How Youths Can Find Help
In an ideal world, all parents would provide consistent and loving guidance and training for their children. They would talk to them, read to them, eat with them, understand them. However, parents are not perfect. The Bible rightly states: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”—Romans 3:23.
If you are a youth, you may feel that your homelife is less than ideal—and you may be right. Nevertheless, there is much you can do to reduce your anxiety and increase your happiness. Note just some of the ways in which applying Bible principles can help you.
Choose Association Over Isolation
“One isolating himself will seek his own selfish longing; against all practical wisdom he will break forth.” (Proverbs 18:1) Some youths feel awkward around people and find it easier to watch TV or play a video game. Others are painfully shy, so they isolate themselves. Elizabeth is a youth who describes herself as being in “a permanent state of shyness.” She says: “My shyness is like a fear. I find it very hard to approach people and talk to them.”
How has Elizabeth dealt with the challenge of shyness? She is one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and as part of her worship, she regularly attends Christian meetings. Elizabeth says: “In spite of my shyness, I make it a goal to speak with one person at each meeting. If I fail, I try not to feel down. Instead, I focus on my achievements. I find that I have really benefited from getting to know others.”
Why not write down the names of two or three people you would like to get to know better? Make it a goal in the following week or so to learn something new about one of them. Then write down one nice thing you could do for each of these people over the coming month, and then do it.—Acts 20:35.
If you lock yourself away from problems and people, you will inevitably become more concerned about yourself than is healthy. On the other hand, the Bible advises us to be “keeping an eye, not in personal interest upon just [our] own matters, but also in personal interest upon those of the others.” (Philippians 2:4) If you apply that principle when dealing with those in your family and with others around you, you will see your own problems in perspective and be better able to handle them.
Flee From Sexual Immorality
“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18, New International Version) How can you avoid being pressured into engaging in immoral sex, when it is so prevalent among other youths?
First, you need to think this subject through before you face pressure or temptation. “The shrewd one considers his steps,” states a wise proverb. (Proverbs 14:15) Mbali, a young woman who lives in South Africa, says: “In high school, I was persistently asked out by a young man in my class. The girls in class pressured me to date him because he was so good-looking—he was a model and played on the school soccer team. I thought he was attractive, but I had already decided not to compromise my moral standards. My peers felt that casual sex was no big deal. But I knew right from wrong and made up my mind as to what I would do long before I faced this type of situation.”
Second, pray for God’s help in sticking to his moral standards. Maggie, a youth who lives in England, says: “Prayer helps me to have the strength I need when dealing with pressure to engage in sex. I never think that I can handle the situation on my own. I also talk to my parents about the matter and sometimes discuss the problem with other mature friends.”
Develop Fellow Feeling for Your Parents
“All of you be like-minded, showing fellow feeling, having brotherly affection, tenderly compassionate.” (1 Peter 3:8) You can’t control whether your parents separate or not, nor can you control whether both must work full-time. But to some extent you can control whether you allow such challenges to destroy your relationship with them. One way you can reduce your anxiety and increase your happiness is by developing compassion for your parents by trying to understand the challenges they face.
A youth named Amber has applied this counsel. She admits that her relationship with her mother is sometimes filled with stress, misunderstandings, and frustration. Nevertheless, she says: “My mom has been through so much in her life. She has raised us four children on her own. She has always given us a roof over our heads, food on the table, and clothes to wear. I really admire her strength, and I hope to show the same determination when I’m faced with hardship.”
If you endeavor to put yourself in your parents’ shoes and to feel the emotions they feel, it can help you to keep your problems in perspective. Doing so may also help you to recognize and imitate your parents’ good qualities.
A Source of Reliable Advice
The suggestions above are just a sample of the practical wisdom found in God’s Word, the Bible. As you learn more about this book, you will appreciate what reliable advice it provides.*
One way you can learn more about the Bible is by associating with Jehovah’s Witnesses and studying it with them. Among these people you will find true friends who will support you through difficult times and help you to apply the Bible’s wise counsel in your life. Living by Bible standards is certainly not easy. But if you choose this course of life, you will lastingly benefit yourself.—Isaiah 48:17, 18.
The book Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work, Volume 2, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses, is an excellent source of Bible-based advice on how youths can deal with the pressures they face. Similar information is also published on the Internet at the Web site www.watchtower.org/ype.
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What Teens Need From Parents
Shared Time: Jehovah God told parents in Israel that they should speak with their children often—“when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road.” (Deuteronomy 6:6, 7) This requires that parents spend time with their children. Jesus evidently felt that children were deserving of his time. For example, when “people began bringing him young children for him to touch these,” what was Jesus’ reaction? “He took the children into his arms and began blessing them.” (Mark 10:13, 16) What a fine example for parents!
Honest, Open Communication: The Bible says: “There is a frustrating of plans where there is no confidential talk.” (Proverbs 15:22) Confidential talk with your children was necessary when they were younger. It is especially vital during the teen years, when youths likely spend less time at home and more time with school friends or other companions. If there is no confidential talk—no honest and open communication between children and parents—teenagers can become strangers in the house.
Appropriate Discipline: Discipline carries the thought of correction and training—although punishment may come into the picture. “Anyone foolish disrespects the discipline of his father, but anyone regarding reproof is shrewd,” states Proverbs 15:5. A teenager cannot ‘regard reproof’ if it is not given. Of course, when disciplining teenagers, parents need to be balanced. They should avoid being so strict that they frustrate their offspring, perhaps even damaging their children’s self-confidence. (Colossians 3:21) Yet, parents do not want to be permissive and fail to provide their youngsters with vital training. Permissiveness can be disastrous.*
For more information see chapters 5 and 6 of the book The Secret of Family Happiness, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.