Finding Help As A Parent Of Teens
by Chris Sasser
There have been many times that, as a parent of teenagers, I have been totally lost when it comes to knowing what to do. I have found myself deep into an argument with my daughter (that I likely started) or at a loss when it comes to motivating my son. I have gone down the wrong road over and over again, hoping that somehow something in my kids would change and we would find ourselves in a better place. Because of either my pride or laziness (or both), I have often defaulted to the “I’ll figure it out as I go” mentality. After all, I’m pretty good at solving problems and plotting out the next steps. Too many times, I’ve had to come to the harsh reality that this strategy rarely works, and it has rarely yielded the results I wanted.
I know I need help as a parent. I have often said, “These little guys and girls don’t come with instruction manuals, and they don’t stay little for long.” Things are constantly moving and changing, both in the hearts and minds of my teens and in the culture around them. I need to find ways to grow and learn as a parent if I’m going to both maintain my sanity and help my kids grow into the man and woman I pray they will become. If you can relate at all, I would encourage you to consider doing a few things that will help you be a better parent and help your family step into all that God has for you.
Follow Trusted Voices: In the world of social media and “influencers” there actually are a lot of people out there who have good things to say. In a world of specialization, you can find people who are spending lots of time thinking through the specific characteristics of today’s teens and analyzing cultural and social trends. Many of these voices have practical and helpful suggestions, and they share them with the world regularly. You can find a way to get a regular dose of help and encouragement from people who know what they are talking about.
Listen To Parenting Podcasts: Speaking of voices, there are a lot of parenting podcasts that focus on things like navigating technology and social media, helping your kids learn finances, and working through anxiety and depression. Many of the trusted voices referenced above have a way to actually share their voice on a podcast, and they have great guests who give helpful insight. If you like to listen to other people talk and work out solutions, find a podcast that can help you become a better parent.
Read Parenting Books: There is definitely no shortage of Christian parenting books on the market today. New concepts and ideas are introduced each month, and old classics are still viable and helpful. Sometimes, taking the time to sit down with a book and digest the written word helps us take more time to process what we are learning. Grab a book that deals with a topic that is relevant to your parenting and set aside the time you need to read it. As you read, I would recommend having some paper and a pen handy so you can record any thoughts that come to mind as you reflect on how to become a better parent.
Find Blogs And Articles To Read: Speaking of reading, we don’t always have time to sit down and curl up with a good book. But we do often have short spurts of time when we can pick up an idea or a nugget. There are lots of great blog sites where leaders and pastors share articles that can help you as a parent. Again, find a few trusted voices who are consistent in their posting, and grab a few moments here and there to read a short article that speaks to your situation.
Talk To Other Parents (at your church?): There is often no better resource than the people we are around. Talking through issues and struggles with peers can often be just the medicine we need as we sort out what to do in a given situation. Hopefully, you have friends at church who you can talk to and honestly share with. Find ways to be in both formal groups and informal conversations with other parents who are either in the same season of life and parenting or just ahead of you. You can frequently find the wisdom and support you need from people who are going through (or have been through) some of the same things you have. These people can help you see things you might not see and offer the prayer support that you need.
Get Counseling If You Need It: There have been moments in our parenting journey where we (and our kids) needed some more focused and expert help. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel like you need some clinical help, find it. Counseling can be incredibly helpful when you are stuck, and you know you cannot work through issues on your own. If you don’t know where to find a trusted counselor or if you feel like you can’t afford it, reach out to a pastor or leader at your church for help with the next steps. Becoming mentally healthier in the midst of family life is incredibly important, so seek out the guidance you need as you navigate your struggles.
When we run into something in life that we can’t handle or need more assistance with, we typically seek out some level of help or guidance. We do it at work. We do it in our finances. We do it in our relationships. Heck, we even do it in our hobbies. If we take some time to really think it through, we know that we should do it in our parenting. If we are going to be the parents God has called us to be, we need to be learning and growing, seeking to both understand our teens and how they think and understand the world and its influences that are coming their way. We need to be true disciples of Jesus, showing our teenagers what it looks like to follow God and live for Him each and every day. We need to admit that we need help in our parenting journey and then do everything we can to find it.