Tag Archive for: how can I help my teen

Time to Tame the Beast in Your Teen?

Let’s face it, most of us have emotional outbursts from time to time.  Even if not openly for everyone to hear, at least internally where we tell ourselves that the person who has “hurt” us is in the wrong.  Hopefully we don’t go into this mode as often as our teens, but we do have these negative conversations.

 The question is how do we as adults deal with these experiences and move to equilibrium quickly and are we passing the right skills along to our tweens and teens to help them tame the emotional beast?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen grown adults who still haven’t learned the skills to calm their emotions.  Several years ago I witnessed an auto accident where a guy speeding in a sports car was involved.  Watching from  a distance I stared in disbelief as this man jumped out of his car raging and screaming as he ran toward the other car ranting to the other person involved.  He was totally oblivious to the state of the other person’s injuries.  The man was so emotionally charged in the moment he became an emotional beast ready to take out the individual whom he now saw as an opponent.

There is now brain research that  gives us a clue as to what is going on internally when we have those meltdowns–or sometimes shutdowns.   Most of the time those feelings will override our ability to think in a cohesive pattern causing us to go into a negative spiral.  When we go into the negative self-talk mode then the world around us becomes a dark place where we tend to emotionally vomit on someone who will listen–usually people with which we feel most comfortable around–family–or we go into our own personal inner sanctuary where we shield ourselves from the pain.

Helping our children harness those feelings by speaking truth into their lives can teach them skills that will provide a foundation for more emotional maturity.

So what are some of the things you can do as a parent when your kid comes home from school grunting as he walks past you in the kitchen, ignoring your greeting, disappearing into his room as he slams the door?

 Or what do you do when you and your child have had angry words and he shouts “I hate you!”?  

What if you see your kid punching his younger sibling or screaming words that you cannot believe are coming from his mouth?

Or you child seems to have retreated to a place where she seems to not be emotionally present?

  1. Take a deep breath and pray.  God sees your child’s pain.  Ask Him for wisdom in how to deal with this child in this moment.
  2. Give your teen space.  Every emotional outburst doesn’t need to be dealt with immediately.  I’ve coined a new catch phrase when I meet with parents.  If it isn’t a situation of life and death, choose to deal with it later–meaning after the emotion has subsided.  Even if the slammed door has come off it’s hinges or the younger sibling has a bloody nose, deal with the blood and not the emotionally charged teen.
  3. Re-engage when cooler heads prevail.  Re-engage in a safe place.  Maybe it is in the quiet of your teens room when everyone else is in bed or you take him to his favorite burger hangout or coffee shop, either way gently broach the subject without raising defensiveness in your teen.
  4. Ask your teen to do some soul searching.  What was he feeling in the moment?  What does she think triggered the outburst?  Was there ever a time he had that feeling before?  If so, what happened in the past and are those two events connected?  Research shows that anger in a given situation can sometimes be traced back to a previous event that seemed similar to the current event.  Because of that, your teen could have had a heightened emotional charge because the “feeling” was connected.  In other words, the emotional outburst was actually triggered because of what happened before–not necessarily the current situation.
  5. Help your teen become aware.  With your teens permission, come up with a way to cue your teen in on her emotional  escalation.  A simple hand gesture or funny phrase can easily raise awareness.
  6. Give you teen options for the future.  Share with your teen possible calming techniques for future situations.  Reading a book, asking someone to listen to their side without judgment (some kids process quicker if they can verbally dump their angst),  playing soft music that doesn’t further enhance their anger, or prayer and meditation are all ways to cope with negative feelings.  Your teen may find other ways that will bring calm to a given situation — a bubble bath, a chat with a friend, or doing something fun with a family member that takes their mind off the pain. Encourage your teen to tell you when they are struggling.  Even encouraging your teen to utter a simple statement such as “I’ve had a bad day and need to be alone or I need to process what happened” is a mature response that indicates they are becoming aware of their need to take control of their own emotional beasts.
  7. Share scriptures that will build confidence in your teens ability to take charge of feelings.  Most of us can allow negative thoughts to spiral out of control when our feelings run amok.  Scriptures that speak to their situation help our teens accept that the battle actually belongs to the Lord. 

2 Corinthians 10:5

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

John 8:32

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Colossians 1:22

But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—

Dare you to be pro-active in taming the emotional beast in your teens rather than being a reactive agent adding fuel to that already roaring flames.  Teach them the skills to self-sooth their hurt and anger so they can reach full emotional maturity.

“Let go…and let God”,

 Even us moms need a safe place to deal with the feelings that emerge within us as we parent during the tween and teen years.  Our With All Due Respect eCourse is a great place to share and learn from other moms. And for a limited time, it’s free! And remember that you will need a copy of the book as we go through it together.  Moms tell us all the time that they’ve learned so much and how their parenting responses have changed significantly since working through this curriculum.  “I wish I’d read this book years ago” is a common response.  We encourage you to read it and let us know what you think.  It may revolutionize your parenting.

When Your Kid Breaks Your Heart

I’ve found myself walking around in a daze all week–numb.  My kid made a choice that has the potential for major consequences and my heart is broken.  That simple act that lasted less than five minutes could possibly change the trajectory of his life.  It has already impacted mine.

Even though my heart is broken, I’ve not allowed myself to cry.  Oh, I’ve been on the verge of tears many times, but personally, when I get scared for one of my kids I typically go into mama bear mode attempting to console my teen as well as blame myself.  I’m ready to do battle with whoever tries to judge my child for their actions.

My mind goes into a spiral.

Why didn’t I see this coming?

Where is the disconnect between who I thought my teen was and this new decision?

What did I do wrong in my parenting?

Could I have prevented this from happening?

I beat myself up for having somehow failed.  And my heart is breaking for my teen.  The hasty decision, the lack of thought to consequences, and now the heavy weight that our family must carry.  In this particular situation there are serious financial implications for us.

Lord, how do we get through this in one piece?

I’ve been here before with my other kids.  Discovering one kid was having sex sent my husband into an emotional spiral.  As I talk with other parents dealing with shoplifting, lying, sneaking out, alcohol, cutting and a host of other things, they all ask the same question.  Where did I fail?   Why can’t I have good kids like the other parents I know?  I’m scared.

What I’ve learned in my own parenting is that it is important to think about the situation differently than the downward spiral our brain wants to go.

  1. God is writing our child’s testimony.  And sometimes testimonies are nothing like what we desire.  However, it is through the wrong choices that God will use your child to touch someone else’s life in the future. He’s writing their story to bring Him glory.  It is in these crucial moments that our kids wrestle with who they are.  It is in these circumstances that we as parents get to pour our belief system into these precious children that God has given us.  They may not accept our advice, but we know that we are doing something that God desires of us.
  2. God knows the circumstances and will walk through it with us and them.  When the situation seems unfathomable, we know that God is in it.  Who would have ever dreamed something like this would happen?  Right?  Yet, God is our refuge and strength.  He will walk through what might seem like the ‘valley of the shadow of death’ to us.  Cling to Him.  Let Him know your thoughts and fears.  And pray that He will walk before you paving the way for the future.
  3. Grieve.  Whatever is different from what you imagined, take time to acknowledge the sorrow and pain of the situation.  Be sure to ask God to use this circumstance in your child’s life as a step toward maturity and an avenue for future ministry.  
  4. Pull the teen in closer.  When we are hurting because our teen did something that hurt us deeply, the automatic reaction is to back away–especially for dads.  It is a way to self-protect.  However, what our teen really needs in these circumstances is our love and “we’re going to work through this together” attitude and support.  
  5. Make sure to pour into the rest of the family.  It’s easy to be so focused on “The Situation” that we forget that the circumstance is also affecting the teen’s siblings.  Be sure to have conversations finding out how the other family members are being affected.  How are they feeling?  How is this impacting them at school or in their social situations?  What do they need from you right now to get through this?
  6. Slow down and pray.  Times like these are when I find myself on my knees even more.  He is the only place I can find strength to do the next thing.  Allow yourself time to slow down the typical pace of life and think through the steps rather than be in react mode.  Allow God to lead where He desires and don’t be afraid to talk to “trusted friends” who’ve walked similar paths.  If you don’t have people in your life who can pray with you, feel free to reach out to me.  I know what it is like to feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders.  I’m here to help lighten the load.

Getting through some of these life-defining moments can be tough.  Knowing where to turn and the decisions you should make can seem overwhelming.  Knowing that there is a God who sees where we are at in the moment and who loves us and won’t forsake us can give us the strength to do the next thing.

Joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Writing to myself as well as all of you.

“Let go…and Let God”,

 

 

 

Struggling With A Teen Making Poor Choices?

Excusing herself from a Saturday morning brunch, Erin pretended a headache and left in a hurry. As she got to her car she found herself shaking so much that she was having trouble finding the right key to open the car door. Gasping for air and holding back tears, she finally found the right one and quickly unlocked the door. Safe inside the driver’s seat, she let the floodgates of despair roll down her cheeks. “These are supposed to be my friends. How can they be so cruel? Lord, where are you? What am I doing wrong?”

Needing to get away from the pain, Erin quickly exited the church parking wanting a place of solitude. Trying to think of a place where she could be alone, she steered the car onto the interstate thinking of the park a few miles away–a place to walk and pull her emotions back in check before she returned home.

Seeing the beautiful trees in bloom and the little bridge across the stream gave her a sense of calm. “I know you are here, Lord. I just need to see you and feel your presence.”

She grabbed a stack of tissues and stuffed them into her jacket pocket before she grabbed her old gym shoes from the trunk. She knew she needed better support for walking with the ground damp from yesterday’s rain. She chuckled a little at the thought that she would be adding to the dampness when her tears really started flowing.

Walking down the hill to a place where she could be alone, she found a bench overlooking the fork of the river. She allowed herself to sit and think through the conversation of the morning.

There were six of them at the table. All of them had been friends for years. They had several kids similar in age and had shared many times the antics of growing up. They had laughed about the mistakes their children had made through the years and had rejoiced together at each one’s accomplishments. But now things were different. The stakes were higher.

It all started out innocently. Barb had mentioned her daughter’s scholarship. Sharon had mentioned that her son Cory had barely missed the ACT score he was hoping for. There was banter of summer jobs the kids had acquired. After lots of laughter and catching up, the dreaded question came. “So Erin, how is Dan doing?”

“Not too much has changed. He still isn’t making the choices Sam and I would like.”

“What’s going on now?”

Erin cautiously began sharing a little bit of their latest saga with their 17 year old. All Erin remembered then was the barrage of advice. “If he were my son, then I’d  ____________.”

“I can’t believe you haven’t tried _____________.”

And then the problem solving party began. It wasn’t so much that she minded their desire to help. She knew that each of them really did want the best for all their kids. Lord only knew that she would do anything for the right advice.

She would do anything to change the situation with her son.

The problem was the invalidating way they went about it. By the time she left, she felt as if each of them was the best mother in the world and she was ‘stupid’ for not getting it right with her son.

She had overheard Margo whisper to Jan, “If she would just take our advice, she wouldn’t be in this mess.”

That’s when Erin fled the scene. How dare they judge her and pin Dan’s behavior on her.

Here she was in a group of women that had always been the best of friends, but when her teen was making poor choices, she felt their disrespect of her situation loud and clear.

“Lord, help me to cling to truth in this situation. If I truly am the source of the reason Dan is making these choices, then show me the way. Give me the tools and the wisdom to know how to respond in each situation with him.”

As the tears flowed, she continued.

“I know your word is true.”

John 16:33

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

James 1:12

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

“Lord, I know that I am not in control of the trials I will endure here on this earth. Lord, this situation with Dan is so difficult. Help me to see truth; Your truth. If I am the source of his behavior, then make it clear to me.

With each tear that fell, peace flooded her soul.

And then Erin felt a prompting that surprised her. “The closeness of your friendships is not healthy for you right now. Put boundaries around your heart through this trial. You need someone walking beside you who has been down this path; someone who is safe to talk with. You need someone who will respect you for who you are and will affirm you in this situation. There are women who have experienced your pain. They will know what you need.”

“Lord, help me find the person to walk beside me. I need them and I need you.”

Other moms don’t always understand when we’re in the middle of difficult waters with our kids.  Friendships that were once anchors in our life have the potential to pull us under and become toxic to our ability to see truth.  

Dare you to find women who have walked through similar fires and are on the other side.  How did they navigate the trials?  What worked and what didn’t?  And how did they survive the storm?  Surrounding yourself with moms who can relate to your life circumstances can be a healing salve in an otherwise harsh world.  Take care of yourself and surround yourself with women who will give you empathy and grace.  

“Let go…and let God,”

Helping Our Kids Gain Perspective

Talking with a mom the other day, I smiled realizing that she needed a dose of perspective.  It was hard for her to understand the difficulty another mother was having in raising her kids.  “If only she would __________, her son wouldn’t act that way.  It’s her own fault.  As expected, this mom espoused the virtues of how her child was better equipped because she was parenting the right way.

It’s easy to think we can parent another kid better when we have tunnel vision based on only our experience with our kid.  All kids are different, just like all of our husbands are different, and our moms are different, and we are different.  Put our different ideas, thoughts, and reactions together, and only God knows how our kids will turn out when they leave the nest.

Yes, we do the best we can and have to trust God with the outcome.  Are there things we could have done differently?  Of course.  Will we regret some of our reactions?  Probably.  But do we trust that God will work all our parenting issues out for His glory?  I hope the answer is yes–even when it turns out differently than we want.

But the question for this blog post has to do with our kids’ perspective.  How do we teach our kids to not have that same tunnel vision?  How do we teach them to think of the other person’s situation with grace and empathy?  How do we teach them to be humble when others are struggling?

At the risk of sounding too simplistic, the answer comes from helping our kids see their situations from the other person’s point of view.

Let me explain through an example.

Erin comes home from school upset at how a friend Sara treated her unfairly.  You listen patiently as your daughter goes on and on about the injustice of what happened.  Once she has finally exhausted her words and her anger is starting to dissipate and you’ve shown her the empathy she needs, you might begin asking questions to get past the emotion of her judgment.

  1. I know you are really hurting.  I’m sure I’d feel the same way if I were in your shoes.  You have every right to be upset.  Would it be okay if we talk about Sara for a few minutes?
  2. What do you think might have triggered her reaction?
  3. What do you know about Sara–her personality, her home life, her friends?
  4. Do you know if there was anything that might have set her off — maybe she started her period, or had a fight with her mom or a boyfriend?
  5. Could you have accidentally done something that made her target you with her outburst?
  6. Does she have a reason to maybe be jealous of you?
  7. How have you responded to her so far?
  8. What could you do to show her grace and show her the Jesus in you?

Ephesians 4:2-4

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.  Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.  For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.

Having these deep conversations with our kids can help them think outside their own box.  Perhaps by talking about the other person involved, they will begin to put themselves in the other person’s shoes and see something outside of their own idea of justice.  Hopefully, Erin will see that Sara needs some grace in the situation and if she were in Sara’s shoes, the world may look differently.

Just like the mom in the first story, maybe God gave her some great mothering instincts as a result of the parenting she received.  Or she is good at gleaning information from parenting books.  Maybe the other mother has a strong-willed child or one that keeps her up at night.  Perhaps she grew up without a nurturing mother and is having to learn the ropes of parenting without a healthy role model. 

It is easy to make snap judgments about another person until we know the whole story.  And teaching our kids to look beyond the surface of relationships and situations can help them gain perspective in how to extend grace rather than remain in their own world of injustice. 

Dare you to have some deep conversations with your teens when they are in situations where they want to judge the other person.  Maybe they’ll see that there is always more than one perspective.

“Let go..and Let God”,

 

Would you like a different perspective in your own parenting?  With All Due Respect is about deepening your relationship with God and your kids.  In it you’ll find real life stories about moms who have chosen to look at parenting from a different perspective.  You’ll also find questions to think through your own parenting situations. Most moms have told us that the book has stretched them in looking at parenting with the focus of a healthy launch.  Why no grab a few friends and read through the book together?  Or maybe treat you and a friend to a copy for Mother’s Day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Are You Worrying About?

As the beginning of the school year dawns a new season in our kids’ lives, maybe you are like most moms and are on the lookout for what you need to be worrying about.  I’ll admit that it is the same for me.

As my kids were finishing up those last few months of their senior year of high school, my worry meter was on high alert.  While my kids were anticipating their new freedom–heading off to college — I feared the worst.

What if I hadn’t taught them everything they needed to know to survive on their own?

What would happen when I didn’t remind them to make sure their homework was finished?

Would they get up for those 8 am freshman classes when I wasn’t there as a safety net?

Yes, I knew they could run the washing machine, but would they forget and leave their clothes in the dryer to be found by someone else–and taken?

My list was endless as I  watched the countdown until college dorm move-in began.

I found myself  becoming more and more unsure of their success.  Little things they would do would remind me of their immaturity.  The things they didn’t do were reminders of things I had failed to teach them.

And, of course, my type A personality would not let me fail.

And I found myself doing the opposite of what I should have been doing.

I went into teacher mode — nagging them about every detail of the things I thought they should be aware of before they went off on their own.

Now mind you, I didn’t see it as nagging.  I thought I was helping them develop survival skills.  But instead of nurturing the relationship, I was in hyper-vigilant mode assessing every detail of their lives under the microscope of future success.

And what my kids discovered was:

Proverbs 27:15

A constant dripping on a day of steady rain and a contentious woman are alike.

Your kids might not be heading off to college this fall, but do you find yourself constantly reminding them of things they need to do?  If so, let me ask you a question.

What are your parenting fears?  And I want to encourage you to make a list of those fears.

Once you’ve done that, ask yourself “what idol is attached to that fear?

Whether we realize it or not, all of us have dreams and expectations for our kids.  We want success to come their way. And sometimes those dreams and expectations become an idol that we consciously or unconsciously give voice to — hence we nag our kids about the things we idolize.

Do we idolize a perfectly clean room?  

Or straight A’s?

Or siblings who get along all the time?

Or perfect kids which translates to us being perfect parents?

In my case I was idolizing success for my kids as they moved off to college.  Oh my, how would I handle it if my kids dropped out?  Or turned all their tighty-whities pink in the laundry?  Or didn’t make it to all their classes?

My fears turned to a doomsday mentality as I translated my kids’ potential failures as my failure as a parent.  And it stifled our connection until I recognized the toxicity I was adding to the relationship.  

Dare you to identify your fears as you parent your tweens and teens and make course corrections before it is too late.  After all, if they do turn their underwear pink, they might call and ask for some advice on how to make sure they do their laundry right the next time.  

“Let go…and let God”, 

With the start of school, now is a great time to grab a few friends and go through With All Due Respect together.  This book will not only draw you closer to God but will hone how you think about your role as a parent.  And who knows, even if you aren’t struggling in your parenting, I’m guessing you know someone who is.  Why not take an opportunity to connect with this mom and help her with a difficult season in her life?  After all, none of us get it right 100% of the time.  To start your group now, click here.