My heart breaks for parents who are struggling with their teens. Most have us have had those fleeting thoughts of “I just wish they would move out”, but we quickly come to our senses. Sometimes we think that it would be easier if they were gone, but we know deep down that they aren’t ready and we realize that we still have a legal and moral responsibility to our children until our teens reach the age of adulthood. And most of the time whatever we are experiencing is just a phase that will dissipate in a matter of time and maturity.
But I too know that sometimes parents get to a place where they feel like they are just biding their time and being held hostage until they can kick their teens out. These are the tough parenting trenches where it feels like hope is lost and we can’t seem to find our way. This is when we’ve tried everything and nothing seems to work. Defiance, wrong choices, broken rules, and an attitude of “you can’t tell me what to do” can bring parents to a breaking point and destroy a family.
I’ve been asked many times how to discern if the time is right to actually pull the trigger and push them out of the nest.
Because I have been there.
Trust me when I say that making that decision is not trivial. It needs to be prayerfully considered not based on what we feel but based on what is right for the entire family. Know that it can have potential to affect your relationship for a lifetime and should be well executed and not done in the heat of a battle. How our kids perceive our action can have negative consequences that can affect their future in many ways. It can also have lasting impact on siblings and even ourselves if not handled in a well thought out and respectful way.
For us personally, thankfully, we had the coaching of a wise counselor who walked us through the process when we were at the end of our rope. We were careful to make the process a choice rather than an action foisted upon our wayward teen. It took time, thought, and deep introspection on our part as to whether or not we could or should go through with it. In the end, the execution of the action resulted in a decision with which we could all live–not just my husband and I, but each member of our family.
So what are some questions you and your spouse might want to ask yourselves to see if this is really a path you should even consider heading down?
- How old is your child and how long would you have to endure until they are ready to function as an adult on their own? Our counselor told us that for most kids that would be somewhere between the ages of 18 and 21 based on maturity, whether they could keep a job, and their potential of finding a place to live.
- What impact is this teen’s actions having on siblings? Perhaps there is bullying involved, or sharing of too much information on more mature topics such as sex, drugs, stealing, or other inappropriate character issues. Is this teen dragging siblings down the wrong path with them? If so, the future of younger siblings could potentially be in danger.
- Are you and your spouse on the same page? If not, don’t do it. And here’s why. If the two of you are at odds with an action that involves your teen, then maybe you should be focusing on your marriage. I know that might seem like a harsh statement; however, taking such a strong stance without your spouse’s buy-in will most likely lead to more marital stress and distrust. If something goes wrong, it will be natural to blame the other person.
- Are there drugs or alcohol involved that are impacting the teens reasoning? As parents we have the authority to help our kids through counseling and even inpatient programs. This should be our first step prior to any thought of kicking our kids out.
- Have you tried counseling or intervention? Sometimes an outside perspective can help both your teen and you. Our counselor refused to see our teen without seeing my husband and I together. This gave him a more objective view and he was able to open our eyes to things we weren’t seeing. Some counselors work in pairs. One counselor works with the teen while another counselor works with the parent and these counselors work in tandem on a weekly basis to move the family forward.
- Does the situation and the potential risk of not moving the teen out of your home outweigh the potential consequences and fallout from the action? In other words, is there more potential for harm to your other kids and you if you don’t take this action?
- Can you live with the potential consequences? Kicking our kids out of the house has emotional baggage for our kids and for us. Ask yourself: How would I feel if this child never spoke to me again? How would I feel if this child was living on the streets? How would I feel if for some reason this child died? Could I live with myself if something horrific happened as a result of my action?
I know that this is a heavy subject for most parents, but it seems that the questions are coming up more and more. If you are wondering what you can possibly do to move your teen forward, feel free to reach out. I’ve been coaching parents through the process for several years. And I’m happy to say, that as of today, not one parent has actually had to kick their kid out.
There is hope.
1 Thessalonians 5:21
But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good
Next week I’ll walk you through a process that will ease your mind if you determine that it is time to change the locks and force your child to grow up. Until then, know that I’m praying for those that are facing these decisions of heartache. I’m here if you need me.
“Let go…and Let God”,