One of my granddaughters got in the car after the half-day of school. I asked how the morning had gone.
“We had the puberty lesson, today.” She lifted a plastic bag containing the “kit” she received for me to see. It was a bit scary but exciting too.
She stands on the threshold of a new chapter in life. Not in the experience yet–but knowing about the experience. A page has turned in its time. Turning the pages from youth to adulthood can be hard to get right. Turn too fast or turn the wrong way, and you can rip a page. You can get hurt.
To everything there is a season.
It’s a great irony of our times that teenage sexual activity and drug use are down. But opioid overdose deaths have quadrupled since 1999.
Some children are learning the lessons of life well. Others sit through the same lessons but make different choices. Sometimes those choices echo through the rest of their lives.
Three factors in opioid addiction are child trauma, mental illness, and unemployment–factors no child can control. There are wounds of the spirit that drain people’s hope. And when they lose hope, they seek a salve. A coping mechanism. If they can’t fix a situation, maybe they can escape from it–at least for a time.
Yet some people suffer tremendously and manage not to land in a pitfall of drugs or unhealthy sexual relationships.
And there’s a connection between the two. Teens who engage in sex are more likely to use drugs. Some of them become addicts.
Studies show that addiction is partly genetic. But for identical twins–two people with the same genes–one may be an addict but the other is not. The other half of the equation is how people deal with stress.
Kids learn to cope by watching us cope. Do we face troubles head on or look for an escape mechanism? How we respond teaches them how to respond.
Kids also learn to cope by having to cope. But they learn best when coping with age-appropriate situations.
It’s up to us to provide opportunities. Great books, music lessons, and sports give kids challenges that, if handled correctly with involved adults, teach coping skills.
And those who’ve faced trauma need someone to walk with them–to help them make the right choices.
What is the hope for our kids?
Pray and pray hard.
Be there. Provide opportunities. Be the safe haven when they hurt.
And congratulate them when a page turns the right way.
The page of a new day in the rest of their lives.
Photo Credit: Pixabay
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