Terry Cross

Lesson 3: The Child in Need

Terry Cross speaks of how his Seneca people view our responsibilities to an abandoned child or a child in need. He says we must help that child whether they are a relative or not. This social responsibility can also be seen as a metaphor with the child being a substitute for us.

All of us feel at times that we are as powerless as a small child. We don’t know why things are the way they are or why we are treated in a certain way or how to solve a big life problem or even know what our future holds. That child within can react as a child with fear or anger unless we offer it shelter and guidance and love.


The child in need is a reality in many Native communities. Social workers that work in Native child welfare say it is a problem to find Native families willing to step in and accept a child as a foster care placement or possible adoption. Why do you think this problem exists when most of our tribal communities teach the same concepts about our responsibility to the child in need?

If we see the metaphor of the abandoned child or child in need as representing the child within us, how would you help the child that is within you?

Can you see that inner child in need in other people in your life? How would you offer aid to them?