Askable Adult Skill: Being Connected

Illustration of adult and youth sitting together and smiling. Caption says "Askable Adult Skill: Being Connected. Don't give up! Staying connected isn't always easy, but it's essential for youth wellness.

Be someone they can talk to.

Written by guest blogger Linnea Johnson, Education Advocate at WomenSafe

We’ve all been there. You’ve had a busy day at work, you get home and try to relax, and as soon as you sit down your brain immediately starts reminding you of all the things you haven’t done in a while. When was the last time you called your sister? Add an unprecedented global pandemic onto the already buzzing hustle and bustle of daily life, and reaching out to loved ones that you’ve been meaning to for the past (insert ___ days, weeks, months, years) seems almost impossible. 

It’s easier than ever to hit the snooze button on connecting with our loved ones. Connecting is a two way street…usually. When it comes to supporting connectedness with the young people in our lives, adults need to work on being the initiators. 

Illustration of an adult and a youth sitting at a table working on an a project. Caption says "Reliable, consistent communication is key to youth (and adults!) feeling like they are valued. Often adults need to initiate with the young people in our lives." Youth says "You ask for my opinion on things which lets me know you care about what I have to say."

Being connected is an integral part of being an askable adult. This looks like being dependable, safe, and present in young people’s lives, listening for and responding to what they need in the moment. Fostering connection helps youth feel more secure and develop a sense of belonging.

I have been guilty of not reaching out. However, with one important young person in my life, I’ve tried to push back against that urge to put my phone on do not disturb and ignore any and all attempts at human contact. 

During our weekly supervision meeting, I asked our incredible youth partner and intern, Ainsleigh, how she feels about our level of connection. I want her to know she matters to me, so much! There is really only one way to know for sure.

“I feel like I do matter to you because in our relationship, I feel like there is a lot of good communication. You ask for my opinion on things and check in with me which lets me know that you care about what I have to say.” 

With people in my life, whether they are an adult or not, having reliable, consistent communication is key to me feeling like they value me. It turns out, the same goes for Ainsleigh. 

Illustration of an adult comforting a young person who looks sad. Caption says "A telltale sign that a youth sees you as an askable adult is when they feel comfortable asking you for what they need. The level of support you offer should ebb and flow as their needs change."

Something that I think other adults forget is that often what we value in our relationships aligns with what young people are looking for in their relationships, too. I know that I can rely on someone if I feel comfortable asking them for what I need, whether that’s space, extra support, advice, or quality time. One of the telltale signs that a young person sees you as an askable adult is whether or not they feel comfortable asking you for what they need. 

“I feel very good about being able to communicate my needs to you. I think what made that easier for me to do was getting to know you better and realizing that when I ask you for what I need, you are going to be okay with that… This makes me feel more confident in our relationship…I feel like I am able to dictate the level of support that I need from you quite a bit which is helpful for me because I am someone who will be annoyed if the correct level of support is not there…One thing I really like is that the default is that you know I can do things on my own.

In my work with Ainsleigh, I am reminded of the mantra we hold at Womensafe – people are the experts of their own experiences. Teens included. No one knows Ainsleigh better than Ainsleigh. To be an askable adult, the levels of support that I offer Ainsleigh need to ebb and flow based on her needs. 

Image of a smiling adult and youth hugging. Caption says "There are lots of ways to let youth know they matter to us - including just telling them. Adults - let's do this!"

Curious about how you can be more connected with the youth in your life? The Askable Adult Campaign toolkit can help. For more tips on how to stay connected, head to

Don’t give up! 


Original Artwork by Teppi Zuppo @aioazech