Thirteen years ago I was struggling as a parent. I grew up with the lie that every problem could be solved and if it impacted me then it was my problem to fix. The reality that I wasn’t supermom hit hard and shattered me to the core.
I wish I had known my new friend Dena Yohe during that period of time. She has such wisdom as the parent of a struggling child. As I read her book, You Are Not Alone: Hope for Hurting Parents of Troubled Kids, I felt like I was reading my own story. I knew that she would be a “safe” person to share my pain. I love how she can see God in the midst of the struggle.
Dena is co-founder of Hope For Hurting Parents.com; blogger, former pastor’s wife, and CRU affiliate staff. She and her husband Tom have been guests on Family Talk with Dr. James Dobson, Family Life with Dennis Rainey, and Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. She’s the proud mom of three adult children and loves being Mimi to her grandchildren.
If you are a hurting parent, I hope this will bring you hope.
Here are words from Dena:
“I give up. I can’t do this. It’s too hard! I’m not strong enough. It’s beyond me. I need help!” This was how I felt about the weeds and plants behind our screened in patio. They’d taken over. They had to go. But I didn’t have the ability to remove them myself. Their roots were too strong and too deep for me to dig up. I couldn’t manage it. I tried hard—so did my husband. Neither of us could tackle the job. We were exasperated.
To be honest, this is how I felt about one of my children. I’ve said many of these things to myself about her. You may have felt this way about one of yours. Maybe today you’ve almost given up.
It’s awful to admit we feel this way about our own flesh and blood, but sometimes we do. When they abuse drugs or alcohol, steal from us, lie to us, disrespect us, can’t stop hurting themselves, have a mental illness but refuse help, make repeated suicide attempts, break the law or are involved in a same-sex relationship, it’s hard not to despair.
Over time, anger builds up. For some of us cruel words have been spoken on both sides. We’re guilty of hurting one another. Our other children can become bitter and resentful. Their troubled brother or sister took us away from them. They feel robbed. It’s not fair—although they may never tell us. They don’t want to cause us more pain. But they’re right. It wasn’t fair.
We’ve tried repeatedly to help our child, draining the family’s financial resources. We’ve also invested large amounts of time and energy attempting to save them.
Yet nothing has worked.
It’s understandable to want to give up. But how can we? This is our child!
These are the 6 reasons I never gave up:
- Because God is a big God—bigger and greater than our child’s problems. He’s the Sovereign King of the universe who’s in complete control of all things. Nothing is impossible for Him.
- Because God cares and understands—more than we can comprehend. He cared enough to give his son, Jesus, to die for them.
- Because God is all-powerful—it’s never too late for them to change. They can get better and recover. They can stop their addictive behavior; the stealing and deceiving. They can get help and find their way back to wholeness, to a healthy relationship with you and most of all, with their Creator.
- Because nothing is too hard for God—He can do what no man, no counselor, no psychiatrist or rehab can do. He can transform a sinner into a saint; the lost into the found. The sick can be healed. Hard hearts can be softened. Stubborn souls can surrender. The dead can be raised to life. If God resurrected Jesus to give us eternal life, then what can he not do?
- Because God loves your child with an everlasting love—even more than you. He’s crazy about them and will do whatever it takes to reach them. But he won’t force them to respond.
- Because God wants you to trust Him—even though things may look hopeless at this moment. As you bring your child to Him, He can bring something very, very good out of something very, very bad. He’s still with them. He’ll never leave.
At my lowest point, I received an astonishing phone call. My daughter had finally agreed to go into rehab! I never thought it would happen. I’d almost given up. In moments of despair, a dear friend would often encourage me with these words,
“As long as your child is still breathing, there is still hope.”
Yes, dear parent, there is.
“May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. May he send you help . . . and grant you support . . . may he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed . . . may the Lord grant all your requests . . . Some trust in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God . . . we rise up and stand firm” (Psalm 20:1-5, 7).
Great and loving God, when I feel like giving up, help me remember these things and keep trusting you with my child. I’ll hold on to hope because of who you are.
In your life-giving name. Amen.
Write down these six things on a piece of paper or print them out. Put it where you can see them the next time you feel tempted to give up and stand firm in the Lord!
Dena sums it up well.
“Let go…and Let God”,
If your teen is just starting to dabble in the areas Dena mentions, I would encourage you to start with our book With All Due Respect: 40 Days to a More Fulfilling Relationship with Your Teens and Tweens. In the book you will have opportunity to take a parenting assessment and find ways to rebuild the relationship with your difficult teen. If your teen needs intervention, Tom and Dena provide hope for parents who need to make difficult choices. Be sure to check out their website.