faciltators during their training:

1. Feel free not to answer personal questions. You and the participants have the right to privacy. Refer to your established ground rules or group contract.

2. Never discuss your own sexual behavior.

3. Use your judgment to answer harmless personal questions. Remember, sharing about yourself should always be done for a reason—to model appropriate sharing, to build group cohesion, to demonstrate empathy. It should not be done to meet your own needs.

The questions that one needs to ask himself or herself about any sort of personal sharing as an OWL faciltator are "why am I sharing? and "whose needs are being met by the sharing -- my needs or the group's needs?"

Thanks for mentioning this advice column -- I'll forward it to the UUA's OWL-related email lists today.

PeaceBang said...

I couldn't read the rest of the article but geez, I hope the uncomfortable writer of the letter talks to the minister about it. Yikes, how yucky.

(PeaceBang, sitting irrepresibly at her computer in her big buckle Pilgrim's hat)