I have met a lot of parents with teens in crisis throughout the years and among them I found four common responses.
When a situation arises and your teen is in crisis, which one of these negative parenting styles are you implementing into your life?
The Denial Parent – Although you love your teen, you think that what they are doing is just a rebellious stage in their life in which they will finally outgrow it and get their life together with time. When you do see the outright dangers and concerns, you hope that it will quickly die down and be fixed on its own by the next day. If someone confronts the situation head on, you retreat and let them know that you are working on it but it is never addressed in the long run. When you cannot deny it any longer, you find many excuses as to why you couldn’t help in the first place.
The Enabling Parent – So you know your teen is struggling and acting out negative behavior that would affect their welfare. You don’t want to send a message that you don’t love your child anymore by saying the word “No!” and not help them. Instead, you provide for any need they have hoping it will make them better while keeping happiness and peace within the family. However, the type of help you give them continues the pattern they are in and makes their issues worse by not breaking the cycle. As a parent, confronting their issues is difficult which leaves you to not providing alternatives such as counseling or health and crisis programs.
The Counseling Control Parent – Thinking you know better than anyone else how your teen’s mind works, you keep them from getting the professional support they need by doing it yourself. You also would like to keep your family problems within the family at all cost. You refuse advice or guidance by others and instead will search high and low for your own answers via the internet or books. You like to be in control of every situation and over your teen because you feel that you will get better results. In the end, the teen is not getting better while you are still trying to control their world as well as yours.
The Fearful Parent – Time stops for you when you find yourself with a teen in crisis. Any decisions that need to be made are not implemented due to fear of making the wrong decision. You are frozen in place hoping that something new will come along that gives you enough assurance that no guessing is involved. Your fear also keeps you from seeking and reaching for help. Always worried that someone will find out, you back yourself into a corner of shame and embarrassment. You also fear that if you do or don’t intervene in your teen’s life there may be severe consequences leaving you with a lot of guilt.
The biggest common thread among all of these come to two words – Selfishness and Pride.
The biggest factor that keeps your teen from getting the immediate help they need – You!
The biggest way to respond and meet the need of that teen now? Put your own agenda and feelings aside and put your teen first.
Now, I can personally say all of this because I have lived all of those roles while my teens went through their own issues and crises. Praise God, my life has changed. I did whatever was necessary to help my teen. I totally allowed the professionals to lead me in my parenting as well as show me new ways of giving support, encouragement, and help for my teen in crisis.
The only way to grow as a parent is to be humble and pliable to the changes that need to be made. This is the first and foremost way of seeing your teen heal and make smart life choices for the good. I was a good parent, but also a parent with no guidebook when it came to a hurting and struggling teen with issues far bigger than I could handle. It’s okay if you don’t know what to do. That is what the professionals are there for.
We must be willing to change. When we stop caring, it will only lead to a destructive path, not just for our teen but for our entire family. Ask the Lord for Godly wisdom and guidance. He will provide completely if you are willing to let him lead. Seek out counselors, health providers, crisis centers for specific issues, support groups and rehab centers. Lastly, ask for support from your church family and pastor.
Where there is no guidance, the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory. (Proverbs 11:14)
Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed. (Prov. 15:22)
Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge. (Proverbs 23:12 NIV)
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. (Psalm 32:8 NIV)