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Mothering Teenagers: A Navigational Guide for Turbulent Times

Written by Lora Baughey on

As much as I loved snuggling my newborns, I’ve welcomed the emerging maturity in my teenage kids. I’ve beamed with pride as my eldest son works with his hands to turn pallets to treasure. I’ve wept tears of joy as I’ve watched my daughter overcome the heartache and struggles of foreign adoption. I’ve been constantly amazed by the raw talent that oozes out of most everything my second son puts his mind to do. And my heart has swelled to see my youngest daughter look for ways that she can help her disabled peers and include the less popular kids at school.

But, for all of the pride and joy I’ve experienced, I’ve also grieved bitterly over their repeated sins. During these times of crisis, I’ve wrestled with just about every possible wrong response. But God, who is rich in mercy, has been teaching me a better way.

Remember that prayer is paramount.

Pray first.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6

I admit, that in times of crisis, my first response is often anxiety. Over time, this spirit of fear causes hope to wither and allows despair to take root instead. But, I’ve learned that when I choose to pray first, that act of dependence softens my response, strengthens my resolve and restores my soul.

Pray big.

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16b

“For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Mathew 17:20b

God hears and answers us when we pray. And, the prayer of faith moves mountains. So, go ahead and ask the impossible! God can melt even the hardest heart of stone if we but trust Him.

Pray continually.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Mothers, forget the spa treatments; we need calloused knees! This bowing of the heart is what makes change possible. So, keep on keeping on. And if your grief takes you to the point where words fail, then simply lean into the Spirit who intercedes for you with groanings too deep for words. (Romans 8:26)

Live in community, seeking counsel when needed.

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” Proverbs 12:15

“For by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.” Proverbs 24:6

When our children begin to self-destruct, the desire to protect either their reputation or our own (pride, shame) is strong. This protective stance may tempt us into isolation, a condition my friends and I like to refer to as “turtling”. Frustration, stress, exhaustion and depression, which can all accompany turbulence, make it all the more easy to retreat into our proverbial shells. Beware of this trap! Without community, we are virtually defenseless against the attacks of the enemy.

Let discretion be your guide – always. But, with discretion, take your concerns to a trusted counselor, friend or small group of believers where you know you will receive prayer, encouragement and sound advice. Remember, Moses may have held the staff in his own hands, but without Aaron and Hur lifting up his arms, Israel would have lost the battle. (Exodus 17:8-13)

Love them back to repentance.

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

“And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them.” Luke 15:12

“…God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.” Romans 2:4

It’s good to remind yourself that you are battling the enemy, not your child when you face turbulent times. Once you’ve prayed and sought godly counsel, then you’ll be better prepared to respond to your child in love. When blatant disrespect and willful disobedience are what you’re up against, you may be tempted to try to forcefully regain control. But, when your ultimate goal is winning your child’s true repentance, you must decide to remain in control of your own spirit by offering instead your consistent, pursuing, arms-wide-open love. After all, isn’t that the way Jesus Christ won you?

If this Mother’s Day finds you weary from navigating heavy turbulence with your teen, then know that you have been in my prayers. Remain steadfast in your resolve to pray, to seek godly counsel, and to love unconditionally. Then, entrust your child, yet again, to the Lord of the Harvest who remains faithful through the storm.

Lora Baughey

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