22 Jan, 2020 Save a Teen’s Life During National Mentoring Month
Whether you have children of your own or not, find a teen who is not your child and stand with them. You can save a teen’s life. Be a Christian mentor. Standing alongside a teenager can provide them with a much-needed positive adult relationship to help them discover their inner potential.
January is National Mentoring Month and a time to remember that adults impact the lives of young people every day. Becoming a child or teen’s mentor is an influential role that complements parenting. Mentors model positive behaviors and guide a child through a relationship built on trust and respect. While the term mentor is often associated with jobs and careers, teens benefit from positive adult relationships no matter what the context.
Teens Need Adults
In 2011, Chap Clark wrote a book about teenagers called “Hurt 2.0: Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers.” In that book, he described the level of isolation and pressure felt by teenagers and it’s only worsened over time. There are, however, accessible solutions to these issues.
- refocused, nurturing organizations and programs
- stable and secure loving presence
- authentic, intimate relationships with adults
Clark wrote about his observations almost 10 years ago and in a 2016 video, he talks about the societal changes that impact teens now. The data consistently shows the rise of screen time and social media use correlates with higher rates of mental health issues in teens. This screams for a change in how we do relationships.
Clark describes two problems. The younger generation has difficulty engaging in deep conversations about issues. They also have trouble engaging in interpersonal relationships on a deeper level. Positive adult role models not only act as a sounding board for teens to learn these skills but also help them develop their identity. Even more important, positive, Christian adult relationships help them become strong in their faith identity.
Enter the Mentor
While teens benefit from loving, secure relationships with parents, they benefit even more when they have solid relationships with other adults in their lives as well.
One of our Counter Culture Mom teens credits her youth leaders, therapist, and a cousin as mentors who saved a teen’s life.
“These people have impacted my life so much and, in many ways, they have saved my life. They were there for me in my hardest times when I was really depressed and having suicidal thoughts. Plus, they have always been there when I am going through family issues. Now any time I’m going through hard times I can either text or call any of them.”
My experience as a therapist and as a teenager a long time ago taught me that teens will not talk with their parents about everything. While strong parent relationships are needed, teens also need adults they respect who can talk to them differently, not as a parent, but as a guide. Like Yoda.
Save a Teen’s Life
Clark’s research noted that the teens who presented as most confident and successful had 5 adults in their lives. Those 5 adults included teachers, coaches, extended family members, pastors, and adult friends to whom they could turn to for advice and guidance.
It is not the mentor’s job to tell teens who or how they should be. A mentor serves as a positive example of a Christian man or woman. The mentor’s job is to show them how to navigate the crises of life in this world with a firm faith foundation.
Counter Culture Mom Weighs In
If we had more mentors helping the next generation, I truly believe we would see the suicide rate, cutting, and depression significantly decrease in America. If we each reached out to one teen, we’d have a major positive impact on a hurting, desperate culture.