Fr. Grzegorz Polok

Spread your wings

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Santrauka: For a few years I have been an academic employee at the University of Economics in Katowice and an academic priest for the community connected with this school. In that time I have had possibilities, either at the university or at academic pastoral groups, to meet students, lecturers or administration workers of ‘my’ academy. Common prayers, dialogues and undertaken activities have let me discover how wonderful those people were with a great personal sensitivity and many layers of goodness in their hearts. At the same time, I noticed that lots of them, students especially, showed sadness, strong fears and deep anxiety associated with very low self-esteem or even with total lack of it. Some of them were brave enough to conquer their fears, shame and break a long-lasting silence and, sometimes for the first time, introduce their family situations to ‘a stranger’. In dramatic utterances made by those young people, often full of pain and tears, I have discovered that their today’s difficulties, fears, lack of self-confidence and resorting to loneliness have roots in their families and their parents’ attitude towards them. I could not be indifferent to that ‘sea of suffering’ and began to look for methods to assist ‘my’ hurt scholars. I took care of intensive education in this field on my own. I did realise that a lot of so-called dysfunctional Polish families do not provide for basic functions and tasks appropriate for their children. I became aware that this causes negative effects in adulthood to children who are from such families. The literature on this subject describes such people as adult children of dysfunctional families (ACoDF). My further education, along with long retreat conversations with academic youth coming from families with alcoholic problems, let me discover that there is a huge group of people described as adult children of alcoholics (ACA). Those people, in a particular way, experienced dysfunction of their families on the grounds of a parent or both parents’ overusing alcohol or being addicted to it. I was able to notice that students who experienced a large dysfunction in their families, which was not connected with an alcoholic problem but with a parent’s mental illness, for example, or his/her death, or emotional or legal divorce, violence or permanent emotional or physical absence, felt similar as their peers from families with alcoholic problems. The knowledge I obtained emboldened me to organise a year therapy for ACoDF and ACA students in chaplaincy ‘Zawodzie’ in Katowice in 2001. Annual therapeutic activities are still organised, and it is an honour for me to take spiritual care of therapeutic groups. 8 A possibility to meet so many wonderful young people – adult children from dysfunctional families – and watch their everyday efforts intensified my talks about them within the academic community. During the course of those talks, a low awareness of the academic community was apparent regarding students and workers, and adult children from dysfunctional families. I decided, therefore, to inform the academic community widely about this problem in a clear and concise way. I demonstrate possible solutions to help those in need and suggest ways to counteract all dysfunctions of the family. Encouraged by my students and friends, I took up a challenge to write this book together with them. I am aware I am not a specialist in the field covered by this book, but I have had courage to take this task on because of all the adult children of dysfunctional families who placed confidence in me and supported me in my life. Thanks must be paid to all who undertook the task over my book pro publico bono, particularly its advisor Prof. Ewa Syrek, PhD. at the Pedagogy and Psychology Department of the Silesian University in Katowice. I hope it will be a support to those who would like to read it and that it will bring them a glimmer of hope. Fr. Grzegorz Polok







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