I couldn’t be more excited to bring to you episode 178 of Let’s Parent on Purpose. We get to share in the incredible wisdom of author and executive director of Fuller Youth Institute, Kara Powell.
Kara has a treasure trove of research to help us guide our children through the anxious world we’re living in and into faith in Christ that sticks through adulthood.
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Kara Powell, PhD, is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women to Watch,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or co-author of a number of books including Faith in an Anxious World, Growing With, 18 Plus, Growing Young, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Essential Leadership, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum.
The demands to remain agile and adept at responding to what’s going on to our kids and our world poses many challenges to parents today. The fast-changing world certainly keeps parents on our toes.
There is more stress and anxiety in our culture today that affects people across all generations. Kids can experience anxiety for several factors, including:
- Technology – While technology is certainly an essential in navigating today’s world, it also puts pressure on children’s fear of missing out.
- Parenting – Some of our parenting techniques could be putting more stress on our children. We may be putting too much pressure on our kids to succeed quickly. On the other hand, we may also be helicopter parenting, rescuing them from situations before they are able to develop their own grit and resilience.
- Busyness – Today’s busy culture contributes to the increase in stress and anxiety.
Kara shares her five-step process to help adults deal with young people who are experiencing anxiety:
- ASK. First, ask the young person to rate their anxiety or depression on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst.
- BREATHE. Encourage them to take deep breaths. When we panic, our hearts beat faster to get blood to all the extremities. Breathing deeply helps counter act this and put a break pedal on the physiological feeling of stress.
- CENTER. Help them center on a helpful truth or phrase. Find a line from scripture or a worship song that can give them an anchor to hold on to.
- DEVELOP a team. Build a support group of friends, supporters and even mental health professionals that your child can turn to.
- EMPATHIZE and EMPOWER. Listen and understand what they are feeling, and go beyond that be helping them figure out a step forward.
Many young people stray away from their faith in their first three years in college. Foster faith in your children that is “sticky.” A lot of youth group kids end up viewing their faith as “a gospel of sin management.” When they graduate from high school and start making mistakes, they end up running from God and the church just when they need it the most.
As a parent, re-center them in a gospel that is grounded in grace and God’s unconditional love. Remind them that we respond to God out of gratitude, out of a relationship between us and a loving God.
Parenting isn’t a solo sport. It’s a team effort. Be intentional in creating a team of adults to support your child. Whether a family, teacher, coach, or neighbor, find those you can invite to let your child know that there is a team of adults that are looking out for them.