As parents, we don’t always understand our teens and their choices.  It’s important for us to remember our teens are getting ready to become adults and this stage isn’t an easy or smooth process.  However, some teens get stuck and feel deeply troubled along the way.  If you are struggling with relating to your troubled teen, take a minute to reflect on some of these important questions…

Is my troubled teen emotionally withdrawn from me? 

Emotional withdrawal is when your teen refuses to talk to you about anything significant in their lives.  Tends to seek out other teens or adults for support and care.

Do my teen and I trust and respect each other? If not, what prevents us from having a trusting and respectful relationship?

Trust is the most basic and essential element of any relationship.  Trust occurs when words and actions line up.  Respect occurs when we hold a person in the highest possible regard.

When I try to spend time with my teen, does he/she want to avoid me or make excuses not to spend time with me?

This is a clear sign your teen doesn’t trust and/or feel respected by you.

Has anything significantly changed in my teen’s life which is adversely affecting my relationship with him/her?

It’s important to be willing to reflect on any life changing events that have caused harm or damage to your teen and the relationship they have with you.

Are you or your troubled teen unwilling to forgive something in the past that’s causing harm in your relationship now?

It’s important to take a fearless inventory of your own actions to understand how your teen is responding to you.  Food for thought…2 Corinthians 9:6, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”  Be sure to sow love and patience with your teen.

Do I praise my teen for who they are rather than what they do?

Look at Galatians 5:22-23.  Seek out the character of your teen.  Don’t just praise your teen about how well he/she does in school, sports, with friends, or with their chores.  Share your heart when you notice them practicing the Fruits of the Spirit. For example, instead of saying, “You did a great job on your grades this semester”; try, “You really persevered over this semester with your school work.  It was so impressive to see you keep trying even though it was difficult.”

What can I do to get my troubled teen help?

Remember helping your troubled teen doesn’t involve buying love with gifts or giving money.  It takes work with a trusted pastor or counselor who can help facilitate reconciliation to foster a revitalized and stronger relationship.   It takes discernment and a willing heart to see if you AND your teen are willing to bring about a restorative relationship.  You can’t do this alone and time doesn’t heal old wounds.

Sally Groff

About Sally Groff

Sally Groff is the Clinical Director at Groff & Associates and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She has 16 years of passionate work with children, adolescents, couples, and families, in dealing with relationship issues, trauma, grief, and loss. Sally loves Jesus and her family, enjoys puttering around in her garden, and having at least one good belly laugh per week.

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