We love our children from the moment they are put into our arms. We raise them, teach them, encourage them, correct them, and give them tons of love and hugs.
Then one day, they hurt us by something they said or did. First time offense, we show forgiveness. Second offense, we begin to wonder if they understood their actions from their first transgression. By the third time, we are awakened to the fact that they DO know what they are doing and don’t care.
As parents of teens and young adults in crisis, we have many experiences of rejection, hurtful words thrown at us, property destroyed or stolen, total disrespect, physical or emotional abuse, and more. Then…something comes over us. We become resentful, disgruntled, exasperated, angry, and less loving.
Unlike God, who loves us unconditionally, we are not perfect like Him and have some form of conditions on our love. After so many hurts, we become vulnerable and susceptible to more injury of the heart which lessens the love we wholeheartedly gave them so early on.
Parents feel horrible and struggle with shame when the love for their child has weakened or even for some parents, lost. Yet at the same time, they want their relationship better and their teen healed.
So how can we renew our love for our children when we feel little or none after all that we have been through?
Recognize that we are ALL broken and hurting. Each of us is personally struggling with pain and suffering. It is not just us, but our children too.
Pray that God will give you a new love towards your teen or young adult. It’s okay to admit to God that your love is not there, it has died with all of the crises you have endured with your child. You are human and frail. Remember that there are others in this world that may not love or like you either. I am so thankful that God loves us so unconditionally. Pray that His unconditional love is transferred to your broken heart so that you can love in return those who have aches as large as yours.
Make an effort to find something in common that you and your son or daughter enjoy. Try to find things or create plans that will excite you both and bring a closer bond. It can be small scale, nothing that takes a lot of planning. Think simple, e.g. going to a game, event, favorite restaurant, movie, etc…to rebuild your relationship.
Write a letter to your child. Don’t accuse or point out all their wrongdoings or their bad behaviors. Instead, tell them how deeply saddened you are, how gifted or smart they are, what a great future they can have and how you can support them. Apologize for any areas that you were not the best as a parent. Yes, our children can be sinful and be rebellious, but we too have our own mistakes and blunders. It’s important for them to see that we are not flawless.
Stop feeling guilty. You have tried your best to help heal your child. Not all wrong choices and decisions were made by you. Your teen or young adult is old enough to make their own decisions and that includes consequences as well. Sometimes those after effects can sting and bring more problems for your child. It is something they have to learn to accept. You cannot parent them 24/7. There comes a point in which they must be accountable for their own actions. Your job is to encourage, help them find support for healing, and most importantly, pray for them. Once you have prayed for them, let God be responsible for them. You have done the best you can.
Find something healthy for you to do. We can be so consumed over our child’s issues that we have lost ourselves and blame our children for our own unhappiness. Find happiness with you first. Go to the gym, take walks, meet friends, start a hobby, go to fellowships at church, go back to school, etc… I started writing and it has been a great outlet for me to unload how I felt about my children and life in general.
Remind yourself that teens and even young adults do not understand the real meaning of love. Their body is in hormone rollercoaster stage and inundated by Hollywood and Music industry love. It’s all sexual, fake, and conditional. They lack the understanding of what real love is because despite how much love you have shown them, they still do not comprehend its meaning. They can yell words at you saying how they hate you and don’t love you, but in actuality, it is anger which motivates it for their own frustrations in life. It is NOT personal. They are still trying to figure themselves out.
Love them. Commit to say, “I love them” every day, even when you don’t feel it at first. Send messages of love to them. They may reject it, but that’s okay. Let them know you are praying for them and that God loves them despite their reactions. They will laugh at you, but again, it’s okay. Don’t give up. To love is POWERFUL. God’s love is everlasting, unconditional, pure, holy, and something you can’t buy. Even the most popular, rich, proud, and sinful person is still looking for real love. Many parents have said when they showered their child with these actions, their child rejected and made fun of them for it. In the end however, their child came back in response of this type of love and healed that relationship.
There will be times when your love doesn’t feel real and no fruit is seen from your efforts. This is the time to not give up. Your teen/young adult will be watching you very closely to see how long you will keep this going. I do promise you this….by praying, reading God’s Word, and seeing your child through God’s eyes, you will begin to see your love stirred up within you for your child. It will not happen overnight, but it will grow.
As the saying goes that Rome was not built in a day, renewed love does not appear overnight either. However, God and time is on your side. Not only will God bring your child back home in your arms, He will heal you too.
Photo by Mara Ket on Unsplash