There is a growing number of teenagers who are experiencing mental health problems. Here is one article on the matter. This may, to a degree, be because we are more aware of the issue now. It may also be because youngsters are more willing to talk about these things now. However, I want to present two key issues which are generating increased mental turmoil for youngsters:
1. Seeking Identity.
In previous times we used to have to work out our identity within quite fixed boundaries. Our sex was defined, our sexuality was defined and our virginity was maintained until marriage. So children could grow up with that framework and find their identity therein. There were cases where this caused distress, but this was quite limited. Now all three of these are up for grabs. You have to decide when and with whom you will lose you virginity and you have to pick and choose about your sexuality and sex. It is moral mayhem and it is leaving many casualties in its wake.
2. Social Media.
The whole matter of mental trauma is intensified by the fact that youngsters are living their lives in an online culture. They are not even allowed to explore their identity in their own private space. Everything is now out there on social media and the exploration of identity is done in front of others. So all know whether or not I am having sex, and all know about my struggles in gender defining and sexual orientation.
No wonder our youngsters feel confused. As parents we need to respond wisely to all this. Obviously we create and implement a biblical frame for these things. And we need to help them handle social media. I don’t begin to be able to give definitive advice on the social media issue. But I do know that it is a whole lot easier when a biblical frame for sexuality and identity is in place.