Helping Youths Escape the “Death Culture”
What accounts for the fascination with the subject of death that is seen among young people today? Representative Henry Hyde, of the state of Illinois, U.S.A., said: “There is a spiritual vacuum in these young people that is filled with the culture of death and violence.”
A READER of Time wrote: “It’s lazy parents, violent entertainment and a lack of moral and spiritual grounding that are responsible for the subculture of death that exists among our youths today.”
Loneliness is another of the major problems afflicting adolescents. Some live in homes where both parents work and are absent most of the day; others have only one parent. According to one source, adolescents in the United States pass some 3.5 hours alone every day and spend 11 hours less with their parents each week than young ones did in the ’60’s. In fact, some young people do not have the presence or the emotional support of their parents at all.
What Parents Can Do
In view of the “spiritual vacuum” that young people contend with, how important is the role of parents? Wise parents understand that on the one hand, their children need wholesome entertainment and on the other hand, they need regular personal support. Motivated by loving interest, parents can talk with them about their preferences in music, television programs, videos, novels, video games, and movies. Although young people may not express it, many of them crave the affection and loving guidance of their parents. They need forthright answers because they live in a world full of uncertainties. Adults should understand that children face a much more complicated world than they did as youths.
Parents who wish to protect their children will converse with them regularly, really listen to them, and warn them of the dangers involved in modern culture. When parents set firm limits and are consistent and reasonable as well as affectionate with their children, they will normally have good results.—Matthew 5:37.
Parents who are Jehovah’s Witnesses make an effort to have regular discussions with their children, using the Bible and Bible-based publications and videos. * They use such occasions, not to call their children to account, but rather to consider subjects that are spiritually upbuilding. In these family gatherings, they listen to problems or challenges that affect each of their children so that the youths have an opportunity to receive individual attention.
Young people who get no spiritual guidance from their parents can gain strength from Psalm 27:10, which says: “In case my own father and my own mother did leave me, even Jehovah himself would take me up.” How does Jehovah, the Father of tender mercies, help young people? The congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses have been a refuge where many have found the affection of other people and have resolved their doubts. Josías, a young man who found that to be true, comments: “Jehovah’s organization fills a vital role. I felt that life was not worthwhile. I lived without purpose, without hope. To know that one is not alone changed my life completely. I saw in the brothers in the congregation the family that I had lost. The elders and the families in the congregation are like an anchor in an emotional sense.”
In fact, many youths and adults have improved their mental and spiritual health by regularly attending the congregation meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Anthropologist Patricia Fortuny commented about this positive effect in her essay Los Testigos de Jehová: una alternativa religiosa para enfrentar el fin del milenio (Jehovah’s Witnesses: A Religious Alternative for Facing the End of the Millennium): “Jehovah’s Witnesses offer a clear and explicit system of order to apply to daily life, an exact code that serves as a guide for thinking and acting.” The “system of order” and the “code” referred to here are based on the Bible. Hence, although Jehovah’s Witnesses face the same problems and pressures as their neighbors, they are strengthened by the unique wisdom of that ancient book. Yes, the Witnesses find refuge in the clear doctrines and principles found in the Bible.
When “Death Will Be No More”
The teaching given in the Kingdom Halls of Jehovah’s Witnesses stresses again and again God’s promise of a new world that will soon begin, where “righteousness is to dwell” and where “there will be no one making them tremble.” (2 Peter 3:13; Micah 4:4) Moreover, the prophet Isaiah records that then God “will actually swallow up death forever, and the Sovereign Lord Jehovah will certainly wipe the tears from all faces.” Death struck the human race as a consequence of the transgression of the first man, Adam, but God’s promise is that soon “death will be no more.”—Isaiah 25:8; Revelation 21:3, 4; Romans 5:12.
If you are a youth looking for help, we invite you to find hope and a reason for living, through the pages of the Bible. With the help of Jehovah’s Witnesses, you can have the hope that the best of times are still ahead of us in the new world that God promises.
^ par. 8 The video Young People Ask—How Can I Make Real Friends? is produced by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. It is presently in English and provides practical help for young people.
[Picture on page 9]
Parents should take time to really listen to their children and understand their problems
[Pictures on page 10]
“Jehovah’s Witnesses offer a clear and explicit system of order to apply to daily life”