The Dog Daze of Summer continue. Yea! This week, I’m hosting author, Cynthia Toney here. Cynthia writes for young adults. Her book, 8 Notes to a Nobody, is one of the greats on sale during the Dog Daze Sale at Write Integrity Press. I’m so glad she could share her thoughts here!
Teens: Be Not Afraid
For all their apparent recklessness and disregard for consequences, teenagers harbor many fears.
However, teens typically are fearless of things we adults think they should fear but are afraid of things we think they needn’t or shouldn’t be.
In March of 2013, 445 teenage students completed a survey about fear on StageofLife.com. This group was part of 5,700 (including college students) who visited the site during a national poll and writing contest. The results are worth considering.
• 33.7% of teens are afraid of taking tests.
• 51% of teens are afraid of talking to their parents about personal problems.
• 40% of teens are afraid of peer pressure or not fitting in with people at school.
• 30% of teens are afraid of being bullied or harassed at school or in groups to which they belong.
• 43.6% of teens are afraid of depression or suicide.
• 66% of teens are afraid of the future or life after graduation. (I assume this category includes career, marriage, war, and other more adult concerns.)
• 75.5% of teens are afraid of poor academic performance or not getting good grades.
• 56.4% of teens are afraid of money, such as not having enough to pay for things they want or need.
• 54% of teens are afraid of auditioning or trying-out to be part of something, such as a performing arts production or a sports team.
Parents may be glad to know that school life stresses teens out more than home life—64.7% verses 35.3%.
In an “overcoming fear” essay contest, four themes emerged. Fear of social situations was number one, followed by: interaction with a fear or facing it head-on, patience or giving oneself time to overcome a fear, and facing fears as an essential part of living.
The Pew Research Center provided an equally interesting report about American parents’ concerns for dangers their children might face. Being bullied was number one, at 60%. Struggling with anxiety or depression was second, at 54%. Some were more closely related to teenagers than others, such as getting pregnant or getting a girl pregnant, at 43%. Having problems with drugs or alcohol came in at 41%. The report includes more detailed information regarding these and other results within certain ethnic communities or between males and females.
As parents, grandparents, other family members, and education professionals, it’s up to us to determine the specific fears the teenagers in our particular lives might be coping with—and to address them. Let teenagers know we are open to listening to theirs fears. Then be sure not to dismiss them or diminish their importance to the teens when speaking with them.
At the same time, shouldn’t we (calmly) discuss our own fears for them? But at the same time, help them understand why we fear the things we do. We certainly wouldn’t want to raise their fear levels. More than that, shouldn’t we provide them with tools and examples for coping?
Depending on the fear, perhaps a self-defense class is in order. I’m a Christian who believes that God expects us to protect the beautiful containers he created for our souls!
As a Christian fiction author, I believe authors in particular have an obligation to our teens to write stories that show examples of characters handling fears like theirs—and surviving them, no matter the outcome. I’m speaking not only of YA fiction but the rest as well. Teenagers read adult Christian fiction, too.
Sometimes the best tools for handling fear are right at hand and don’t cost teens (or us) a dime: practice for a variety of social or school situations, confiding in someone who has experienced a fear and overcome it, and prayer and trust in God that no matter what they must deal with today, they still will have a future.
In their bibles, they will find the words ready and waiting to encourage them.
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.
… I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.
Cynthia is the author of the Bird Face series, including 8 Notes to a Nobody and 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status. She writes for preteens and teens because she wants them to know how wonderful, powerful, and lovable God made them. In her spare time when she’s not cooking Cajun or Italian food, Cynthia grows herbs and makes silk accent pillows. If you make her angry, she will throw one at you. A pillow, not an herb. Well, maybe both. She has a passion for rescuing dogs from animal shelters and encourages others to save a life by adopting a shelter pet. She enjoys studying the complex history of the friendly southern U.S. from Georgia to Texas, where she resides with her husband and several canines. Meet her at CynthiaTToney.com