Someone once told me several years ago that I shouldn’t be as involved in my teen’s life and to let them make their own decisions and mistakes.
I partially agreed. You can say to most parents that letting your kids make their own mistakes is a good thing. It teaches them many valuable lessons.
However, if you have a teen with a mental illness, a debilitating disorder, or a teen who has an addiction, you should never accept that advice.
When a teen is in crisis, they have many strikes against them. Here are just two.
- Their comprehending and reasoning skills are not fully developed yet as a teen.
- They are more prone to influences that encourage them to act upon risky behavior that is harmful.
Teens who are in crisis will not learn by mistakes. They will be greatly hurt by choices that they have made and sometimes be sorry. Unfortunately, their mental state often dictates to them that they are not in danger and that their behavior is acceptable. Many of their brains have been altered and distorted into a different mental thought pattern. This is especially true for those teens who struggle with addictions, illnesses, and disorders.
The positive side of this is that a teen’s behavior and issues CAN change. This can be done through therapy, counseling, and new coping skills. Their thought processes can be modified and rehabilitated. They can also of course be changed through prayer.
I, along with other parents, would love to see our teens learn from their decision-making and errors in life. But with an illness, addiction or disorder, that is often complicated because their mind does not reason properly. We all know that a teen’s pre-frontal cortex of the brain has not been fully developed. This makes it more difficult for teens to evaluate, reason, and comprehend their thoughts before a choice is made. This is not to say that they do not know right from wrong. However, most teens are not thinking morally at the time of that decision. They are going on other factors such as hormones, emotions, anger, adrenaline, influences, and peer pressure.
So how do we go about helping our teens in crisis make better decisions?
First, learn what you can about why they are in crisis in the first place. If it is an addiction, what was the trigger that began them on their journey of self-destruction? What major event led them down that path?
If your teen has a disorder, seek out those in the field of your teen’s diagnosis. Learn everything you can about the disorder as well as behaviors that coincide with that disorder.
If you suspect that your child has a mental illness, reach out to a psychiatrist to accurately diagnose your teen. By getting a correct diagnosis, the doctor will also give you tools to help your teen through their illness. New therapies are being researched, developed, and integrated into the field of mental illness. Encourage your teen to utilize new ways to manage their behavior in a crisis so that they can make wise decisions in difficult situations.
More importantly, pray for your teen. Pray for God’s protection and pray for discernment in moments of decision-making. God can intervene in our teen’s life when we are not able to. He can direct our teen in the right direction when needed.
God does not want us to be filled with fear on a daily basis because of the actions and decisions our teen may make due to their crisis. Ultimately, God is responsible for them when we present our teen before His throne. Afterall, He created them and knows their mind better than us.
God will also guide you as parents to the right resources that can greatly help your teen succeed and overcome whatever the crisis is.
“For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding.”
“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
“Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in an abundance of counselors there is victory.”