It’s been pretty emotional around here lately, as the high school just down the road has lost two of its young students over the last two weeks. The death of a teenager is always a tragedy, but what a horrible blow for our community to lose two so close together, and even more heartbreaking that one of them was lost to suicide. Although I did not know either of them personally, I do have several former students who were very close to one or both of them. It’s broken my heart to watch them have to go through the terrible grieving process over a friend while so young.
I’ve been very thankful for my teacher Facebook page recently, which was set up so that I could keep in touch with students. It has proven to be an invaluable tool the past few days as I’ve tried in some small way to offer encouragement and support to these kids while they are hurting. I feel at a loss as to what I can really do to help, but even sending them a message to offer words of support or check in on how they are doing has seemed to be somewhat helpful. I so wish I could do more, though.
This blog post is a plea from me, a teacher who absolutely loves her students and cares so much about them, to please, please, please offer an extra measure of love, encouragement, and support to any teenager in your life right now. Just a simple ‘I’m proud of you’ or ‘You are special’ or ‘You are loved’ will mean more to them than you can imagine. I know that you parents are already doing that, but if you’re not a parent, but do have contact with children or teenagers, please know how far your simple words of support and encouragement will go in a young person’s life. These kids are dealing with so much more than we are aware of and need to know how special, unique, and loved they truly are. Although they may not show it, they are aching for your loving concern and influence in their lives.
I saw this quote on a blog recently and love it:
“Do you remember what it was like to be a teenager? I remember criticism for dress, facial expressions, music choices, friend selection, chores, just everything! Babies and toddlers receive so much positive affirmation, affection, and encouragement, but if often dwindles away by the time the child is a teenager. Remember when your toddler was learning to walk? You probably encouraged them even when they fell down. Try to do that when your teen makes a mistake. Teach them to repair the mistake, encourage them for trying, and let them know you have confidence in them and that you’re there to guide them.”
Jesus, thank you for the young people you’ve placed in our lives. Help us to love them well. Help us to be a source of loving encouragement, support, and positive influence. And as we pour into their precious lives, I thank you that we will be the ones who end up being so greatly blessed.