Signs of Teen Depression: An Expanded Study
The social realm we call the teenage years can be fulfilling to the outgoing, but can be very killing to some who are introvert or with low self-esteem. Deep emotional need is a predator to our youth, and once cut out of the herd withdrawn in low self esteem, this predator can be deadly. To better see the signs of teenage depression in our youth, it is all important to have our relationships to them at their strongest. ‘Why is that?’ you may ask. The two reasons are simple but very important.
Reason One: All teens live in a socially dependent world, far more so than us adults. The herding instinct they are in, the need for peer approval and the need for finding their place amongst their own is very strong. This translates into needing to be liked by their peers. This need strongly alters their behaviors.
Reason Two: Teens and youth in general are not able to put into words the deep things they feel as skillfully as us adults, and they will see their own emotional imbalances or needs as a fault, which brings them shame for having them. The bottom line is this: what these two things mean are those teenagers who we suspect have the most emotional needs will work the hardest to try and hide it, That being the case means we are going to have to not only play detective, using our gut feeling in what behaviors are right for a certain teenager, but we also must have as close a relationship with them as possible, so that they will more openly confide in us.
Signs of Teenage Depression: Start With A Relationship
This is why we address first some basics first on how to be a good leader or parent. Remember the reason for their emotional need such as social fears, low self esteem or depression may have at its roots mistreatment by an adult or a missing parent in their life. Their trust of us because we are an adult (or trust of life in general) may not be as strong as it needs to be.
Signs of Teenage Depression: Teens first, Christian second!
The most important thing of all is this: Whether they are new born-again believers with a zeal for their new found faith, or they are seasoned believers in faith since their early youth, it does not matter. Working with Christian teenagers means remembering that they are teens first, then they are Christians second, and that order will not reverse! Hormones, short term values, and peer pressure, and the biological ‘herding instinct’ that plagues us all in our youth is currently plaguing them.
What our Christian Faith does is give us the strength to be good parents. We must be patient and long-suffering towards them, and most of all forgiving.
Signs of Teenage Depression: Christian Teenagers and Their Walk
A Godly walk is something that will get stronger the longer we walk in our faith. Life cannot endow young adults with the wisdom of us older adults no matter how great a kid they are, and no matter how hard they try to follow in their faith. That level of wisdom is just is not in them. They have not been on this earth long enough to see all the ways of life, God’s ways or otherwise. Remember, we can teach knowledge, but we cannot teach wisdom.
What they are in tune with are the terms ‘here,’ ‘now,’ ‘me and my friends,’ and ‘why can’t I have this?’ and other such present tense terms. Forget about trying to explain the concept of money or scarcity, which just is not going to happen!
Signs of Teenage Depression: Go By Your Gut Feeling in Any Situation with Them
We can tell if something does not feel right in a young person’s life. Intuition does not lie. We psychically can sense emotional disturbance in others. With practice we can develop an approach to young adults that is not threatening or pushy. There is a correct way for each personality type to relate to teenagers which only experience can teach. There is a correct way which you will learn for yourself in how to sense, put your finger on, and approach any needful teenager.
The suggested remedies shared here will not have that much to do with specifics, such as ‘you should not let them date before age 16.’ The reason is because if we get too much into specifics, they will not apply to all teens, for young people mature at different rates and at different ages, so to set a general standard is not specific enough in every case. You know your youth group better than anyone does, and you know what will work with their growth timetable and what will not. For that reason we are going to focus more on the application of character, since that is what they readily relate to and they will notice above all else.
Signs of Teenage Depression: Christian Teenagers and Consistency
The first principle to apply is consistency. Whatever standard we may set for our home, and their activities, be sure we are consistent. Be sure if we set a rule or standard, that we apply it to all the children in our home, as well as our self. We must include our self in our rules, for them to see the reason for living up to that standard. It is a short step in their minds to justify the breaking of a rule by disobedience if they see that mom or dad break it for themselves under certain conditions. That is all the reason they need to see life on their terms and to ignore ours. Our parents admonished us to ‘do as we tell you to do, do not do as we do.’ That of course was an example of the gravest of stupidity!
Signs of Teenage Depression: Christian Teenagers and Character
The next principle to apply is character. This application not only has to do with what we would allow or not allow our teenager to do in their lives. It has to do with what we do with our life. This is not just to do with our allegiance to our church and to our circle of friends there, but has to do with how we respect all others in our community. How we conduct our personal affairs with other adults, how we conduct our self with our employer in the discharge of our duties, and most importantly, how we live up to the obligations to other adults in our relationships.
Signs of Teenage Depression: Christian Teenagers and Imitation
We would think that, how adults regard other adults in their relationships would be the last thing our teen would notice, that is not true. Unbelievably, that is the most noticeable thing our teen will ever see about us. All young adults instinctively key in on how we perceive and treat others in our neighborhood, work, church, and our community at large. If we take some time to speak with a distressed neighbor about a property matter when we are in a hurry, our teenager will notice. They will notice clearly that we value community highly, and we seek to serve.
Signs of Teenage Depression: Offering Emotional Availability
If we talk politely and with interest about another person’s computer, car, or health problem, our teenager will see. Our young adults will acquire the exact attitude we have for our duties to life. Where this will have positive effect is when we place conditions on their activities, they will see our obedience to the conditions in our life, and respond in kind, for they will learn from us. Teens are keen to imitate sincerity and compassion. They seek ‘emotional availability’ in adults, and a troubled teen will definitely be attracted to us when we master that fine art in our character.
Signs of Teenage Depression: Christian Teenagers and Our Personal Ego
The last concept we will talk about in dealing with Christian teenagers is to leave our ego out of our parenting or supervising. We are to be their teacher, coach, supervisor, or parent. While the bonds of love are strong between you, you are not their best friend. They already have their best friends. You are not here to marry them or create spiritual unification between them and you. It is not your teenager’s responsibility to give you your sense of meaning and fullness in life as an adult. That is your responsibility to find it for yourself.
Signs of Teenage Depression: Christian Teenagers and Rules
We must be cautious if we are one of those teachers, coaches, or church leaders who have the weakness of wanting them to like us, and ‘to be one of the gang.’ Remember, by nature, our teenager will quickly learn the fine art of manipulation to get what he or she wants. All teenagers pick up instantly on two things, first are how you treat other adults, and second are our need of approval from them. They will soon start giving us hints that if we did this or that, we would be the greatest.
They may try the trick of comparing us to a previous parent, or other parents, or church leader to extract their will from us. Do not fall for it. They are not interested in building our popularity with their group; they are interested only in going to the amusement park so they can be with their friends. Teenagers will threaten us with rejection if they think we have a weakness for it, because they do not know how much it hurts. Even in being their parent, we are not immune to that trick.
Signs of Teenage Depression: Christian Teenagers and Letting Them Go
Parenting, coaching, teaching, or being a group leader requires thick skin sometimes. Eventually all teenagers will leave us, and not always will they say thanks. The only satisfaction will come from us knowing within our self that we did the best we could do. If we tried to be the best we could be, and were our most sincere self with them, then we will have done a great job. We must know we did a great job from within, for rarely will they be able to tell us that. As parents, coaches, and youth leaders, we do not receive report cards. You are a responsible leader or parent; otherwise, you would not be here.
Signs of Teenage Depression: Lead Christian Teenagers by Doing Things in Your Style
One final point of advice in our working with Christian teenagers is; each parent, coach, and leader is different. No two adults will have the same lessons to teach to the young persons in their charge. What the teenagers in your care have to learn from you is your gift to them. No other adult will have the same gift as you do, and your gift is very special. Your relationship to your teenagers will be different from another adult’s relationship. Do not copycat, be yourself for that is what they want, the real you. By being your authentic self, you are teaching them to be their authentic selves. Remember children and teens sense sincerity, and imitate it. Years later, they will remember you with deepest respect.
God bless you in your walk with Christ and your ministry to your son, daughter, church or neighborhood youth group. If you are not affiliated with any church, but are involved in community and youth work only, remember, non-religious is not necessarily non-godly.
Again, one of the strengths of teens in general is a profound ability to recognize sincerity, capitalize on that! God has sent you into the lives of these young people because you have something to offer them. Be yourself and share yourself unreservedly with them, and they will grow up stronger for it.