No Christian parent plans to have a troubled teenager. You pour prayer and Scripture into their lives, show them all the love you know how, and do your best to stay connected through all the craziness of life. But for some parents, that just doesn’t seem to be enough.
In a recent series on her blog, Jen Hatmaker, star of HGTV’s reality show My Big Family Renovation, explains both why she loves being the parent of teens, and also the struggles that come along with it. In fact, one of Hatmaker’s friends has felt the sting of parenting in a deep way:
“We first started seeing changes in Landon when he was around 5. That's when he really started to show some defiance. He became very pessimistic and lacking empathy for others. And worst, no remorse. We started getting calls from teachers about 5th grade. By 6th grade we were called to the principal's office. Now he is in 11th grade and it's only gotten harder. His high school principal joked that he needed to put us on speed dial. He's on probation for the 3rd time. Thankfully, nothing serious - just a lot of really stupid choices that he didn't get away with.
“But, let me tell you, seeing your child in an orange jumpsuit handcuffed is HARD. Just typing that makes me cry. Seeing him in pain because of his choices is so hard as a parent to watch. But we have given him the necessary tools, guidance and resources to make the right choices. We have had to step back and let the natural consequences play out.”
In the middle of this struggle, Hatmaker’s friend wants to offer hope to those who face their own troubled teen. Here are her 9 tips:
Get help: No parent should ever try to handle a struggling teen alone. That’s why we all need a community of believers.
Find “prayer warriors” to fight with you: This is a spiritual battle, and you need backup.
Take time to rest: Helping a struggling teen will wear you out emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Find a Christian camp, family member, or friend to send your child to for a short time.
Do not give up on your teen: Even if you have to let the natural consequences play out, believe the child can be restored.
See your child as lost (not defective): You have to lovingly help them find their way to Christ.
Get to the root of the issues: Keep digging to find the root of what’s causing the behavior.
Realize they do need you: Even if they don’t want to admit it, they still need you.
Don’t ignore warning signs: You may want to write something off, but keep your eyes open.
Remember that nothing can separate your teen from God’s love—and it shouldn’t from yours: We must remember that, even when it’s hard, they desperately need our unfailing love.
In a recent article on this site, author Nicole O’Dell offers some important advice for soon-to-be and current parents of teens. Mainly, she wants us to get ready:
“The battle we fight in protecting, shielding, and preparing our teens for life’s hot-button issues isn’t as black-and-white as a physical battle in which the wins and losses can be easily quantified. We must often blindly face the battles for our kids, operating more on faith than on sight, being obedient to the call of Christ and reliant on the leading of the Holy Spirit. We have been given tools in God’s Word to prepare us to guard against the confusion of this world, however. And we’re granted partnership with the Holy Spirit, who will lead and guide us according to godly wisdom and sight. That guidance is invaluable as we prepare our kids for life’s battles.”
Now it’s your turn. What advice do you have for parenting teens? What can Christian parents do to get ready for this adventure?