Do you often hear the phrase from your teenage son, daughter, niece, nephew or young people in general: “Everything is alright; I am just fine!”. In society, teenagers suffer with numerous problems but are unsure of who to turn to or are unwilling to discuss teenagers problem solving with an adult.
The truth is that teenagers are often willing to suffer in silence. They think that “it will get better” or tell themselves to “just ignore it and keep the mask on”. But in doing so, the problems are pushed aside leading to emotional, psychological and perhaps physical pain. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:13).
This article is intended to identify problems among teenagers, how to respond as Christian parents and to present possible problem solving from a Biblical perspective.
Common teenagers problems
Research shows that many teenagers in Britain struggle with mental health, low self-esteem, child abuse, depression and anxiety to name a few. Depression has increased by 70% over the past 25 years.
1. Low self-esteem
Low self-esteem is where an individual fails to realize their full potential. A teenager who suffers low self-esteem may feel incapable and even incompetent of completing and fulfilling their purpose. However, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
Teenagers face low self-esteem due to experiencing hormonal developments such as body change. Because of this, the very image they have of themselves also changes. If a teenager thinks they are too fat, too skinny, too short, too tall, this is often coupled with them thinking that their peers see them in the same way, thus resulting in low self-esteem. “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well” (Psalm 139:14). Adults must help to solve such problems and reinforce to teenagers that they have been set apart as the brightest, clearest representation of God’s creativity.
Many teenagers and young people suffer from depression which can arise from low self-esteem. Depression can be defined as a serious medical ailment that negatively impacts on how a person feels, the way they act and how they think. A teenager who is depressed may display some of these symptoms: isolating themselves from others, changes in eating habits, fatigue, worthlessness or helplessness. “But You, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory. One who lifts my head high” (Psalm 3:3). Adults however, can reinforce to teenagers the shield and protection of the Lord Jesus Christ is around them.
Depression may cause a teenager to ‘bottle everything up’. As adults, we often allow teenagers to figure out their own solutions to avoid seeing the reality that your teenager is flawed. Teenagers who battle with depression should be allowed to communicate their feelings.It’s one of the problem solving ways. It is the responsibility of the adult to encourage the pursuit of peace and growth in the teenager. (Romans 14:19). Not allowing them to communicate their feelings may cause more serious affects in the long run such as negative marital relationships, adverse relationships within the workplace and relationship breakdowns with other family members.
Why teenagers don’t discuss problems with parents and/or guardian?
Teenagers fail to talk to parents or guardians regarding their problems due to the fear of possible rejection or not been understood. Research shows that teenagers who choose not to talk to their parents or guardians are those who come from loving and caring families, parents who have raised them to know the difference between right and wrong, hardworking parents and those who are great role models. Equally, teenagers experiencing symptoms of depression tend to be young people who are diligent, high flyers, aspiring and goal setters. The fact is teenagers feel that their parents or guardians will be disappointed in them. Therefore, it is far easier for them to say everything is alright.
This auto response – everything is alright – may have in fact been created by the adult themselves. This is because, in early stages of childhood, the child has concluded throughout their growth and development that their parent’s or guardian’s praise, love and esteem was based on achievement and good behavior. This has now had a negative effect on them in their teenage years. But “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The solution is simple: show some love and be a listening ear. Don’t judge or criticize. Equally, adults must show active listening and not interrupt when your teenager wants to express and talk about their depression and/or low self-esteem. “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19). It is therefore necessary for parents, guardians and/or more experienced adults to be slow to speak when faced with their problems, but rather quick to hear.
Helping in teenagers problem solving. Bible verses
Ignoring the problems, a teenager faces means we fail to provide advice. In fact, we allow them to solve their own problems themselves, without the support from an adult. “Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory” (Proverbs 11:14). Victory is achieved by speaking words of affirmation over your teenager as this will help to reduce low self-esteem. For example, ‘My God meets all my needs” (Philippians 4:19); ‘God is my refuge and strength a very present help in all my troubles’ (Psalm 46:1). Help them to think positively about themselves. Give them positive messages to say to counteract their negative thoughts i.e. ‘I am confident in myself, I accept myself as I am, I respect myself and others’.
Being able to identify these problems and recognizing that you have failed to give solutions will enable you to effectively apply these strategies and solutions via the application of biblical Christian principles. Don’t hesitate, talk to your teenagers and you will find problem solving!
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