Fear In Our Youth

I spent last Wednesday with an awesome group of young leaders from our community. The program called Youth Leadership Clarksville is a school year long, once a month look at the community for high school juniors and seniors.  These are top in their class students, usually from good, supportive homes, so one would think this group was self-confident and certain of their future.  I almost expected an arrogance of sorts or an idealistic approach to the years before them.  At some point in the day, however, I asked them to tell me their greatest fear.  Almost unanimously, the group of over thirty young people said fear of failure or fear of making a lifetime mistake is their greatest fear and something they struggle with, especially as they think about leaving high school. 

My son Nate, who went through the leadership program last year, had a recent blog post where he described some of his fears.  Read that post HERE.  (Titled: Reflections with the Fray) 

In reflection, I am honestly asking myself some questions, such as:

1.     What have we as parents and a society done to encourage or promote this type of fear in our youth?  Have we, for example, by giving our children everything they desire in life, kept them from realizing their own potential for success in some way?  Have we not allowed them enough opportunities to experience failure so that now fear of failure is the same as fear of the unknown to them?  

2.     Will these fears haunt our youth into adulthood or is this something they will outgrow? 

3.     Should we try to help youth overcome their fear of failure, so they will be willing to take big risks and dream bigger dreams or is this fear a natural part of their discovery? 

4.     Is this a cultural phenomenon and so do adults share the same fears right now? 

5.     Is the current state of the economy contributing to these fears?

I don’t have answers necessarily, just questions. 

What do you think?  

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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2 thoughts on “Fear In Our Youth

  1. Being a Youth Director at our church now for over 3 years, my wife and I can say this about the teens – most of them that have come through our ministry from the outside (not being brought to church, so to speak) seem to not have the confidence of doing stuff because they have been controlled and/or told what to do, without letting them take responsibility. What we see are teens that take one of two ditches on either side of the road – either they are wild and doing whatever they please not matter what the results or they are in “lock down” so that zero responsibility is even allowed for them to take on.

    The issue seems to be that not many parents take the time to talk to teens about choices and decisions in ALL topics and then help them see the choices that God has given them. When teens WANT these things discussed with them and when the choices are laid out, its amazing how after you let THEM choose they then believe they have a more informed way of making choices and potentially doing the right thing for their lives.

    Until teens are given this ability and the responsibility, they will continue to act like this. And what does that say about the generation that is being raised up?

  2. I am an inter in a youth ministry in AZ. I honestly believe fear of failure comes from the examples of others. I believe a student can be raised in a Christian home with great parents and be so influenced by society that it cause them to fear. We hear of so many people that are failing. Those stories are the ones that get the most publicity. From Britney Spears to Ted Haggard. When students see that “important” people in the world around them are beginning to crumble, they feel the pressure to succeed. They don’t see the road that led someone to failure all they see is the outcome. That why I believe it is crucial to teach students constant relationship with God over all else.

  3. I believe society and parents put this pressure of expectations on kids. It is no longer ok to group do what you love and be happy doing it. The standard of success is a glamorized lifestyle and the thought is that if you do not attain that then you have failed. Kids feel like anything average is failure and so they push themselves. It is very similar to the body image crisis we have. What they see read and hear about is not reality but they are so inundated that it becomes their reality.

    I believe that it will last through adulthood. It will be a cloud over their head as they go through their life. The thought that they could have done better will and perhaps should have done better will haunt them.