Conformity and peer pressure threaten to squeeze the individuality right out of teenag-ers. As they’re confronted with choices and expectations, kids are often terrified to be identified as different. Discouragement and hopelessness can leave teenagers even more vulnerable to unhealthy, unsafe pressures.
In The Religious Life of Young Americans, George Gallup Jr. and Robert Bezilla offer these six things teenagers need when facing challenges and pressures:
1. The belief that life is meaningful and has a purpose. For Christians, the ultimate meaning and purpose are found in a relationship with Jesus.
2. A sense of community. “Radical individualism” leads to loneliness. Kids need deep relationships with positive, supportive role models and peers.
3. To be appreciated and loved. The closer people feel to God, say the authors, the better they feel about themselves. They also have a happier outlook.
4. To be listened to and heard.
5. To feel like one is growing in faith. Young people need support as they pass through various “faith passages.”
6. Practical help in developing a mature faith. By partnering with your church and youth director along with ministries like Young Life, you can guide teenagers into owning their faith.