I’m in the throes of my hardest parenting journey to date. I feel like I need to find a support group. “Hello, my name is Jen, and I’m the mom to two teenagers.” “Hi Jen,” comes the response in an “I’m not envious of your life at all” sort of way. Parenting teenagers is hard, really hard. Emotions are all over the place, so you never know what you’re going to get. You have to learn to transition your relating to them from children to young adults even though they teeter totter between the two. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t usually do this well which is why I have to find my strength in Jesus.
And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
I’ve always loved this verse, because it reminds me that God wants to be my strength. I don’t have to go it alone. I can trust Him fully and completely.
Matthew 14 is a good depiction of how I often feel in this season of parenting. It’s the passage where Jesus walks on water. Peter boldly says in verse 28, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” He does, but once Peter sees the chaos around him, he starts to sink. In that moment, he cries out, “Lord, save me!”
That’s me. I felt armed and ready for parenting teenagers. However, when my ideals started to cave in around me, I felt like I was sinking, drowning. When I look at the waves and feel the wind lapping my face and try to rely on my own thinking and strength, I drown. I love what Jesus does when Peter asks Him to save him. Verse 31 says He immediately reached down and grabbed Peter’s hand. He was there at the waiting and after He pulled him up, He asked why he ever doubted Him. It’s in those moments that trusting in God and leaning on His strength that I can carry on. The good news is that Jesus is there waiting for me to trust Him!
More often than not, I find myself saying, “I can’t do this!” It’s true. I can’t. At least not on my own. I need my Savior to lovingly guide me, prompt me when I’m losing my patience, and remind me to walk in love. That’s the second learning in this journey. First, relying on Jesus, and second, learning to love unconditionally and to enjoy this season of life. I don’t want to simply survive and miss out on really enjoying being a mom to teenagers.
I recently read I Can’t Believe You Just Said That by Ginger Hubbard. She literally covers every struggle that we as parents face when it comes to raising kids of all ages. While she has great insight into each one (from yelling, bragging, and aggravating, to name a few) including practical ways to handle them, what struck me most is how she continually takes you back to God’s word and challenges you to lovingly get to the heart of the matter. There’s my two challenges again…reliance on Jesus and His word and unconditional love.
Ginger says, “It is never enough to tell kids what not to do; we must teach them what to do.” That doesn’t end when they become teenagers. I thought that if I taught them all these things when they were young, they would know how to act. That ideal was shattered, and as I started drowning, I had to yell for Jesus to save me. The fact is that they need us more than ever. The challenge is that everything in their being wants to push against it as they try to prove themselves. If I don’t continually find my strength in The Source and learn to love them through this very difficult transition from child to young adult, then I feel I will be cheating them on being the avenue God wants to use to train them.
Are you the parent of teenagers? What has been the best thing you’ve learned along the way to parent them?