With all that’s occurred in the past two years, it’s no wonder that there’s more mental illness, depression and anxiety. The number for young people needing counseling has risen at alarming rates. Those individuals from 15 to 24 years of age, show that suicide ranks as a leading cause of death.
It makes me wonder about the reality of these stats and what can be done to change them. I know from my own reality, that adolescence is one of the toughest stages of life one must endure. Hormones are raging – self-image is in the pits – bullying was happening even in those long ago days.
Conflicts surrounding a teen are immense. They hear and learn something at home which is in direct conflict with what they’re being taught in school. The moral issues, the gender issues, the political influences, the society norms they try to live up to, the peer pressure, the inability to find their path – and the list goes on and on. We oldsters could put the blame on the fall of the family unit or technology. We might say that lack of respect – inappropriate behavior – decline of morality – all the stuff that we were required to do as teens. The fact is each generation is faced with conflict the minute they leave the safety of their own homes. Many don’t have that family base to begin with, with marriages breaking up, blended families, unmarried couples, and again the list goes on.
I’m certainly not going to expound on the psychological reasons for this. I’m not equipped to do that, but I do know some basic things that will set the stage for dealing with raising teenagers. I was one. I birthed three of them and I’ve enjoyed being a grandmother to three. Those events don’t make me an expert, but if they can be of help to young families out there, they might squash some of the depression kids face today.
- From day one, let your child know that you and the rest of your family loves them. It’s a known fact that children who are held securely in the arms of a family member will feel safe and secure. They will also experience the love you’re giving to them.
- As they grow into toddlers, allow them to explore their surroundings, but be nearby to make sure they stay safe. That doesn’t mean you hover over them or overprotect them. Be involved in their learning what is right and wrong. Let them know there are consequences to wrong behavior.
- When they leave the safety of your home, be prepared for lots of questions and be able to answer them. If you don’t know the answer, let them know that. They will soon learn that you aren’t perfect. Don’t look at your children as if they were your buddies. They are your responsibility – a gift given by God for you to care for at least 18 years or more. As a gift, you treat them as that, but they must show you respect, and you must also deserve it.
- Teach your kids that everyone is accountable for their actions. The Golden Rule – treat others as you wish to be treated – try to see their point of view – teach them to find solutions to problems without conflict – show them what teamwork is.
- You don’t have to involve them in every sport, competitions, musical endeavor or the performing arts. You don’t have to overload them with extra-curricular programs that often interfere with a task at hand.
- If you are a believer in God, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, you will find so many references to parenting in the Bible. It is the perfect manual for good parenting.
- In a world that is filled with so much violence, hatred, disobedience, lawbreaking, placing blame on others, we must prepare our kids to face the reality that exists out there and give them the tools they need to be kind, open minded yet accountable, confident, and poised for any situation. That begins in the home and must be nurtured throughout their lives – even when they no longer are in your care.
- Be available – love them – realize you are building strong character in those who will one day rule the world.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:1-4