Hope for Parents of Struggling Teens
- Monday, April 16, 2007
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Mark Gregston's book, When Your Teen is Struggling: Real Hope and Practical Help for Parents Today, (Harvest House Publishers, 2007).
Is your teen failing in school, addicted to drugs, involved in a sexual relationship, or committing crimes? Does he or she lash out at you in anger, lie to you, steal from you, refuse responsibility, or threaten suicide?
These and other troubling scenarios affect many teens today, and if you’re the parent of a struggling teen, you may be sinking into despair. No matter how hard your teen is struggling right now, though, there is hope – hope for a brighter future for your teen, and a restored relationship between you.
Here’s how you can help your teen overcome his or her struggles:
Face reality. Admit and accept that your teen is dealing with serious problems. Decide to do whatever it takes to help your son or daughter pursue healing.
Don’t panic. Know that God offers you real hope to overcome any difficulty and restore any relationship. Look beyond your teen’s problems to the God you can trust to give you wisdom to deal with them. In prayer, place the situation in God’s hands and ask Him to guide you and your teen through it.
Know that you’re not alone. Recognize that plenty of other parents are facing the same issues you’re facing, and that anyone can have a struggling teen, regardless of how good they are as parents. Remember that God – who loves your teen even more than you do – sees what’s going on and cares about it. Turn to God in prayer often to ask for the strength you need.
Realize that God uses bad situations to accomplish good purposes. Understand that this time in your son or daughter’s life will not be wasted if you invite God to transform it. Ask God to use it to help your teen grow more into the person he or she is meant to be. Know that your teen’s struggles aren’t just distractions; they’re valuable tools God can use to help him or her grow. Trust that, even though you don’t see what God is doing right now, God is still at work behind the scenes working out good purposes in your teen’s life.
Stay engaged with your teen. No matter how frustrated you become, don’t abandon your relationship with your son or daughter. Recognize that your teen needs you, especially at this time. Even when your struggling teen pushes you away, remain committed to him or her. Ask God to help you persevere and continue to express love to your teen, no matter what.
Be compassionate. Don’t condemn your teen; doing so will only push him or her farther away. Ask God to give you His compassionate perspective on your teen’s struggles. Use kindness and gentleness when you communicate with your teen, seeking to let God’s love flow through you into your son or daughter’s life. Pray for the wisdom you need to express tenderness to your teen while still exercising the strong authority you need to maintain as a parent.
Figure out what’s behind your teen’s behavior. Recognize that the real issue isn’t your teen’s behavior, no matter how outrageous it is. Know that what’s most important are the reasons behind your teen’s behavior. Get to know what is motivating your teen to act the way he or she does. For example, is your teen reacting to a recent move, your divorce, or abuse of some kind? Instead of just trying to stop your teen’s reckless behavior, help your teen work through the issues that are causing the behavior.
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