Erin Stewart: Teens need to know they are enough just the way they are

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Erin Stewart shares and she doesn’t think there is a simple answer to the teen suicide problem.
She advocates that people need to go to the teens in their circle of influence, wrap their arms around them and make sure they know that right now, just as they are, they have worth.

Everywhere I look lately, teen suicide is in the spotlight. From last year’s news that suicide is now the leading cause of death for teens in Utah to the controversial Netflix show “13 Reasons Why,” the topic of teen suicide keeps surfacing.

Some friends of mine and I recently talked about the growing problem and what is driving the numbers. Recent coverage of the topic points the finger of blame at a variety of sources — the culture of perfection in Utah, lax gun control, strict religious worthiness standards and even the altitude.

The problem is changing an institution or an entire culture takes time, and our children are suffering now. While we should definitely address long-term change, we need solutions now that we can implement in our homes.

From talking to friends who have dealt firsthand with teen suicide, here is the most pervasive theme to emerge: Teens need to feel like they are enough. Right now. Just the way they are — flaws and all.

In our homes (and in our church lessons), we need to stop tying worth to virginity or sexual orientation or GPA. We have to stop giving lessons in youth groups that glorify perfection while pretending to be perfect ourselves. We are not perfect. No one is. But we still deserve love. We are still of value to God and to society.

This is the message we need to deliver to our children: You have worth. Not because you are perfect, but because you are you.

We need to stop looking for ways to fix our kids and start searching ourselves for ways to accept…

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