Handling the Holidays as a Teen

About a year ago I sat down with one of my teens around Christmas and asked him a simple question: “What are you doing for the holidays?” He looked at me and stated “I hate the holidays. It’s awful.” I was surprised by his answer. Usually, when I ask a teen what their favorite holiday is 99.9% of the time it’s Christmas time!  As I dug deeper into his response it became apparent that the holidays represented all that was broken in his life. His parents had divorced and the holidays meant splitting time between the houses. Decorating the tree, eating Christmas meal, it all came to represent the brokenness of his family. It was a large reminder for me that the holidays are not a happy time for the teens I see. In fact, it adds to their depression or anxiety.

Maybe you hear yourself in that story. Maybe the holidays aren’t a time that makes you feel happy but does just the opposite. The holidays can be a ‘’reminder of the things you don’t have: money, a happy family or support in your life.  All these reminders can leave you feeling, down depressed and hopeless.

Know that you are not alone. In fact, this IS the story of Christmas! When we look at the Christmas story in the Bible, and the birth of Jesus, the cast of characters were full of loneliness, fear, and doubt.  

Mary – The first words the Angel said to Mary were “Do not be afraid”. Mary was a scared teenager at the time and was even more stressed when learning what was about to happen.  Imagine the social pressure and shame put on her for being pregnant while unwed. Imagine the stress and sadness of having to be in a barn while going into labor!

Joseph- Imagine how upset, scared and angry Joseph might have felt when he found out that Mary was pregnant and not by him! Joseph was about to break up with her.  Imagine the fear when he learned he was to raise the Son of God! How terrifying!

The Shepherds– Again the first thing that the Angel said was “Be not afraid.”  They were terrified and in awe of what was going on.

What the story of Christmas has come to represent, though, is a hopeless world finding hope again. Jesus was born into a broken world, full of fear, danger, and tragedy. He was born in the sadness that you feel or the anxiety that you feel. More importantly though was that he was there to be the hope the world needed.

As you move through the holidays, whether it’s full of anger, grief, sadness or anxiety, may you find hope in the story of the birth of Jesus. That even when all seems broken and lost, Jesus offers hope. One of those avenues of hope is people like me, who offer a place to come and receive help when you are feeling depressed and anxious. Just as we reach out to God for help when we feel hopeless, reaching out to those who God uses to help heal is essential.

For more info on therapy services or to receive help go to www.teencounselingwa.com or reach out to His Heart Foundation.

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