Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Adolescents’

2015/01/img_1838.jpg

One of the most common disorders for adolescents, and increasing in numbers affected, is anxiety.

According to Free Dictionary, anxiety is everything from “uneasiness caused by fear … to apprehension or worry accompanied by physical symptoms common in mental illness or following a distressing experience.”

Anxiety is part of being human. At an early age, when a mother or father leave their child with someone else, and the child experiences the anxiety of separation from those parents who represent safety and security for them. This may produce tears, screaming and death-grip holds on mom and dad.

Anxiety commonly also can occur during the stage of night terrors (nightmares), starting school, moving, death of a loved one, divorce of parents, an upcoming test/exam, a trip, a marriage, an illness and on, and on.

Children with anxiety disorders are missing out on school, on friendships, on life experiences, because they are filled and dominated by fears. 

What is it that has caused the increase in anxiety of children, to the point of being diagnosed with a disorder?

Some claim it is violent video games, addictive use of social media, sexualization of children, and/or the breakdown of the family. All of those things can certainly contribute to feelings of anxiety.

Whatever the reason, the problem is before us, as parents, as people who work in schools and churches and places of recreation. 

So, what can we do for someone in our life who has (or may be silently dealing with) anxiety and fear? 

Be kind.

It may seem like an oversimplified response, and kindness does not dissolve fears and anxiety, but it really can help. 

The thing about kindness is that it can let someone know that they have been noticed, that they matter. Kindness can make someone feel good, make them smile. To receive kindness is to receive an unexpected, often unmerited gift. Kindness can give hope to one who may not feel there is any hope. Kindness can provide comfort, consolation.

Kindness is not the cure, but it might be a little remission from the fears that dominate.

 

 

Read Full Post »

20140415-063757.jpg

“And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.”
James 5:15

This year I have spending my work days primarily in a grade eight classroom, but yesterday I had the opportunity to hang out in a grade six class, for the opening of the day and devotions.

There is a huge developmental leap from grade six to grade eight. The best way to describe this development is metamorphosis. Like a furry caterpillar who goes to sleep in a cocoon, then emerges a winged butterfly, a student enters middle school in grade six a child, and emerges at the end of grade eight an adult in process.

This developmental stage both baffles and fills me with wonder.

But yesterday, it was the opening of the morning, the start of the day with devotions and prayer that made me realize how very understated the beauty of the caterpillar is in our world, who longs for the emergence of the butterfly.

The teacher had a section of the board already filled with prayer requests and praises, from previous days.

When she asked if there were any updates on the prayer requests listed on the board, or new ones, hands went up all over the room. The students eagerly, confidently shared their stories of surgeries, of travel of a dog about to have puppies. There was never eyes darting in fear that their request would be made fun of, never a snicker or a giggle from anyone.

Once their stories were told, the teacher began to pray, then paused …

one by one by one

their early adolescent voices raised, their prayers prayed.

The confidence, the faith, with which they lay their requests at the feet of Jesus was awe-inspiring, wonder-filled.

And my prayer request …

that the ‘awakening’ of emerging from their cocoon in the next few years to come, would not steal their faith.

Read Full Post »

One of my favorite parts of working in high school is seeing the metamorphosis that occurs as teens grow and mature in their relationships with their peers.

It can leave a residue on my heart, that, over the years, has changed how I related to students.

There was a girl who was choosing poorly. She had given up on the ‘childish’ things she loved, things like sports, her youth group, books and schoolwork. She was mentally moving to the wrong side of the tracks, and on that wrong side was hanging out at the mall, friends who brought her down, premature dating and exposures to chemical substances.

She was only twelve.

For the next three years she chose the ‘dark side’ and, ironically, that dark side started to gray her appearance. Her make-up became darker, her clothes became darker, tighter and more revealing, her attitude became darker, and her personality became darker.

Her marks slid, her reputation with peers was negative and she was ‘pegged’ a hopeless case. Sadly she was probably pegged that hopeless case a long time prior, as her home situation was a rough one that could make it difficult for her to see and dream of hope for her future.

Then, as school began for yet another year, this young lady ‘looked’ different. The shadows were disappearing, and were being replaced by a brightening, a lightening of her appearance. Her make-up was lighter, her clothes were lighter, looser more modest, her attitude, her personality seemed cheerier, happier, lighter.

That new school year she tried out for a sports team, she walked with a smile, instead of a scowl, and she began to make efforts to connect with a different, a more hope-filled, a more future-minded crowd of peers.

It does not always happen this way, but that different, more future-minded crown of peers, welcomed her in. They accepted her, and invited her to be part of them, to be one of them.

Her life began to show signs of hope.

This story is one that I created from a combination of many stories I see walking the halls of high school every day. It is a story without knowledge of the ending as we do not know where the life of an adolescent or teen might go.

What we do know is that the life of a teen or adolescent is like that of a tight rope walker. They might be headed along on the straight and narrow, but at any time they might lose their balance. The resulting fall call be fast, hard, and with long lasting consequences.

When you see a teen you know, say hello to them, ask about their weekend, their plans for after school. These simple, natural interactions, accompanied by silent prayers for the life, the heart, the soul of that individual, can be the bright spot in an otherwise dark day for a teen. Be intentional in noticing these developing souls as they prepare to emerge from their adolescent cocoon as a moth or a beautiful butterfly.

Read Full Post »

The language of adolescents would seem to be technology. They talk and text and FaceTime and Tweet and game, and then there is social networking!

I had an interaction the other day with my son. I could tell by the way he closed (slammed) the van door, after school, that he was not in a good mood. It took everything within me to not respond … verbally, angrily with his over use of adolescent muscle on my van door. Working in a high school, I know that to respond to anger in a teen, who is angry, is only going to elevate the level of anger. So, I did what I often do … I bit my tongue (it really should be severed in two by this point in my life … come to think of it, maybe this is what is meant when the Bible speaks of the tongue as being a double edged sword … maybe it has less to do with double edged, and more to do with heavy duty steal … but, I digress).

Once we were home, and he and I were alone for a moment, I took a deep breath, and asked (nicely) if he wanted to talk. He said, “no, not now, it was a crummy day.”

So, I let he and his ‘surly’ mood have space (physically and emotionally). The difficulty in giving him space though, is that as a woman, and a mom, one could not get much more inquisitive. All I really wanted to do was to get to the bottom of his bad mood.

Once he had some space (that is spent in his bedroom … his turf), I did what I often do in these circumstances. I knocked at the door, and ‘asked’ if I could enter. I brought a glass of water to him (it is my entrance fee …). Then, I asked if there was anything I could do to help improve his day (I ask because it helps the adolescent feel in control, and chances are he did not feel in control earlier in the day … this is empowering for them).

Sometimes tears start to flow at this point, sometimes a silent shake of the head, sometimes they are already okay, and life has moved on to brighter skies. It is a rare thing that they do not share what their day has held, and where their sorrow originated.

So, he told me his tale of woe … and I listened. The world would not have stopped for his great failure. His iTouch would not have wanted to hear his story. If he Tweeted it, or FB’ed it, or whatever else technology could have offered him it would not have come close to what he wanted, what he needed the most …

What my son, and any other son, or daughter, needs most, is a listening ear, and “I love you,” in response, and a big ‘ol mama hug.

The language of adolescents is NOT technology, the language of adolescents is the same as the language of us all … LOVE!

To be heard, to be loved, to be shown affection and acceptance, despite our behaviors … that is what we all want, what we all need.

The language of love is the language that we, as humans, live for! It is how we are wired, it is how we were created!

And, although I am only sharing one story of parental success in the midst of far too many failures for this one mom, I do believe it is in following with the example of Christ.

God loves us. He loves us not depending on our behaviors, but despite them! He loves us, because he knows that we are worth loving. And if I, whose behaviors are so poor, can be loved by the God of this universe, then I need to ensure that the behaviors of the adolescents in my life, are not keeping me from speaking their language.

Read Full Post »

Way back when I was a girl …

Sometimes it is so difficult to not start a sentence that way in reference to ‘the good ‘ol days.’ We can be so very selective with our memories of days gone by, throwing out the bad and remembering only the good.

When I think back to my childhood, television watching was a big part of our recreational time, as individuals, and as a family. I can remember watching TV shows with my parents, and the conversations that would follow the episode. As I think back, some of the most teachable moments were when a show would end, and Mom or Dad would say, “so, what did you think of that topic?” TV was the catalyst for learning opportunities in the house I grew up in.

“Little House on the Prairie” taught me all about a family that loves each other. Their lives were tough (no dishwasher … yikes), and life did not always go as they would have liked. They had a daughter who was deaf, and they took in a boy who needed a family, and made him fully part of theirs. They dealt with a fire, drought, poverty and Nelie Olsen! The show dealt with real life issues that are not relegated to the Prairie, such as death, poverty, alcoholism, thievery, adultery, illness, and single parenting, just to name a few.

Then there was “The Waltons” who introduced me to another time in history. They also taught me about a family who loves each other. There lives were tough, and life did not always go as they would have liked. They lived in a multi-generational house, had a home business, and almost everyone under the roof was a type A, strong willed personality. The show dealt with real life issues, not relegated to the time of the Depression to WWII in the mountains of Virginia. They dealt with issues such as death, poverty, alcoholism, abuses, a house fire, and single parenting.

The Cosby Show was a favorite in the house I grew up. It was a sitcom that could bring the viewer to tears from laughter as well as from touching scenes. They taught me about a family who loves each other. Although they were a family of means (he, an obstetrician and she, a lawyer), they still lived a life of issues that the typical family could face. They dealt with death, marital stress, teen alcohol use, two income family dynamics, and many child rearing issues.

Happy Days was another of our favorites. The music was so great, and the it had the bonus of dealing with everything from the serious to the absurd (sort of like my blog). The show taught me about a family who loves each other. They were an average middle class family dealing with the average middle class life issues. Issues such as death, marital problems, stealing, heartbreak, and various teen-related issues. It took us back to a day and time when the man brought home and bacon and the woman cooked it up. Don’t think that Marion Cunningham was a spineless woman though, because, although hubby Howard was the head of the family, Marion was definitely the neck that turned that head!

As I pondered the shows I grew up on, I am thankful for the things I learned from them.

I learned that life is not always perfect.
That bad things happen to good people.
That working hard is worth the effort in the long run.
That honesty is the best policy.
That family is important.
That marriage is work, and it is worth it.
That kids have an opinion, and they should be free to voice it.
That there are consequences to all choices and decisions.

I am thankful for the input that I received while sitting in front of the tube … I wonder what messages and input today’s TV viewing adolescents and teens are receiving?

“Summing it all up, friends,
I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on
things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—
the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly;
things to praise, not things to curse.”
Philippians 4:8

Read Full Post »

“I am so fat.”

“I am ugly.”

“I hate my nose (substitute any other body part)”

“I am so flat.”

These are the “truths” that many, if not all teen girls believe about themselves. Most often these “truths” are not truths, but lies that have grown from a near microscopic-sized seed, planted by someone else, who had had no idea how immense the growth would be.

The growth of that seed results in the decay and destruction of the heart and soul of young and developing young woman. As it’s lies take root in the young lady, it pushes aside and alters the intended growth and development of that young lady. She becomes something that she was never intended to become. She increases in insecurity, she decreases in her understanding of her own abilities and value. She looses her own self in the lie.

Sometimes the far-reaching growth of these lies completely envelopes her heart, and changes the path of her life. Sometimes it hides deep within her, and the cracks it creates in her soul make it difficult for her to live with herself, even though the damage done is not seen by the eyes of anyone around her. Sometimes, it’s damaging overgrowth forces her to look for ways to escape who she thinks she is, and she does things to her body that can damage her and change her life forever.

Teen girls are the masters of comparison. They compare themselves with other girls. They compare themselves with celebrities on the covers of magazines. They compare themselves with girls who have a guys hand to hold.

As I walk the halls of the high school where I work, the church I attend, the malls where I shop, and the house where I live, I see the eyes of the girls who believe the lies. In those eyes I see the insecurities that have taken root from the lies that have been believed … hook, line and sinker.

It breaks my heart to see these broken vessels. Not because they are not beautiful, but because their ability to see and know their own beauty, their own abilities, has been suffocated by the lies.

If I could tell a teen girl anything, it would be that they are a one in a million gift. That the package that they contain, that they are, is of more value than any rare jewel. That, as they live their life as the precious gift that they are created to be, they are empowered to unwrap each layer of their gift, to reveal the purpose, and passion and beauty that only comes from within.

I would tell them : “Fear not for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. I have loved you with an everlasting love…I hold you in the palm of my hands. In my sight you are precious…do not be afraid I am with you.” Says the Lord God. (Isaiah 43:1-4)

Read Full Post »

Sealed in Christ

An Outreach of Sixth Seal Ministries

Amazing Tangled Grace

A blog about my spiritual journey in the Lord Jesus Christ.

FisherofMen

Cast The Net To Rescue Those In Need

Following the Son

One man's spiritual journey

Fortnite Fatherhood

A father's digital age journey with his family and his faith

Frijdom

encouraging space to think deeply

His Wings Shadow

Trust ~ Delight ~ Commit ~ Rest

Perfect Chaos

The Blog of Philosopher Steven Colborne

Life- All over the map

A family journey through childhood cancer and around the world

A L!fe Lived

seeking the full life that only Jesus offers

J. A. Allen

Scribbles on Cocktail Napkins

The Mustard Seed Kingdom

A Blog of the Evangelical Anabaptist Partners

Brittany Wheaton

reflections on living intentionality and soulfully in the midst of the grind