When we think of “parents with a teen in crisis” we immediately come to the conclusion that mom and dad are involved. However, there are also thousands of single moms and dads who struggle as parents too. One such parent is my friend Lynn. I asked her to share with me some of the difficulties she has endured as a single parent with a teen in crisis. We pray that you will find encouragement through Lynn’s story and that you are not alone in your single parenting journey.
Were you a stay at home mom or working mom when you noticed your daughter’s issues? I am a working mom who works from home and also cared for my mother who had health issues. Both of my daughters now are ages 21 and 23.
Each parent with a child in crisis has a story. Can you give me a little background of how you became aware that your children were dealing with a serious issue? While my oldest has had anger and insecurity issues due to a divorce, it is my youngest that has been most concerning. In her senior year of high school her grades began to drop, she spoke of hating school and had friendships end. I later came to find out that she was sexually assaulted by a football player who trapped her in his car. She told no one. To cope, she began experimenting with drugs. She chose to attend a city college (which was a good move) but in her second year, I began to see her breakdown emotionally little by little. At the end of the year, she broke up with her boyfriend of 2 years, told me she was bi-sexual and began living a wild lifestyle. She went skydiving, had her septum pierced, began losing weight rapidly, out at very late hours of the night, and clearly came home wasted. My daughters and I are very close, are able to have transparent conversation and purpose time together. So, not only was I trying to deal with her behavior, she shut me out of her life; I was a roommate of insignificance. When school started again in the fall, she was having difficulty focusing, and tried working two jobs. In January, she confessed she felt there was something mentally wrong with her as she began pulling out her hair and cutting herself. She agreed to go into counseling which lead to a psychiatric diagnosis of bi-polar. She is on medication and continues seeing her counselor which is helping her work through some core issues.
Were there any issues that you faced that left you unprepared? I felt I had raised my children right, following God’s lead in discussing pre-martial sex, same sex encounters and being inebriated was not God’s will. So hearing all this was overwhelming. I sought counseling and entered into a “life group” called Hurting Moms who were dealing with challenges with their children. I also sought wise counsel from my pastor and other parents in my circle who had or are dealing with similar issues.
What challenges did you face as a single parent as you tried to help your child/children? My ex-husband has not been involved in parenting so I felt I was on my own. There was no one to back me up when boundaries were crossed. I had to seek emotional support from my inner circle of friends I trusted.
Do you believe that being single (chosen or unwillingly) played a part in your child’s issues? Absolutely! Both my children have abandonment and trust issues. They do appreciate what I have done for them and recognize that I am a strong woman due to my trust in God leading me. However, I could never (or the other close men in our lives) replace the love and guidance of a father.
Caring and retrieving help for a child in crisis can be time consuming, financially strapping, and often overwhelming spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. It is hard enough for two parents. How then, were you able to overcome those odds as a single parent? Prayer, prayer, prayer by myself and others is number one. Having health insurance that covers part of the cost of counseling, medical visits and medication is also helpful. Having that “inner circle” of those you can trust with your story is very helpful and conquers the devils desire we isolate, become ashamed or give up.
Mental illness and drug addiction among young people is a growing concern for parents across this country. There are many fears about these issues and how to help a child thru these predicaments. What resources (e.g. counseling, rehab, programs), did you come across to help you be more prepared to support your child with her issues? HurtingMoms.com, counseling, and prayer. My daughter also allowed me to attend some of her couseling, medical and psychiatric appointments that gave me and the professional’s insight from another perspective.
As Christians, we look and address problems differently than others in the world. We use prayer, the Word of God, and guidance with spiritual counsel and advice. The world uses counselors, programs, rehabs, and mentors with a more self-help humanistic approach to healing. How did you cope with your child’s crises as a Christian mom? Continual prayer and let my “inner circle” in on the issues we were having so I had community prayer ongoing. Also found key scriptures to encourage me (see below).
Out of all the resources out there, what has been most beneficial for you and your daughters? Hurting moms was very helpful to me. I learned that I needed to set boundaries, let go and not be disappointed. I had my journey and made mistakes and now my children are in God’s hands. I must now exercise a new role of sounding board and be in prayer for them to be delivered just as I am day in and day out by God alone. I am not their savior.
There were many times in which you were a hurting mom who tried her best to help her child heal and have wholeness. What other emotions did you grapple with? I dealt with guilt for what I may have done to lead her down this path, disappointment for her choices, fear/anxiety for what was to come, and anger for my daughter living a secret life and then throwing it disrespectfully in my face.
If you met another single mom or dad who is struggling with a teen in crisis, what encouraging word would you give to them today? Open your ears to hear God’s heart concerning you and your child. You are both His children and He cares more for each of you than you can possibly care for someone. Present your fears and anxiety to God so His peace will return to you. It will! Do not isolate yourself. Get with a group or seek counsel from those who “get it”.
Thank you Lynn for sharing your story.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 (NIV)
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)
Kings will be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. They will bow down before you with their faces to the ground; they will lick the dust at your feet. Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” Isaiah 49:23 (NIV)
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3 (NIV)
Photography Credit: Hannah Busing from Unsplash