As a youth leader at my church, I’m privy to the world of middle school boys. On a weekly basis, I get to hear about their favorite music, current trends, and what’s happening inside their schools.
Because of the trust we’ve developed, the kids also tell me about their fears, concerns and anxieties. One day while we were casually chatting, I asked the boys what were some of the things they worried about. At first they were a bit tentative, but they soon flooded me with various issues that were on their minds.
Of the dozens of things they discussed, these were their top five concerns:
Being accepted by peers
Kids have a strong desire to fit in and will do almost anything to make other kids like them — even to their own detriment. No child wants to be an outcast, so they’re often willing to hang on to even the most destructive of relationships just to have a friend. As parents, we must talk about and model the Golden Rule (treating others the way we want to be treated) and respect at home, so our children can use that as a standard when interacting with their peers.
Disappointing their parents
Although it sometimes feels as if our kids don’t value our opinion of them, nothing could be further from the truth. Teenagers want their parents’ approval and fear disappointing them. They want their parents to be proud of them. They want to hear their parents’ tell them they’ve done a good job. While some days it may be challenging to find something nice to say about our confrontational, rebellious teen, we have to do it – every day. Extend them a little grace and give them some encouraging words. Those kind words may be the only ones they’ve heard that day.
Parents’ getting divorced
When kids hear their parents’ arguing, they get nervous. They’ve seen the devastation caused by divorce in their friends’ lives, and they don’t want to experience it themselves. About half of the boys in my group have divorced parents, and it seems as if more couples are getting divorced each week.
During one of my mentoring sessions, I noticed one the boys with his head on the table. I found it odd because the young man was usually fully engaged in our conversations. Before we left, I pulled him aside and asked what was wrong. He sighed and stared at his shoes. “My parents just got a divorce,” he said.
Kids usually don’t understand why parents are getting a divorce and many times blame themselves. The school guidance counselor or a minister at church are great resources to make this transition easier on their children…Read the rest of the article on Your Teen Magazine.
Join the conversation: What do your kids worry about the most?
photo by Muriel Heard-Collier