I had no idea that when I adopted my daughters what path they would take me on. Although I did not birth them physically, they were birthed in my heart and I have never stopped loving them despite all the obstacles of pain and hurt that we have all gone through.
Sometimes people felt sorry for my circumstances and if I didn’t have God in my life, I would have probably agreed with those people and even cried some tears on their shoulders. However, since God is very much a part of my life, He has instilled in me a purpose way bigger than I had ever anticipated and given answers along the way to help me cope with the ups and downs of a teenager’s life.
Since traveling the trail of uncertainty as a parent with teens in crisis, I have learned more about myself than I ever could in all my years of growing up. I have also gained a tremendous amount of compassion towards not just my own children but also of others. My children have caused me to look deeper into the eyes of all teens and they created in me this awareness that I never had before. An awareness to seek out the hurting, the abandoned, the lost and to have an understanding and compassion for other parents like me who so desperately want to help our teens and see them heal and have purpose for their life.
I am also thankful that some of the personal trials I’ve dealt with gave me the advantage to comprehend the struggles that teens deal with today, and as an adult what parents go through now. We as parents have our own set of problems, but mixed in with those problems are the complex issues that teens bring into the family. It can bring division, depression for other family members, isolation of siblings, and moments of panic and stress in saving your child. It can cause marital strife, financial strain and so much more.
My biggest support really is other parents who are struggling right along with me. It is those times where I feel heard and validated for the feelings that I have as a parent of a teen in crisis. It is those times that I have an ally, who are praying with me, checking on me, and caring just as much for my children as I am for theirs.
The hardest part is not calling myself a failure as a parent. We as parents have this tendency to come down hard on ourselves as if it is our fault for each crisis that happens to our teenagers. I have come to learn though, that I am not perfect, my children are not perfect and each of us has been created as a precious and wonderful gift by God and that is how we should see each other. Knowing that, I can with God’s help, encourage, build up, and help heal along with supporting and loving my teens that will start them on their recovery so that they can be made whole again with hope for their future.
The most valuable thing that I have learned on this journey is that it is so easy to lose your own identity and self-worth as a parent and as a person. I got so caught up in my teen’s lives that I couldn’t seem to decipher me anymore. Somewhere the boundary lines got foggy and it affected my daily living, my marriage, even in my relationships with my peers and my teens.
Instead of protecting and helping them, I found myself being overprotective and keeping them from growing. It stifled me as a parent too. I wasn’t making the best decisions because I couldn’t discern the right choices while being under stress and in the midst of depression from the crises within the home. Literally living their lives to help them, I found myself losing the battle for the health of my own mentality.
One of the biggest issues that parents struggle with is taking down that pride of getting help and doing whatever is needed to bring about healing for the family. I can tell you that trying to fix your own family never works. When you get to the point where it becomes a crisis for your teen, get help! Don’t waste time like I did. I could have saved several years of pain for my family if I had put away my pride and thoughts of embarrassment of seeking help.
It is easy to ask help from God when you pray, but facing your peers is something quite different. I was afraid of being told that I didn’t do a good job of handling my teen and that I should have known better. But I know now that it was all a lie and that none of that was true. My insecurities got the best of me and hurt me more and slowed down the progress of restoring the lives of my teens.
What I can say through all of this is that God never wavered from me. His constant presence would reveal to me many times of unceasing love and patience and mercy towards me and our family. Support would come when I thought that I was at the end of my rope. Different circumstances would unveil before my eyes in ways that proved God did care. He did understand and He would never leave.
Don’t delay. Find a really good friend who you can openly be honest and let them know of your struggles in being a parent. Meet with a church leader who can be so valuable in supporting you and pray for you and even connect you with other parents who are struggling too with the same kind of issues your family is dealing with.
Call a counselor. Don’t be ashamed or feel like a failure. Failure only happens when you do nothing. If God never gives up on you, then be that example of God’s love and don’t give up on your teen. There is help.
There is a quote in Beth Moore’s book called “Praying God’s Word” that truly speaks volumes to me for all that I have gone through as well as my family too. I am reminded that in the end, it will be His Glory that is magnified when He delivers our teens from the pain, hurt and abandonment that they struggle with and in turn replaced with hope, love, and a future to look forward to.
God never misses a single tear of the oppressed. He sees our suffering and knows the depth of our need. He anguishes yet He waits…until the tears that have fallen on dry ground or upon the shoulders of others equally frail are poured instead before His throne. He waits – not until the oppressed cry out – but until we cry out to him. Only then will we know the One and Only who redeems us.