Family Life, High School Perspective, June 2015

Bridging the Gap

The critical role of communication between teens and families

11149422_388752624630535_7988127740119689027_nby Julia Summers

Often when people hear the word summer, thoughts of sunshine, the beach and freedom enter their mind. High school students can be stereotyped by others who assume that during summer the mind of a teenager revolves entirely around having fun. However, this is not always the case, as thousands of teenagers around the world struggle with anxiety and depression even in this typically happy season.

A few summers ago when I was around thirteen years old, I faced a difficult period in my life. My best friend at the time had moved on to another friend group, and I emerged into a period of extreme loneliness. I faced depression and began to think of all the things that I could have done differently that might have made her stay friends with me. I mentally beat myself down, causing even more pain, and I shut my family out when I needed them most.

Although the majority of that summer was hard, it was also the summer I grew closer to God than I had ever been before. I formed a deep relationship with my youth leader, Rebecca Blair, who helped me to develop an even stronger relationship with the Lord. God was my comfort during that hardship. One verse that stood out to me during that time was Isaiah 41:10. God said, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Not all teenagers lose friends, but nearly everyone goes through something difficult. Katie Clark, a rising senior at The Dunham School, explained how connecting with family during a tough time in life helped steer her in the right direction.

“During my parent’s divorce I grew closer to my mom and my sister, Holly. My sister really helped lead me to God,” she explained. “My faith was tested throughout the divorce, but it forced me to rely on God. My mom and my sister supported me, and we were all there for each other.”

Brooks Jones, a rising sophomore at The Dunham School, also commented on the importance of his family’s support during severe stomach issues in his early childhood. While the illness has since gone away, he said he knows the role that family played was vital.

“I realized how significant that time of my life was,” Jones said. “My family’s support got me through it, and I believe that one of the main roles of your family is to be your support team.”

As the summer season nears, I would advise teenagers who are struggling to talk to their family. Having a connection and relationship with your parents and your siblings is vital. I did not have healthy communication with my family when I was struggling, which only made things harder. Communication is key; learning how to talk to your family is an awesome start to a trusting relationship.

Also, challenge yourself to think about what God has planned for you this summer, and how he can use you. Keep Jeremiah 29:11 in your heart: the Lord said, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”