For angry, anxious kids, help and hope

Categorized as Uncategorized

On various college campuses, they gather. Pro-Hamas, pro-Palestinian, anti-Jewish protestors assemble, raising tents, raising Cain, and causing trouble. At Columbia, the young bullies, thugs, and punks have effectively shut down most in-person learning with administrators implementing a hybrid model for the rest of the semester.

According to Roz Rothstein, co-founder and CEO of StandWithUs, a pro-Israel education organization, “Columbia University’s administration has lost complete control over its campus because they have allowed terrorist-aligned mobs to exclude, intimidate, threaten, and physically assault Jewish students.” They are fearful, she said, of walking anywhere on campus and are begging the college to provide safe accommodations so they can study.

Not only are Jewish students at risk in these not-so-peaceful protests, but policemen are, too. When officers responded to requests to disperse protesters at New York University, they were met with violence. (It should be noted that faculty members stood arm in arm to block the plaza for their protesting students and even participated in harassing officers later on.)

What in the name of all that is good and holy is going on? Why are students so angry? And why are so many anxious and depressed?

According to Politico, anxiety and depression levels in young people remain sky high post covid. Lawmakers, care providers, and advocates are growing increasingly alarmed, desperate to find an answer. “There is no way we can treat our way out of this,” Dr. Ashwin Vasan, commissioner of New York City’s health department, said. “A lot of things are being tried, and not all of it will pan out.”

One more time, what is wrong with our kids, and what is the answer?

In this veteran mother’s opinion, the problem is multifactorial. A simple overview of what children need will give us clues as to what is missing and, thus, where the answers lie.

First, our children need connection. As a wise counselor put it, “We are wired for connection.” For this author, that meant playing outside with a happy horde of cousins. It meant finding my friends after church to giggle and exchange secrets. It meant having a busy schedule with the youth group and other teens, overseen by competent adults, finding my way socially in that safe haven.

Unfortunately, my sons have grown up in the age of social media where screens and ear buds have replaced actual conversation. Now, they must rely on electronic shorthand and cartoon emojis to convey emotions and ideas and where one’s tone of voice and facial expressions are missing. Electronics have brought separation in many ways, and our kids are lonely. They are dying for true connection, which can best be found face to face, voice to voice, eye to eye.

Polished Instagram accounts and snappy reels of others’ lives have fostered an epidemic of comparison. Who can measure up to this filtered reality? How many followers are enough? What does it mean about us when the numbers go down?

One of my sons struggled deeply with this. At times, it became necessary for him to step away, and I applauded that decision. It only fed his anxiety, and it caused his self-worth to tank. As he learned, when self-worth rises and falls on clicks and likes, we have become the children of Hamelin following the Pied Piper to destruction. In many ways, social media is hurting our kids.

Secondly, our children need to be loved and guided, not worshipped. In recent years, we have witnessed a swing to a kid-centric family model. In too many homes, parents have made their children little-g gods. Idolatry is a weight too heavy for anyone to bear; misery is its inevitable end. As we are witnessing right now, when things are out of order, there will be disorder.

Young children aren’t meant to rule the world. They must first learn how to live in it under our careful supervision. They need to be taught to be others-centered, to learn the joy of helping their fellowman. Contributing to the family, their friends, and their communities builds self-esteem while fostering connection and relationship with others. As they learn to live outside themselves, they experience fulfillment and joy. All of these are antidotes to anxiety and depression.

The third and greatest need of children everywhere is a moral framework that is founded on faith in God. Remove God, and you remove truth. Remove truth, and you remove the guard rails that keep us from destruction. Remove truth, and you have no real love, for the love that never fails must stand firmly on truth.

Within this framework, my children flourished. Though we were imperfect parents, we did our best to teach them about God. We sought to establish healthy boundaries, and it made them feel safe and secure. They knew innately that they needed safe adults to be in charge, even as they tested those boundaries. And always, we worked on our relationships with them, with each other, and with the God we all love.

By pursuing healthy, loving relationships from a solid foundation of truth and love, we can guide our children into adulthood. What a blessing to raise mature, giving, selfless adults who just may one day rule the world.

You can hear Rhonda Schrock, America’s small, caffeinated mom, every Saturday morning on 77 WABC. Join her and Bo Snerdley for the Saturday Morning Radio Extravaganza.

1 comment

  1. Maybe Israel can stop killing civilians! Talk about cultures of death and cultures of life. You don’t realize many of your ” takes” harken to a status quo that has been a culture of death for many, many Americans!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *