I asked a number of questions throughout the project…questions like: “Why in the world does this need to be done this way?” or “I thought we had planned for that?” and ultimately, “Why has something that was supposed to be so quick and easy, now become so drawn out and hard…will it ever end?” Sound familiar?
Maybe your relationship with your teenager feels like my home remodeling project. Perhaps what you thought would be a momentary struggle has turned into open wound that won’t heal. Maybe your plans for your teen are seemingly going awry, and they are lying, conning you, and making horrible mistakes. If so, I want to challenge you to a different perspective.
Consider this…if you have ever prayed to be the parent God has called you to be, that’s just what He’s doing! This is a time of tremendous opportunity to build into your child’s life…trusting God to direct your path along the way. Now’s your chance to be used when you’re needed the most.
Don’t back off from the role that He’s called you to. Your understanding of your parenting role is necessary. Your willingness to hang in there during this tough time is perseverance at its best. Your commitment to be a part of God’s plan for your child, seen or unseen, is godly. Your loving your child when it isn’t so pretty is true love. Your knowledge that God is involved in your family is an anchor of hope that will keep you reflecting His love to your child.
And if you will keep the perspective that conflict can bring about change, there is genuine hope….hope that your child can get on the other side and that your relationship can be healed.
When you begin to think about your child and what they’ve been involved in behaviorally, more times than not, it’s usually worse than what you think, but never quite as bad as you can imagine. But no matter what you think or what you imagine, there is nothing that can’t be overcome, and there is no relationship that can’t be restored…none.
Understand that what is happening right now in the life of your child and your family is not the whole story. The whole story is what God is up to…His “bigger picture” which entails a whole lot more people than you or your child. And the breadth of that picture is spread far beyond your timing.
I know that it’s hard to think about the bigger picture when you hurt for your child now. But there’s a lot more going on than your situation and your child’s behavior. It doesn’t mean your struggle is any less important, but it does help with keeping your situation in a proper framework. Use this difficult time as a prod to deepen your relationship with your child, and you’ll shorten the amount of time that your child remains in their darkness.
Finally, don’t panic and don’t try to “fix” your child. Fix the boundaries, fix the consequences, and maybe even change the environment, but you’ll never fix your child. Only God can change your child’s heart. Instead, focus on what you can fix in your parenting, and get out of God’s way to do what He needs to do.
Over the years I have found that parents usually get pretty scared when a child begins to struggle. Their fear is based on the realization that they may not be ready to tackle these new challenges. Some may “awfulize” the situation and make more of it than they should. Others may do nothing and hope the fire will extinguish itself. Or, it may be that they are just exhausted.
So, could this be a good time to place these things in God’s hands…into the hands of the one who promises that He will cause all things to work together for good? You bet it is! If you do, you will be on the pathway to restoration.
You and I know of God’s hand in the past…we know of it in the future…but our difficulty comes in believing in His involvement in what is happening today. So, pray. And keep a daily diary; it will help you maintain perspective. Look for ways that God is working in your teen’s life, and record those; being sure to thank Him as you see His hand at work.
Yes, there is hope…if you will hang in there with your child…trust God to fulfill His plan…keep a right perspective…and understand that there is indeed a path to restoration. Depend on His promises to remain true. God, the Creator, is fully capable to fashion a new life and a new relationship between you and your child…so allow Him to heal your relationship. He’ll amaze you, as he does me, as He creates abundant life and perfection out of dust and confusion.
——————————————————————————————–About the Author: Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, national radio host, and the founder of Heartlight, a residential counseling opportunity for struggling adolescents, where he lives with 50 high schoolers. Call 903-668-2173. Web: http://ww.heartlightministries.org.