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  Understanding Our Youth: Esteem Issues Monday, June 24th, 2024  
by Robert J. Young

A great need today is for increased understanding between youth and adults. Growth in this vital area will strengthen our physical families and our spiritual family, the church.

A common characteristic of youth today is self-hatred. One out of five suffer from this attitude which primarily manifests itself in three ways. One concern is our youth's perception of personal faults. Youth tend to be self-critical when they do not live up to their own high standards. They often compare themselves to people who excel in areas that appeal to them, and may demand perfection from themselves in an impossible number of areas. These unrealistic goals only accentuate their perception of their shortcomings or failures.

Self-hatred may also arise from lack of self-confidence, a prevalent concept among youth. Young people are often hesitant to speak up or to do things, not because the desire is not there, but because of a deep fear of rejection. There is beneath the surface a nagging feeling that says "I'm really going to blow this one!" or asks "What if I can't do this?" This thinking causes youth to screen out activities where they might fail. Any area seen as a place of potential failure is to be avoided. This may cause youth to seem disinterested and uninvolved.

Finally, many youth have low self-regard or self-esteem. Many assume they are of little or no importance, capable of making little difference or contributing little to any situation. The accompanying result, which is symptomatic, is loneliness. These feelings of unimportance often cause youth to withdraw and refuse the affection they so desperately need.

What is the solution? Parents need to spend more time with their young people talking, sharing, and 'telling their stories.' Mutual sharing with each other must focus in quality time. In beginning steps toward a remedy, it is important to know that in any relationship, quality time comes only after much quantity time. In the church, teachers and other adults can help our youth grow in the vital area of self-love and self-appreciation. ©, 2003, Robert J. Young

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