Parents of teens/those who work with youth, please read! This article: ‘The Most Exhausted Generation’
From 10 years of working with teenagers to now having teenagers of my own, I’ve watched teens get more and more busy with each passing year. I remember when the desire to keep teens active was phrased, “we just need to keep kids off the streets”. The heart behind that notion is GREAT. Teens left with too much idle time, with no responsibility, no organization, and no guidance can lead to all sorts of negative consequences. But over-programming teens, taking away all of their down time, and stressing them out is not good either. I talk to lots of parents who see it. Adults get together and compare notes on how BUSY we are, but nothing seems to change. In fact it seems to get worse. I’m not sure what the whole of the problem is, but I think at least some of it may stem from us as parents feeling pressured to have our kids pursuing LOTS of OPPORTUNITIES or we may be deemed, or at least feel like, a bad parent.
I don’t know what the full solution to teen busyness/stress is, but as a Christian, parent, pastor here’s what I believe…what teens need most is a REAL relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and they need parents to be an example of what it looks like to follow Jesus, and to teach them the Word. (See Deut 6:4-9). They also, in my option, need to know the value of, being committed to and blessed by a community of believers in Christ, a local church. Not just while they’re teens, but for their entire life, until Jesus returns.
Parents teaching kids and making church a priority do take something we are all very short on, TIME…My concern is that as we begin to see our need to cut back on the activity and stress level of our teens that the first thing to be cut out is their spiritual formation. After all, there’s no trophy, scholarship, accolade, or worldly recognition for our grip of the gospel and subsequent pursuit of holiness. So as we recognize our peril of exhausted stressed out “sick” teens, and say “WE’RE TOO BUSY SOMETHING’S GOT TO GO!” We shouldn’t let that “something” be their/our relationship with God. See Matt 11:28-29, as the article pointed out, Jesus is the only TRUE REST.
***I DO think there is something to be said for not over-programming at the church as well. The solution is NOT to carry our busyness to the church building for a sanctified version of our busyness. May be a post for another time****