Often parents feel a real disconnect to their adolescent and struggle with understanding the challenges youth are faced with today. Growing up I was given books and paper assignments, cell phones weren’t around and only a select few had pagers to keep in contact, mostly Doctors. As a teen in the early to mid-90’s calling friends on the corded telephone in the common area was how you kept in touch with your friends and if I had a bully, I knew who they were because it was face to face.

Today things have changed, social media has blown up, most information can be accessed with a simple search on the internet, adolescents are often on their phones and believe it is a lifeline to friendships, and homework is primarily done on a computer. This can cause challenges among families and within peer groups of adolescents. Bullying has increased and the ability to remain anonymous has been known to increase anxiety and depression among adolescents. Prior to the boom of the internet and social media most adolescents knew who their bullies were, today it doesn’t always work that way because they can hide behind a screen. This can increase anxiety among youth due to their inability to know who to trust. Youth can present as angry, defiant, and depressed while only offering the famous line, “I’m fine.”

It can be challenging to know how to help youth in today’s world, how to keep communication open with them, and to know when to give them privacy. Raising youth today comes with its own struggles, I can certainly relate to the challenges youth face today having two teenagers myself. Providing them with love, patience, and understanding is important even if it is difficult to remain patient and understanding. Learning to continue to let them feel your love as well as God’s love is paramount even when they have made bad choices.

One scripture that I use often is 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” This verse is comforting to remember in times when we might be quick to anger with our children. Often providing them with a safe and trusting environment where they can discuss their challenges can benefit the entire family. Working as a team and learning skills to communicate needs and feelings to one another can continue to provide the environment youth today can feel loved in.

Lisa Harden MS, LPCA, NCC