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Raising our kids today in the midst of anxiety, depression, bullying and more

I couldn’t sleep on Saturday night. It might have been the mid-afternoon cup of coffee I drank, but I doubt it. It most likely was caused by the book I read right before bed, What Made Maddy Run. Pastor Scott loaned me this

book a few weeks ago, telling the story of an 18 year old girl, named Madison, who was a gifted athlete, straight A student, highly motivated with good friends and who dies by suicide her freshman year of college. In the first pages, Madison’s father is driving her back to college for 2nd semester and contemplating what to do to help his daughter. He knows she is depressed and yet she is functioning. He knows she needs help, but doesn’t know what to do. He knows he doesn’t have any advice to give anymore. Reading his thoughts were enough for me to get anxious as I thought about my own daughters and how to raise them, shape them and help them.

I don’t know that we have ever had the challenges that we now face as parents. I suppose that every generation has thought this before, but digital media changes things and so does the stability of our culture. My mom and dad were the first ones in their families to graduate college. My sister and I both have master’s degrees and now this is the expectation for many of our youth. College is being talked about and pushed at elementary school (for good reason). From an early age there is pressure to succeed, be involved so you don’t limit yourself to any opportunity that you might grasp. It sounds good and right, but is it leading our kids to having too much pressure? Is it causing our kids to have too much anxiety? While we often put our children in music or sports to give them opportunities the question we now need to ask is- is it too much? And then on the flip side- if we don’t put our kids into activities they stay at home and watch tv or play on an electronic devise instead of using their minds to create and play. What’s a parent to do?

I don’t have the answers, I am sorry to confess. In fact sometimes I am sure that I am part of the problem. I wonder are my expectations too high? Am I doing too much for my kids? Am I not doing enough? I can only guess. What I do know is that I care about them. I love them unconditionally and I will do my best to help them grow into adults all the while trying to do what’s best for them. I know that I will fail some days and other days will be better.

The book What Made Maddy Run, is an important book to read, even though it’s difficult. It’s important to know that our kids today are struggling with anxiety and depression because this is a very real truth that we as a community need to face. We should be wrestling with some of these big questions about our culture and what is best for our kids, while also helping them be independent. I think it’s okay for us not to have the answer, as long as we are willing to face the hard facts that there are some things that need to change for our kids to be healthy and whole.

On November 1st, Ewoyn Gatlin- Nyggard will be leading our adult class on Wednesday night from 6:30pm-7:30pm. She will be guiding our discussion as we talk about the pressures facing our youth today, anxiety, depression, bullying and more and how we as parents and as a faith community can support them. I hope you will join us for this evening.

I might lie awake at night some evenings wondering what to do for my kids and worrying about my own actions, but what helps me sleep is knowing that I am not raising them alone. They are connected to God and to other people of faith. They are connected to you. I don’t have to figure this out by myself, instead we have been gifted with one another, to listen, to learn, to support and forgive each other so that we might all experience God’s love and mercy.

Loving God, I pray for our kids and our parents today. Help us make choices that support our children without putting too much pressure on them. Help us to support each other as parents knowing that we are all doing our best. Help us as a community to come together in learning and listening so that our wisdom might be shared. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen

Pastor Joanna

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