Life can feel like a roller coaster when you’re a parent of a middle schooler or a teen. Although you love your child, do their erratic emotions and sometimes questionable decision-making ever make you feel like your child is a bit crazy? You’re not alone. A doctor told me research is showing that the brain undergoes major changes during the teen years; the parts of the brain that control emotions and rational decision-making develop toward the end of adolescence. This leaves our children susceptible to many poor choices, which in turn contribute to that roller-coaster feeling we experience as parents.
So how you do keep loving and supporting your teen through these tumultuous years? How do you handle when they don’t seem to want your help? How do you find the strength take on challenges as they arise? Check out these three essential tools that can help you find inner strength as a mom when the crazy kicks in with your teen.
1. Recharge daily
I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!
Ephesians 1:17-19 (The Message)
God can give us the endless energy we need if we only ask. When we pray he can give us clarity, wisdom, and direction on how to work with our teen. Daily drawing strength from God and letting him recharge us allows us to work from the overflow of strength inside rather than the leftover energy after a busy day. Even on the difficult days, trust that God believes you’re the mom to shape your teen’s life and he will equip you for this great work.
What’s sapping your strength? For me, it’s not usually the circumstances but rather my own fear and hopelessness that steal my energy. The endless worry of a mom can not only take your strength, but it can also undermine your joy. God wants us to talk to him and rely on him for strength and peace:
God says “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)
As moms we need the comfort that we are not alone; God is going through this journey of the teen years with us. We need the reassurance that God is near and supporting us and our family, no matter what happens.
Another thing that steals our strength is losing hope. Maybe you are hoping for a change in your child, at work, or in your life situation. But sometimes change is hard to see or a long time coming. When we fill our minds only thinking of how hard things have been and indulge in discouragement we will lose hope.
Sometimes, we lose hope because we are hoping in the wrong things.We can look to someone, something, or a positive outcome for hope. I find that when I put my hope in the wrong place so I miss out on the renewal that could be mine. Isaiah 40:31 (NIV) says,
“but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Putting your hope in God each day infuses you with a divine strength that recharges you and helps you go the distance with your teen.
2. Resilience is essential
God is our refuge and strength,an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
Psalm 46:1-3 (NIV)
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
1 Peter 5:10 (NIV)
Resilience is what enables you to love your teen with your whole heart even after you have been hurt by them. Ever felt hurt by something your teen said or did? This can be a hard one to admit, because rationally we know we are the adult and should be able to see past the things our teens say. But let’s face it – sometimes our feelings get hurt.
When God is the place you turn, you will find the ability to forgive your teen for the hurtful things they may say or do. You will be able to stand firm which will make you confident and leave your teen secure (although they probably won’t tell you that). Our kids need to know with that God’s help we can withstand their emotional gyrations and crazy choices. Our resilience is essential.
Usually, what makes me not resilient is my own guilt. I battle with regret of what I should have done, what I said I would do but I didn’t, and not prioritizing my time and energy. As moms, we need pray though guilt. We can feel like we have blown it with our children on any given day. We question ourselves and replay things in our minds that we should have done differently. As 1 Peter 5:10 says, God is the God of all grace – for us and our teen. Things may be challenging as we and our teen grow and learn to turn to God, and we might make a lot of mistakes. However, God promises to make us strong and steady if we will turn to him and ask him for help.
3. Rely on the long-view
As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.
Colossians 1:11-12 (The Message)
Understanding God and his relationship with us can give us the perspective to have long-term vision for our children in the midst of difficulty. God patiently plans the times and places for us to reach out to him (Acts 17:26-27), his love covers a multitude of our sin (1 Peter 4:8), and while we were still hurting him he sacrificed his life (Rom 5:6). Why? He looks at who we are meant to become and not who we are today. His heart and character make up for our weaknesses.
What would need to change in you for you to be patient, strong and learn to love like God loves? While God is waiting on us to change, his strength endures the unendurable and overflows with joy. How would finding this type of strength change your parenting? How would this type of joy influence your son or daughter? Could God be using your child to chisel away at your self-reliance and drive you to rely on him to get strength and shape your character? Who are you supposed to become in the long-run? Embrace the moment, embrace the change!
So when you’re having a rough day with your teen stop and think, “How is God using this moment to shape my character and to teach me how to draw strength from him?” Decide to recharge daily so you can give to cheerfully to your family regardless of circumstances. Throw off guilt and forgive to become resilient. Finally keep your perspective in sight. Don’t get caught up in the moment. God wants to do great things with you and your teen, and these years are simply shaping you for the bigger plans in your family’s future.