The Root of Our Teens’ Stress


imagesNot just because finals are looming.  It’s the end of the semester so they probably are a little stressed – or maybe should be!  But, the stress I’m talking about is more pervasive than this season’s busyness – both for teens and adults. The stress I’m talking about is a constant pressure hanging like thick dark clouds.



I really didn’t get how dibilitating stress had become, even though we talk very openly.

She is in tough classes, beginning to think about college and balancing many responsibilities and activities. To that end – just like with finals – some stress is to be expected. But in a concerted effort to not be controlling or a helicopter mom, I generally let her manage her own schedule and assignments. All I ask is that she be responsible and do her best. If that means a “B” or “C” instead of an “A” so be it.  So when I recently began to absorb the amount of stress she felt, I was confused as to the primary source.

What I discovered goes deeper than school and schedules.  

What I discovered as the root of the stress is the enormous pressure to measure up! A pressure put on herself, but coming at her from every direction.

There is little room in our culture to not be the best. Whether we as parents place that expectation on them or not, it is what our world says is necessary and important. Therefore, our kids are constantly bombarded with these messages:

  • You need to be in AP classes.
  • You need to have a high GPA.
  • You need to score well on the ACT.
  • You need to excel in your sport.
  • You need to be involved in every student organization possible.
  • You need to always be building your resume.
  • You need to show up at every extra-curricular event.
  • You need to be skinny and toned.
  • You need to dress in name-brand clothing, everyday.
  • You need to be popular.
  • You need to constantly have a witty SnapChat story.
  • You need to be retweeted and “liked.”

The list goes on and where they don’t measure up feels like failure.

Determining how they stack up against their “frenemies” comes with constant comparison scanning. But no matter how great they are, what they find is never enough – in their mind, someone else always looks better, is doing more and doing better at it.

So the stress mounts and the treadmill never stops. 

As parents we think as long as they haven’t fallen off this treadmill of go-go-go/do-do-do they are managing well, not realizing how desperately they may need the “stop” button pushed. And in many cases, we not only aren’t hitting “stop,” but are actually increasing the speed with our own expectations.

Either way, there is need for deeper, more frequent probing conversations with our kids. Conversations that go beyond my own typical default question of ‘how was your day?’ to more heart-revealing dialogue to help them see what aspect of God’s truth they are failing to believe. 

By this I mean…

  • Do they need to be reminded of their value in Christ? To see an identity built on anything other than being in Him will always disappoint.                       
  • Do they need to hear only His opinion matters? To see how other’s approval is an idol. 
  • Do they need to know His love is not based on anything they do? To see it is all about His perfect obedience and performance, not theirs.
  • Do they need to know Jesus came to free us from the bondage of sin? To see how the fear of looking bad and focusing inward robs them of the joy and freedom we have in Christ.
  • Do they need to take their fears and worries to Him? To see that He is in control.
  • Do they need to rest in His finished work? To see all is by His strength and grace and mercy!

Do we need to see these same things? Are we filled with undue stress, worry and fear because we to are looking to people and other things to give us significance?Unknown

If this is you or your teen, I would love to hear from you. In the meantime, I pray you will find Rest this Advent Season and all year long at the only place true rest can be found – at the foot of the cross! 


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1 thought on “The Root of Our Teens’ Stress

  1. Pingback: A Worth-while Resolution | house of hatton

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