“Scaredy Cat!” One eleven-year-old calls to another who is hesitating about taking up a dare.
Why do pre-teens do this? They always have. They probably always will.
Youth watch adults and see them handling fear without “being afraid.” They know that overcoming fear is part of overcoming childhood. It is why pre-teens push each other to overcome fear. They all want to be pushed into maturity. They don’t want to be caged in by fear. It is also why Hollywood makes so many shock and horror movies. Fear is a very easy emotion to waken.
Human beings throughout history have had reasons to fear: wild animals, starvation, invasion, plague, torture, drought, or pestilence. Most modern youth never have to deal with those fears.
But fear has not disappeared as a major issue in their lives. In today’s world, the cause of fear has shifted away from real threats to life and limb and toward social fear. Youth are still afraid. They fear failure, rejection, being alone, depression, the future, violence, crime, stress, and the death of a parent.
Christian teens are not exempt from fear. It influences their behavior also. The main reason they don’t share about their faith is that they fear being rejected by their peers and friends.
The antidote to fear is courage. When fear is written on the face of a grandchild sometimes all that is needed is a hug of reassurance. In other situations more than reassurance is needed. Often fear must be faced with courage. A grandpa can inspire his grandchild to become heroic instead. The right prompt, to be in the school play, to start a bible study with friends, or to push through physical limits, can make a huge difference. He can issue the right challenge, “You can do it!” and back success with a reward.
As grandparents, you went through it all a long time ago. You survived. You got stronger. You can help them to do the same. Which of your grandchildren can you help overcome fear?
Grandparenting: do it grandly!
Mike Shaughnessy is the Executive Director of Grandly and the Editor of the Kairos Youth Culture Newsletter.
Copyright © 2017 Grandly – The Strategic Grandparents Club.