It’s Complicated: Parenting Older Children
a The Kids & Me contributor
The past four years have been the most challenging. A lack of
sticking with family rules and creating boundaries has caused more
stress and heartache than necessary - not only with our teenager, but
with our marriage. Differences in parental views and clashes with
personality traits have kept my husband and me in conflict. But in the
past several months, God has been bringing us into agreement
helping us to change and grow in these areas. We’ve been constantly
seeking His wisdom and communicating with one another finding
solutions on which we we agree to raise our teen in a healthier way. We’ve
had to be firm following through with consequences. One of those
consequences resulted in our teen’s vehicle being taken away. Our challenge
was keeping silent during our teen’s subsequent outburst or at other
times walking away to avoid reacting out of intense emotions.
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:19-20 ESV).
Some of the issues we’ve dealt with in parenting our teen are the same ones
we went through with our other children. But some of them are ones we
never thought we’d encounter. Depression and anger (beyond the norm of
fluctuating hormones), the risk of being a high school dropout, one too
many speeding tickets, the use of illegal substances…have overwhelmed us - and especially me. Personal issues of anxiety and trauma have made these experiences harder to cope with. A particular struggle is waiting to see our teenager turn back to God and be saved. Until then, I’ll continue to pray, asking for peace and comfort
as I entrust all our children to Him.
Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will guard your heart and mind through Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:6-7 TPT).
But since we’ve chosen to follow God's lead, life has gradually
continued to change for the better within our family and
individually. Our teen has been happier and overall healthier. And
our marriage has greatly improved in many areas. I’m so thankful
for the hope, trust, and perseverance God has given me to not give
up. To love and to forgive.
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you (2 Corinthians 13:11 NIV).
Struggles with parenting, however, go beyond the teenage years.
I’ve been searching for the right balance when it comes to my adult
children. Even though they’ve left home, I worry about reaching out
too often, afraid of smothering them instead of giving them their
space. Or I worry about not reaching out enough, making them feel as if I don’t
care as much. I’ve also worried about sparking conversations yet not
wanting to sound like an interrogator, or knowing when to say 'yes',
and when to say 'no'.
My husband and I have always been ready to help. But I worry if we
have overdone it at times. What if our financial help, babysitting,
spare room…have become unhealthy dependencies? My mother’s
heart and being empathetic in general has made this very
challenging. Yet, with God’s help, we’ve been learning how to show
constant support and encouragement to our children without
enabling them to be irresponsible. We do our best, anyway. As any
loving parent, we want them to become strong, secure, and well
My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction. What you learn from them will crown you with grace and be a chain of honor around your neck. My child, if sinners entice you, turn your back on them! (Proverbs 1:8-10 NLT).
Though we’ve experienced a plethora of exhaustion,
discouragement, and stress throughout our parenting adventures,
God’s guidance and support have made it more achievable to be
better parents. More stable and healthier ones at that.
If you’re looking for some good books on parenting, here’s a couple
you may find helpful:
“Love, Pray, Listen: Parenting Your Wayward Adult Kids With Joy”
by Mary E. DeMuth. It releases next month on September 6, 2022. I’m reading an advanced copy and have highlighted almost every page because of the relatability concerning the author’s parenting struggles along with others. It’s filled with great encouragement and personalized prayers as well. I highly recommend this book already!
“Boundaries with Teens” by Dr. John Townsend is another good find. I’m almost halfway through the book. And so far, it’s been helpful. It covers a
variety of topics, and, like the first book, it covers personal stories from the author and other parents.
Be sure to reach out to others who have traveled the parenting road ahead of you via friends, mentors, or authors for encouragement, inspiration, and wisdom. You don't have to do this alone.