Have you ever had one of those mom mornings when just getting out of bed seems like too much? Being the mom of teenagers is definitely not for the faint of heart!
Maybe you just discovered something heart-wrenching that your teen has done. Or maybe your teen said some shocking or painful words that left you reeling, or maybe he or she even became violent. Maybe your teen left, and you don’t even know where your child is. Maybe your teen is being blatantly defiant. Maybe you are just weary from the constant parenting struggles. Maybe the conversation exploded, and you said some things you wish you hadn’t and are feeling like a parenting failure.
We have all had those mornings in our parenting journeys when we just want to pull the covers back over our heads and give up! As mothers, we have so much invested in the lives of our children. We love them so much, and a breach in that parenting relationship can shake our world and break our hearts like little else.
I have been there! I know what it feels like to shed those tears, to feel rejected by the child you love, to second guess all your parenting decisions and wonder if things will ever be better.
But don’t give into those feelings of despair! At these times, you are in the thick of the battle for the heart of your teen, and this is not the time to give up or become disoriented by feelings of hopelessness. Instead, choose to take these five powerful actions.
1. Choose hope.
Our despair pulls us down and distracts us from being proactive and thinking clearly just at the time when we need to be at our best for our kids. When you hear those hopeless thoughts, consciously reject them. Don’t give them power over you by focusing on them. Choose to never give up!
2. Pray…with thanksgiving.
When you are in the middle of heartache, it can feel flippant for someone to tell you to pray. But prayer and gratitude can be powerful. In times of trouble, our hearts instinctively reach out for a power higher than ourselves, and this can give us great comfort. God hears our hearts and knows our pain.
When we pray, we entrust our pain to God and trust him to work in ways we can’t. When we do this with thanksgiving, we unleash the powerful effects of gratitude in our lives and start turning our minds to the positive.
3. Keep your heart open and continue building connection in whatever ways available.
Connection is the basis for all successful parenting. As Josh McDowell says, “Rules without relationship lead to rebellion.”
When we get angry or bitter, we close our hearts off from our children in a desire to protect ourselves from hurt. But this also blocks authentic connection from happening, which inhibits healing and restoring relationships.
Choosing to keep our hearts open and finding ways to build relationship with our kids in whatever ways possible, even when your relationship is in a hard place, forms the foundation for speaking into our kids’ lives and being able to establish healthy boundaries and discipline. I have seen amazing results in relationships with teens from even small overtures of connection.
4. Be intentional.
It is so easy to throw our hands up in the air when things get tough. “I shouldn’t have to put up with this,” we may tell ourselves. But it is not about what situation we should have. It is about the situation we do have. And consistency is key.
Our kids will not respect us if we give ourselves the luxury of venting our anger and throwing a fit when things get hard, and they won’t respect our boundaries if we stop enforcing them when there is kickback. It is often easy to trade enforcing boundaries for venting anger. As parents we are often tempted to take the route of least resistance, yell in anger at our children, and then say a passive aggressive, “fine, go ahead!” Or we do the opposite and threaten huge punishments that we could never actually enforce.
That is why it is so important to get perspective, regroup, and make an intentional plan for how to handle the problem. Feeling powerless is a huge trigger for anger. So, when we have a plan, we can avoid that trigger and focus on being intentional in how we act and speak.
There is Reason for Hope!
So, the next time you want to give up and just pull the covers over your head, remember that there is good reason for hope! Hopelessness and despair can cripple us, but these four choices can be powerful in overcoming the despair of the day and bringing real reconciliation and solutions for the future. I have sat across from many despairing moms with seemingly hopeless situations only to see amazing resolution come in the future!