Long post but worth reading:
Erica Komisar, A psychologist recently published an article in The Wall Street Journal about how to help children overcome anxiety and depression.
I found it really challenging how she has emphasised the role faith can play in helping our children and probably adults too. Note: anything in [ ] is mine.
“As a therapist,” she began, “I’m often asked to explain why depression and anxiety are so common among children and adolescents. One of the most important explanations—and perhaps the most neglected—is declining interest in religion.” This cultural shift already has proved disastrous for millions of vulnerable young people.
A 2018 study in the American Journal of Epidemiology examined how being raised in a family with religious or spiritual beliefs affects mental health. Harvard researchers had examined religious involvement within a longitudinal data set of approximately 5,000 people, with controls for socio-demographic characteristics and maternal health.
The result? Children or teens who reported attending a religious service at least once per week scored higher on psychological well-being measurements and had lower risks of mental illness. Weekly attendance was associated with higher rates of volunteering, a sense of mission, forgiveness, and lower probabilities of drug use and early sexual initiation. [let’s hold this picture in our heads and reflect on the decline in church attendance in the UK and Ireland over the last 30 years and increase in mental health matters. Let’s also ask ourselves why, on average the church spends just 3% of its total budget on children and youth ministry in the U.K. Or why most youth and children’s workers ended up in furlough for many months during the pandemic?]
She goes on to document that decline and its negative effects on children. “Nihilism [ the rejection of all religious and moral principles, in the belief that life is meaningless.] is fertilizer for anxiety and depression, and being ‘realistic’ is overrated. [wow]
The belief in God—in a protective and guiding figure to rely on when times are tough—is one of the best kinds of support for kids in an increasingly pessimistic world.” But what if parents don’t believe in God? “I am often asked by parents, ‘How do I talk to my child about death if I don’t believe in God or heaven?’ My answer is always the same: ‘Lie.’ The idea that you simply die and turn to dust may work for some adults, but it doesn’t help children.” She goes on to prescribe offering children images of heaven—even if you have to lie!—to counter the bad images all around us in our broken world.
[In an age of broken families, distracted parents, global pandemics, school violence, knife crime, and nightmarish global-warming predictions the church plays a big part in children’s ability to cope.
Now at this point I offer a better solution than lying to your kids or even yourself.
Explore the truth of Jesus Christ.
He’s the rescuer, the one who frees us from guilt, pays for our sins, makes us new, gives us a future, the promise of eternal life and welcome everyone... EVERYONE.. with open arms.
If I can help you on that journey just ask.
I’m convinced the church has a key role in society today and following Jesus Christ is essential to living a full life]