After the young people presented their Team of Life, the parents/siblings met together and considered the following questions (these are based on Michael White’s outsider witness questions, 2007):
- What particular parts of their Team of Life were you drawn to? What stood out? What did you especially like?
- Why were these important to you? What did this show you or tell you about what is important to the young person/s?
- What connections do you make with your own experience as parents? Can you tell us a story about this?
- What positive difference will it make to you to have heard this? Where does this take you to? What have you learned from the young people? What might you do now that you know this?
- As the team runs onto the ground, what would you want to have written on the banner they run through?
- What would you be saying from the stands?
They then offered a collective outsider witness response to the young people. Here is an example:
On the journey together with this Team!
It was ‘very moving’ to hear the presentation of your team sheet. A number of us wanted to cry at least twice!
For one Mum, three words stood out: Hope, Hustle and Teamwork.
This team was a reminder to us of how strong these young people are.
One Mum said that through all the hard work, the tears, the sometimes wanting to give up … these team members have emerged strong and proud. They are a tribute to their families and to everyone who’s had a role in their journey, as well as being a huge tribute to themselves.
Everyone agreed about the feeling of pride in these team members.
It was also really heart-warming to hear how quickly they had come together as a team. These team members all have different stories, but once together, they seem ‘more similar than different’.
Sometimes, someone said, you can lose sight of all the support for a team like this – all the people, present and absent (as well as dogs) who are in the background coaching, encouraging and cheering. This presentation helped to remind us of this. Thank you for the reminder.
We loved that nephews, nieces and sometimes younger sisters and brothers can be among the most significant supporters; in particular that one young sister was named as a strong support. We were surprised and delighted to hear that Mums were acknowledged as often being such an important part of the team – always being on the ball!
We loved that this team acknowledged the range of supporters, including dads and step-parents and even those that were mixed, like school: the ‘reliable enemy’!
This presentation also reminded us of the fact that no matter what you do in life, you can do it. These young people are taking charge. They are acknowledging and validating so much that is important to them. This took some of us a little by surprise. Sometimes we might think they’re not listening, but it was amazing the way they articulated things.
Everyone agreed that these young people have things to teach us.
They seem to have learned to stand up for themselves and they are like coaches for others.
One of our favourite moments in the team’s presentation was the idea that things (and people) aren’t always what they seem, that it is important to go beyond first impressions, and to be determined not to have prejudices. That philosophy seems to reflect a wisdom well beyond the average number of years lived by team members! It was really significant to us to hear this.
The team had mentioned one obstacle: that expectations can sometimes represent a bit of a ‘curved ball’. This group of parents had seen this to be the case, and wanted the team to know that they are on their side in relation to not letting others’ expectations become an obstruction.
One Mum talked of admiring their perseverance. Another spoke of how her daughter had helped her through an illness of her own by challenging her in a supportive way.
These young people also teach us that there’s hope.
There was joy in hearing the team’s reference to ‘being there together’, particularly given that most of the team members hadn’t met one another before this. It was appreciated that while some team members were really keen to be there, others had been not so sure, even a bit reluctant … but it was felt that no-one could have picked this – they came across above all as a real team! This was felt to reflect that all these team members are real ‘troupers’ – they know how to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
The overall impression was that this was a team who showed honesty, courage, and determination … even when it’s sometimes hard to get to first base, these team members never give up on aiming for home runs.
We thought of some of the phrases that we are chanting from the sideline:
Never say never!
Quitting is for Losers
I’m a survivor
And finally, if there was to be a banner for members of this team to run through on their way to the game, we thought it should read: ‘On the journey together with this team!’
Thank you for sharing your Team Sheet with us.
During this process of the parents/siblings responding collectively to the group of young people, there was a tenderness in the room. It became clear that when the parents/siblings had seen and heard themselves represented on the young people’s Team of Life, that this had really been significant to them. In turn, the parents’/siblings’ words of acknowledgement to the young people were treasured. Sometimes the young people did not look directly at the parents while they spoke, but it was clear that everyone was listening intensely.
These collective exchanges enabled an ‘inter-generational honouring’. Young people had earlier acknowledged the contributions of parents and others in their Teams of Life; and now parents/siblings were acknowledging the skills and know-how of young people. There can be many obstacles to such two-way honouring occurring within a family between parents and their own adolescent child, so creating collective possibilities seems significant.