“It’s not time to worry yet.”
These words were written by Harper Lee in her classic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, and they certainly ring true when it comes to our own parental propensity to worry. Will there ever be a convenient time to worry? Hardly! But worry has an ugly way of rearing its head at inconvenient times, as we all know. We try not to worry, but our attempts often seem futile, which in turn makes it hard to be confident in helping our kids navigate through their own fear and worry.
Fear is real—in fact, God created it (more on this below)—but worry is never beneficial. By looking a little closer at the problems of fear and worry, we can learn where they come from, what they are at their root, how to overcome them through the power of God, and how to help our kids do the same.
Common Gen Z fears
Based on stereotypes—e.g. the “selfie” generation—it would be reasonable to expect Gen Zers’ greatest fears to be self-focused, but when looking at generation-specific statistics from studies in both the USA and the UK, it’s clear that their worries are much more outwardly focused. Societal issues at large are significant sources of fear for them, and this can largely be attributed to the usage of social media as a tool to get information about and discuss current social issues. In a sense, the young adults of Generation Z (b. mid- to late-1990s to mid-2010s) are more grounded in reality, so they may feel they have more reason to fear.
According to the studies, Gen Z’s greatest fears are:
- School safety
- Gun violence
- The state of the government
- Debt and lack of ability to find work
COVID-19 is a prime example of this outward fear: they worry over future job opportunities, the health of loved ones, how the government is handling such a crisis, what the world will look like once this is all over, and more.
How we can bring peace to fears
The best way to disciple your kids into having a biblical perspective of fear and worry is to first model it to them by how you live your own life. Seek the Lord and His Word for wisdom; take a class at your church; get professional counseling assistance—do whatever it takes. In doing so, you’ll be better equipped to help your kids. Proverbs 14:26 says “Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.” When you keep God as the supreme authority in your life, not only does it make you secure, it brings stability to your children as well.
Second, allow your children to acknowledge their fear and worry—there is no shame in having those feelings, but it’s not healthy to stay in that headspace long-term. When we bring our fear into the light (Ephesians 5:13), it loses its power, so think of ways to make your home a safe place to talk about fear and worry, no matter how “shameful” they might seem. Be the one to bring up the topic first; if you don’t talk about a subject, your kids will learn implicitly that that subject is off-limits. So bring it up first by talking about your own fears (especially triumphs over them!) and second by asking them about theirs. Remind them that they are safe with you and that they will not be judged.
But don’t let the conversation end there. Talk to them about how, by God’s power and grace, they can overcome their anxieties and worries. Train them to only live in the fear of the Lord and not the fear of man. Teach them about the peace that comes from the Holy Spirit’s presence in their lives. Teach them to seek the Lord and listen for His voice. Disciple them in what it means to be content (Hebrews 13:5-6). Teach them to seek the Lord for consolation in their struggles: “When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul” (Psalm 94:19). By discipling your children in the ways of the Lord, you are together building a solid spiritual foundation that will help them have the strength to hold fast to God in every circumstance.(Note: This is an adaptation from our Parent’s Guide to Fear and Worry. For more scriptural perspective, ways to help Gen Z cope, discussion questions, and more, read the full Guide.)