The most common phrase that doctors, therapists, counselors, treatment and hospital centers, officers/guards, and parents hear from a teen is, “I just want to go home.”
We begin to visualize the popular Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz clicking her heels with her eyes closed repeating, “There’s no place like home,” over and over again. We may not be living in Oz but the words spoken do tell a story.
For parents it becomes personal. Maybe you have a teen in a healing sanctuary that can provide mental, emotional, or physical stability. Quite possibly your teen needed to enter a program to give them a wake-up call to the reality of what their choices have placed them in.
In either case, it is still hard for a parent to hear those words. Part of you is relieved and thankful that your child is safe and being cared for. It also gives you rest from the turmoil your teen has brought into your own life whether purposely or not.
The other half of you feels guilty and sad. How can you enjoy a meal, a night at the movies, and an outing with friends knowing your teen is in crisis and wants to come home? Are you allowed to feel free, at peace, and even happy?
My daughter once asked me, “How come you are not upset or crying when my situation is so bad? My answer to her was, “God has given me peace in knowing that He will take the responsibility of parenting you instead of me. Therefore, I have no need to worry because He has created you and knows exactly what you need. “
This however doesn’t negate the feelings and emotions we often are faced with each time we speak with our teen or hear those words, “I just want to go home.” Those words trigger an automatic reaction because, well, that’s what parents do – we react. When our child needs us, we run hard and fast to help them. To not respond or unable to respond leaves us with guilt and our children are left to believe that we don’t care.
In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy’s aunt and uncle were always there. They never left her side. But for Dorothy, she felt so far away from home. This is normal for our teen in crisis. When they are away from us, fear, anger, confusion and more grips them. So what can you do to help your teen know that you will always be there for them? And what can they do to change themselves for the better?
Here are some helps to get you and your teen moving forward.
1. Write often to them and let them know how valued they are as well as how much you love them. Send them encouraging quotes, scriptures, pictures of encouragement. Let them know that nothing they have done is too big for God to heal. He loves them with a fatherly love and wants to make them whole again.
2. Make phone calls or receive phone calls when you have the opportunity to communicate with them. Always end your conversation with, “I love you,” and “God has His hand on you.”
3. If you are not allowed to take items in with you for your visits with them, write a word of hope or scripture verse on your arm and share it with them.
4. If you are given the chance to visit with your teen, do it! Make every visit possible. They depend on you to be there. It sets the rest of the day for them. They need to know that you cared enough to put your time aside for a short while to spend time with them.
5. Ask others that know of your situation to also reach out to your teen in a loving way – writing a letter, making a call, a visit, etc…
6. Take time for yourself to rest. Go for a walk, visit a friend, take a nap, go shopping, or see a movie. Whatever helps you find peace and rest.
7. Encourage your teen to find new coping skills to guide them through their pain, difficulty, stress, or habit.
8. Challenge your teen to set new goals for their future with the help and direction from a mentor, counselor, or health advisor.
9. Get them excited in learning new creative outlets to help process their emotions such as art, music, writing, photography, movie making, etc…
10. Prepare a support team before they come home so that neither you nor your teen are alone as you charter the new waters of healing.
We all agree, there is no place like home. Until then, trust in the Lord and let Him guide you and give you rest and strength as you continually seek Him.
He turned the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into flowing springs; Psalm 107:35
May the Lord God refresh you and bring about healing for your teen and family.