Anxiety, across the board, is up amongst teenagers, we’ve all heard. How does it manifest itself? Tim Elmore had a fascinating take on it in his book, Generation Z Unfiltered: Facing Nine Hidden Challenges of the Most Anxious Population.
But here is a hypothetical scenario he laid out in the first chapter of his book:
1) American Adults’ top emotion regarding kids today is concern
A 2018 study showed that American adults most common narrative regarding kids is worry or concern. And let’s be honest, doesn’t our fear tend to then govern our words or actions toward our children? So then here’s what happens…
2) When adults are fearful, we tend to try to seize control of our kids’ lives
Phase 2 then is we as parents take our fears and tend to become more prescriptive and more controlling with our children. Parents, coaches and teachers all prescribe the steps students must take to succeed, and more importantly, to avoid failure. We feel the best way to make sure it all happens is to monitor it ourselves…
3) When we become controlling, kids feel out of control of their futures
The natural third phase in this sequence is that when we take over their lives and control their inputs and outcomes, they like it at first, feeling a safety net. But I believe most middle-class kids assume that if they fail or fall, some adult will probably swoop in and save them…
4) When teens feel this way, they assume an external locus of control
Dr. Julian Rotter introduced this term to us over 60 years ago. We either tend to believe our success is up to us (internal locus) or it is up to someone or something else (external locus). He can begin to blame others when things go from and he or she feels entitled to benefits from others because he or she has come to expect them. Someone must do the work for him.
5) When they experience an external locus of control, anxiety goes up
Studies show that when a person assumes an external locus of control, he becomes more stressed, more anxious, even depressed. Anytime someone else is in charge of our welfare-even if they’re a good person-we can get anxious, especially when we are capable of caring for ourselves.
Here’s the truth, the last 2 years, we’ve been told that we aren’t in control, someone else has to make those decisions for us.
And while I’m definitely not here to give commentary on the health or safety matters at hand, that might explain why anxiety is so high. Because we feel out of control. Your teenager included.
Add to that mix, your teen entering into a small group in an unfamiliar environment, they may feel completely out of control.
You don’t push church or small group involvement because you don’t want to add one more stressor to their lives.
As a parent, we want you to know we at Parkview have YOUR best interest in mind. And we want you to be the hero of the story, we don’t want the church to be the winner in any of this.
But at the end of the day, we want you, your teenager and your family to be healthy and experience the love and grace of God.
We believe that happens best in the context of a safe community of other believers who are challenging your teenager, talking to them about Jesus, and giving them tools to grow deeper in their walk with Him.
Is your student willing to take the plunge into a small group this week? We’d welcome them with open arms!