|Michael Jastremski for openphoto.net CC:Attribution-ShareAlike|
Sometime ago I asked someone if high school students were more busy now. I asked this question because it seemed to me that there were more activities in terms of number but also the schedules were starting earlier and ending later. School were demanding more as extra-curricular activities that were just fun offerings were graded. In addition, I noticed a tendency to feel overwhelmed and unable to cope more quickly than before.
In responding, the person I spoke with noted the expectancy of perfection in everything along with the inability to choose a smaller amount of activities and do those well. It seemed they were not aided in this task by the adults around them.
I’m not sure what you’re noticing, but Chap Clark talks about it in Hurt 2.0. He has witnessed it first hand. He sums up his chapter, “Busyness and Stress” as follows:
At the core, they long for the safety and freedom of childhood and have no clear vision concerning what adulthood will be like. As a result of the abandonment they have faced throughout their lives, most midadolescents carry inside them a powerful defense mechanism that keeps them running as fast and as hard as they can. They know no other way to cope with life. The quicker they move, the less vulnerable they are to ridicule, critique, or even examination. Midadolescents know they must put on a mask of confidence, even arrogance, or they will be chewed up by those who would find them out. May we, the adults who love and care for them not be fooled. They are busy, yes, and stressed, but they want someone to demonstrate in word and action, “You matter to me” (Clark 2011, 140).
Chap Clark is noting the limbo situation of teens who have a desire for the carefree safeguard of the early years without a clear notion of the postadolescent period. Midadolescents have reacted to being let down and left to fend for themselves by constantly being on the more to avoid being an object of derision. This is how they handle life. Caring adults need to go behind the front and show them their significance by what the adults do and say.
This is important. Whatever we see as the cause of the stress, there is not doubt that teenagers are plagued with insecurity and treated too often with a zero tolerance approach. They need unconditional love, the kind we get from God, from the adults in their lives.
- Have you noticed the stress in the teens you serve?
- How are you addressing it?
- How are you letting them know that they have significance that is not performance based?
- How do you share with them their inestimable worth in God’s sight?