When you have a teen in crisis, you are always in fix mode. It comes with the territory when you are especially a parent with the characteristics of compassion and caring.
I would be the first one in line to raise my hand and say I have this problem. I call it a problem instead of a help because let’s get real, it can cause many problems. That compassion can lead to enabling behavior in a way that will be destructive.
How may you ask? Here’s an example. Your teen has had issues with drinking. But you are afraid them drinking at other places or meet up with friends and go crazy on drinking. So, you allow them to drink at home or you give them a drink that is less addictive in your mind such as a glass of wine.
You haven’t encouraged them to not drink. You haven’t encouraged them to take responsibility in a way that will cut dry their alcohol addiction for good. You have not sought counsel for them. Instead, you have reasoned with yourself that you can keep them from getting worse. That my dear friend is enabling. That is not leading them to a road of recovery but to more destructive behavior.
It doesn’t have to be about drinking. It could be about an eating disorder, a drug addiction, a self-harm issue. Whatever their crisis is, it is your crisis too.
Along the way, we have been caught up in their crisis to a point that we are not able to make good judgments or choices. We just want them to survive or to grow out of that phase in a safe way. That is…distorted thinking.
This type of thinking eventually catches up and you find yourself in a more severe situation. As I mentioned about the parent earlier who allowed the teen to drink at home, that now turns into a teen who gets behind the wheel drunk. This evolves into an accident that hurts someone. Do you see where this is going? Now that teen is in juvenile detention with possibly severe consequences.
If you think you are the only one who struggles with this, think again. Many, many parents do. And sadly, the only way it can come to the surface that parents are part of the problem is through the results of those enabling actions.
So now you find yourself in a worse state than before with your teen in crisis. It is so dire that it nearly destroys you. You have realized the error of your ways of parenting. How do you get through this now?
- Confess your sin. Admit the wrong you have done before God and towards your teen and family. It is hard and painful. However, it will lift the heavy burden that you have been carrying. It will take the blinders off of your eyes of where you have gone wrong and where you need to go.
- Ask for forgiveness. In order to move forward towards the healing that your family needs, you need to ask for forgiveness. We have all disobeyed God by the fleshly choices we have made and the prideful attitude in thinking that we knew better in our parenting. Humbly go before Him and ask to be forgiven. Also, ask forgiveness with your spouse and with your children. Our choices affect others close to us too.
- In order for healing to even begin, we have to change our ways, our thought processes and to never go back to how we have handled things before. We need to repent, turn around and not fall into those habits again. The only way to do this is to pave a new road of behavior. The best place to start is asking God for wisdom and direction.
- Along with bad choices come consequences. Some of them will be moderate and some will be severe. Either way, we have to live with them. The good news is this; God is merciful and will sustain you and give you the grace and strength you need to get through those consequences. God also uses them for His greater purposes in our lives as well as our teens. How we respond to those consequences is what matters. Are we going to be angry or bitter of how things were resolved? Or are we going to accept those consequences and learn from them?
- Move forward slowly. After taking care of the first three positive steps towards restoration of your family, it is easy to jump in and think we have a new mindset of what needs to be done. Go slowly. There is no need to hurry. The best choices and decisions come from time and seeking all wisdom from authority – God, counselors, and the Church (Pastoral). This will guide you and keep you from making bad habitual choices again.
- We all need counseling. It is beneficial for the entire family, but more so for you. In order to keep you from making the same mistakes and sin again, you need to find out how it happened in the first place so that it is not repeated. That means getting to the root of the issue. It will hurt. It will be emotionally painful. You will find it hard to hear what needs to be said to you. You will not like it, but it is the best thing for you. God put those in place of counseling to restore and heal the family. They will give you tools in parenting that will be helpful and not harmful. They will help your teen more than you. Their goal is to see the entire family healed and restored. It is not a bashing session. It is a healing session. Trust them.
- Pray and Praise God in all things. Without prayer and the Word, you will struggle. I found that by praising, reading and praying, it refreshed me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It was tough breaking through because of how stressed and discouraged I was. However, I found that the more I did it, the stronger I became in all areas. It also increased my faith and I was able to carry on day to day instead of minute by minute. By praising God, you are saying that you surrender your will and your family to Him. By praying, you are in communication with God so that He can speak to you. By reading His Word, you are gaining wisdom and knowledge in all things, including parenting. It takes commitment, a willingness to put other things aside so that you can dedicate your time with Him.
In the end, your sins and mistakes will become your lessons and victories. Each moment we learn, we grow from. God takes our weaknesses and turns them into purposes. He loves you. He wants the best for you. He wants to heal your family.
Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18