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Adolescents have to endure various transformations associated with physical, mental, and spiritual aspects. This period can be referred to as the time of becoming as teenagers find their selves and transfer into adulthood. Young people develop their value systems and tend to adhere to them throughout their lives, and religious beliefs play quite a significant role in this development.
It is noteworthy that Millennials are considerably less religious than older generations as up to 50% of this population (at different ages) do not practice any religion, do not attend any religious facilities, and often disapprove of religious organizations (Twenge, Exline, Grubbs, Sastry, & Keith Campbell, 2015). At the same time, spirituality is quite important for young people although it takes less formal forms. This paper addresses the importance of spirituality in adolescents’ life regarding their health choices as well as the role home nurse professionals can play in the process of teenagers’ becoming.
Spirituality and Religiousness
First, it is necessary to define the concept of spirituality and religiousness to explore its role in adolescents’ development. Religiousness, in its broader sense, can be referred to as believing in sacred forces and their involvement in people’s life, adherence to certain practices, and compliance with specific principles and rules (Sauer-Zavala, Burris, & Carlson, 2014). Spirituality is even a more general concept associated with personal values and behavioral codes. As mentioned above, millennials are more secular than other generations, but they display adherence to quite strong conduct codes and value systems. Although adolescents may not subscribe to any formalized religious principles, they develop behavioral patterns based on the universal rules of morality.
Adolescence is a period when children separate from the influence of their parents. The parental role in their children’s spiritual and religious development has been a matter of substantial research characterized by rather conflicting results. For instance, Twenge et al. (2015) claim that the percentage of college students who do not share their parents’ religious beliefs and identify their affiliation as “none” has doubled since the 1970s.
However, Goeke-Morey, Taylor, Merrilees, Shirlow, and Cummings (2014) claim that parental religious beliefs have an impact on a significant population of teenagers. The association between mother’s religiousness and adolescents’ maturation is substantial, and mothers’ religious beliefs tend to have a positive impact on their children’s development. Goeke-Morey et al. (2014) state that religious and spiritual principles of mothers are instrumental in developing effective coping and adjustment strategies in adolescents. Therefore, it is clear that even though teenagers may not share their parents’ religious and spiritual beliefs, these principles and values have a significant effect on their further lives.
Spirituality and High-Risk Behaviors
The link between religiousness/spirituality and high-risk behavior has been researched for decades. Interestingly, findings suggest that the impact of religious beliefs can be twofold when it comes to certain spheres of life. On the one hand, adolescents who affiliate with some religious organizations and adhere to religious practices, tend to be less involved in risky behaviors as compared to those who do not associate themselves with any religious groups (Barkin, Miller, & Luthar, 2015). For instance, such teenagers, as well as those who have certain spiritual values, try to develop lasting emotional links and spiritual connections before developing sexual relationships with a person.
On the other hand, teenagers who practice a religion and come from a religious family tend to be less open when it comes to the discussion of sex-related issues. This peculiarity of their behavior is closely related to such behaviors as unprotected sex (Barkin et al., 2015). Yet, according to various studies, religious beliefs are not connected with young people’s sexual behavior (Barkin et al., 2015). Therefore, more research is needed in this area as risky sexual behavior in adolescence can have adverse health outcomes.
As far as other high-risk behaviors are concerned, underage drinking is one of the most serious issues to address since it hurts health. Sauer-Zavala et al. (2014) note that up to 40% of adolescents report binge drinking in the past month while over half report alcohol consumption during the same period. It is also found that religious and spiritual beliefs influence teenagers’ alcohol use. Those who affiliate themselves with religion tend to avoid binge drinking or drinking alcohol at all. Adolescents who have strong spiritual beliefs are also characterized by better health choices. Goeke-Morey et al. (2014) argue that parental religious and spiritual beliefs have a considerable impact on their adolescent children’s behaviors. Young people’s health patterns are often shaped by their own beliefs as well as parental involvement.
It is important to add that adolescents are the most vulnerable group as far as psychological issues and antisocial behaviors are concerned. Due to certain developmental peculiarities, teenagers often have to endure depression and other psychological issues (Barkin et al., 2015). These health conditions are associated with adolescents’ engagement in unhealthy choices. However, spiritual values or religious beliefs can become the necessary guidance for this population. Spirituality and religiousness are instrumental in keeping young minds far from inappropriate behavioral patterns, which, in turn, helps them to maintain proper health and transfer into adulthood safely.
Home Nurse Practitioner and Adolescents’ Health Behavior
Apart from parental influence and personal value systems, teenagers can also be encouraged to live healthier lives by healthcare professionals. Home nurse practitioners can help young people make reasonable choices related to their health (Kim-Godwin & Robinson, 2018). Nurses should be equipped with the necessary knowledge concerning spirituality, religiousness, and cultural peculiarities of different groups. It is essential to provide care that is characterized by such principles as empathy, mentorship, understanding, and a focus on spirituality.
Home nursing professionals can develop effective relationships with patients due to close contact and long-term interaction. In simple words, nurses living in a community tend to know many patients since their birth and can be aware of family profiles as well as children’s peculiarities and their health status.
When interacting with adolescents, nursing practitioners should always ask about their problems or fears that are not confined to their health. Constant talks about the negative effects of substance abuse, binge drinking, and unprotected sex can be regarded as preaching that may have quite a reverse effect. Hence, nurses have to make sure that the discussion of such issues is balanced. It can be more beneficial to address some values rather than the adverse effects of antisocial behaviors.
Being a part of the community and having certain relationships with families can make adolescents trusting and open to such kind of discussions (Kim-Godwin & Robinson, 2018). It is important to reach teenagers as often as possible, and any opportunity should be utilized to motivate and guide them. Regular check-ups, home visits (to adolescents or their relatives), community-based, and educational projects can be valuable platforms for effective communication with young people.
One of the essential areas to consider when planning interactions or communicating with adolescents is the discussion of various strategies aimed at coping with common mental and other health concerns. Nursing professionals should help teenagers deal with depressive symptoms. It is also critical to provide information regarding available resources that can assist the youth in coping with their issues (Kim-Godwin & Robinson, 2018). Teenagers will appreciate moderate mentorship if it is consistent with their spiritual and religious values. Therefore, it is pivotal to understand adolescents and identify (or learn about) their value systems and standards. This knowledge will enable home nurse practitioners to become an adult whose guidance and involvement will be accepted with gratitude.
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In sum, it is necessary to note that spirituality and religiousness have a considerable impact on adolescents’ health behaviors. Young people having definite values and beliefs are likely to refrain from such antisocial behaviors as substance abuse and promiscuity. Teenagers may follow their parents’ spiritual and religious path as well as choose their standards. The modern trend shows that young people are becoming less religious, but they are often more spiritual.
This information should be used by home nurses who can help adolescents to live healthy lives. These healthcare professionals should discuss various aspects of teenage life with the focus on their young patients’ values and beliefs. When providing care to millennials, it can be beneficial to focus on spirituality although religiousness can also be a good platform for interaction if the patient practices a religion. Being a mentor and providing health guidance compliant with the spiritual paradigm of the patient will help home nurse practitioners to provide high-quality care to the youth.
Barkin, S. H., Miller, L., & Luthar, S. S. (2015). Filling the void: Spiritual development among adolescents of the affluent. Journal of Religion and Health, 54(3), 844-861. Web.
Goeke-Morey, M. C., Taylor, L. K., Merrilees, C. E., Shirlow, P., & Cummings, E. M. (2014). Adolescents’ relationship with God and internalizing adjustment over time: The moderating role of maternal religious coping. Journal of Family Psychology, 28(6), 749-758. Web.
Kim-Godwin, Y. S., & Robinson, M. (2018). Family health promotion. In J. R. Kaakinen et al. (Eds.), Family health care nursing: Theory, practice, and research (6th ed.) (pp. 149-180). Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis.
Sauer-Zavala, S., Burris, J. L., & Carlson, C. R. (2014). Understanding the relationship between religiousness, spirituality, and underage drinking: The role of positive alcohol expectancies. Journal of Religion and Health, 53(1), 68-78.
Twenge, J. M., Exline, J. J., Grubbs, J. B., Sastry, R., & Keith Campbell, W. (2015). Generational and time period differences in American adolescents’ religious orientation, 1966–2014. PLOS ONE, 10(5). Web.