Parents of teens need hope in launching teenagers

5 things parents of teens need to hear

Are you in the “launching” season of parenting? During this time, parents of teens need more encouragement than ever. Inside: Hope and inspiration tailored just for you during this hard season!

When I was a young mom, I loved the “What to expect” series, adding “What to expect when you’re expecting,” to my library as soon as the doctor confirmed it was real. I had the book memorized by the time I was no longer expecting.

We expanded our collection to include “… the first year; … the second year; … the toddler years,” and that’s where they stop. I think we could have used another book in the series: What to Expect When You’re Launching.

That time period when your teen begins pulling away and preparing to “do it myself.” (Much like when they were two, but with bigger things at stake.)
It continues as they test their wings through high school and then actually fly the proverbial coop to college or whatever young adulthood holds.

It is during this time that you realize your level of control is inversely proportional to the enormity of the consequences. Dr. James Dobson describes the ages 16-26 as the “critical decade.” (Life on the Edge)

There’s not much out there to prepare you for the wave of emotions and mental gymnastics you may find yourself experiencing.

“Find Your Wings” by Mark Harris is built on this tear-jerking line, “Let my love give you roots. And help you find your wings.”
Roots and wings.
What a paradox.
It’s illogical. Inconsistent. Incongruent.
And so it’s the perfect description of this time of life and the emotions that tag along.
“I’ll have tears as you take off, but I’ll cheer as you fly,” is one of the final lines of the song. Again. Perfect.

This season of launching is not easy, but it is worth every bit of prayer and patience and perseverance that you invest. Here’s a snippet of what I would include if I wrote that book.


Raising teenagers is not for the faint of heart! Whether it's graduation, college, or navigating the parenting of young adults, you need hope. Parent encouragement quotes, parents of teens tips, Scripture-based encouragement for Christian parents

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5 things to know about Launching

1. This is hard

The previous post in this series was devoted to these three words.
I had to separate it out because this really was turning into a book.

You can read more of that “chapter” here: Why Raising Teenagers is Hard ~ A message of Hope.

2. You will second-guess yourself and never feel like you had enough time

Your mind and your memory will be your own worst enemy as you call into question decisions and choices. Your list of regrets will grow as you watch the remaining time shrink and you’ll beg the clock to slow down and give you more time to get it right.

Despite all that this parenting journey has taught you about how NOT in control you are, you still believe that A + B must equal C to some extent … and it’s up to you to solve the equation.

But here’s the deal: It’s not all up to you and it’s not all about you. They were given to you, but they aren’t yours.
And they aren’t children anymore.

God uses the less-than-perfect,
the poor choices,
and the outright failures
to develop character in His children.
This applies to your parenting and to your teens.

And finally, all the time and all the perfect parenting choices would not change this fact: You are launching an adult who is responsible for his or her own decisions.

3. You may wonder if your sacrifices were worth it

It goes like this.
I gave up ____.
I could have been a _____.
Do they even realize how much I sacrificed?

Remember how much you didn’t know before you had kids? Remember how much more you didn’t know before you had teens? You didn’t get it then and they don’t get it now.

But whether or not they ever get it does not determine whether it was worth it.

And you know that.
It’s not that you really wonder about the ROI.
It’s that we all have this need to be appreciated. To be needed.
And at this stage of life, both of those seem to be in short supply.

At the time you made those sacrifices, you recognized this was the most important thing you would ever do – and no one could take your place doing it. That’s why you did it. That’s why you would do it again. Yes, you would.

And your children will return to say ‘thank you’ one day.
It might not be until they have teens of their own, but they will.

And even if they don’t, you are still in good company. After all, your heavenly Father has made a sacrifice that millions will never say thank you for.

4. You will think they don’t need you anymore

I know it seems this way, with their independence on the rise and their view of the relevance of your knowledge on the decline. But they need you even more, just not in the obvious ways they used to.

When they were young and fell down, you rushed in to pick them up, inspect the damage, and doctor the bobo.
Now, you can’t rush in.
In general, you wait for them to come to you.
(Although there are definitely times when you still need to go PICK.THEM.UP.)

You become the lighthouse as they venture out on those rough waters.
You are their compass, whether they admit it or not.
You set the example of what peace in the middle of the storm looks like.
And you stay, holding down the fort – always available because they need to know where to find you.

Sometimes, all they need is to know you are there.
Sometimes, they just need you to listen as they sort through their feelings and options.
Sometimes they need you to “lead the witness” and help them reach the right verdict.
Sometimes, they need your help in making it right or getting it done.

Knowing the difference is called wisdom.
You know where the source of wisdom is, right?
Ask. Seek. Knock.

Hold God to His promise that He will supply all your needs, including the wisdom and understanding of how to walk beside and behind since walking in front is rarely your place anymore.

5. Your heart may break

From things as small as rejecting your ways to issues as monumental as rejecting their faith, the opportunities for heartbreaking conversations and gut-wrenching choices are pretty limitless.

There’s so much to say about this.
But this is a blog and not a book, and others have covered this subject so much better than I ever could.
Here’s a Scripture-rich resource that I highly recommend:
“Advice to Parents of Wayward Older Children”
(This content was previous available on the pastor’s own website. After he archived his writing, he sent me the full document to distribute here. I am deeply grateful to Pastor Kevin Pauley for his graciousness and wisdom.)

In the middle of the heartbreak – however big or small – keep your perspective in check:

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Your children do not define your worth.

Oh, did I say that already?
Good. It bears repeating.

Even God the perfect Father has children who break His heart. Some by periodic attempts to “do it myself” and rebuff His perfect ways and some by lifelong decisions to reject His ultimate sacrifice.
Can you do better than our Sovereign Lord?

You can’t call it yet

Regardless of where you are in the launch countdown, it’s important to remember that if you want a happy ending, it depends on where you stop the story.

Or, in the words of my wise husband: “You can’t call it yet.”
He and I have talked about this a lot lately.
It applies to the good times and the bad times.

If you find yourself in the middle of calm instead of chaos, I hope you are reminded what an absolute gift that is. With every breath, whisper praise and thanksgiving – and even shout it at appropriate times.

But if you are struggling in conflict or doubting yourself and decisions or … MERCY … praying for a teen or young adult to return to the faith you thought you imparted, then take HOPE.

It’s not over. There’s time for a comeback — a surprise play.

You serve the God of the Resurrection — A Father who hears your prayers, who watches for the prodigal, and who works through trials to bring beauty from ashes.

He is more than able.
Hallelujah and Amen.

Book Recommendations:

{This post contains affiliate links for your convenience and to support this blog. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.}

Five of these books are still on our bookshelves. Most of them are tattered from loaning them out over and over.

We used Life on the Edge as the basis for a Junior High retreat. It’s SO good!

Yes, the books are older. If you want advice on restricting cell phone usage or limiting internet time, there are plenty of blog posts out there. But if you’re looking for well-seasoned advice that speaks to the heart of the issues, these are the books I recommend.

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Parenting today's adolescent

[/x_block_grid_item][x_block_grid_item]Life on the Edge - parenting teens[/x_block_grid_item][x_block_grid_item]Why do they act that way? Parenting teens[/x_block_grid_item][/x_block_grid]

[x_block_grid type=”three-up”][x_block_grid_item]5 love languages of teens[/x_block_grid_item][x_block_grid_item]Age of Opportunity[/x_block_grid_item][x_block_grid_item]Parenting teens with love and logic [/x_block_grid_item][/x_block_grid]

Why do they act that way is NOT Christian, but I have loaned and recommended it to many junior high parents looking to get a little understanding into the changing world of teens.

Parenting Teens with Love & Logic is worth checking out, but it’s not a personal recommendation. I’ve heard good things about it and place it here for you to check out.

[button shape=”rounded” size=”large” href=”” title=”Parenting Teens and Beyond” info_content=”” lightbox_caption=”” id=”” class=”” style=””]Keep Reading: More Posts Like This[/button]

Launching teenagers into young adulthood is not for the faint of heart.
Parenting teens is hard.
You’ll be reminded you’re not alone in this stage.

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Making Life & Words Count!


13 responses to “5 things parents of teens need to hear”

  1. L Hall Avatar
    L Hall

    Angela Martin….I could use that t shirt. Love my 18 year old daughter…she really needs that shirt… and I needed to see it must be normal. Great blog. I despirately needed today.

    1. Christi Avatar

      We moms have to stick together, right? And occasionally remind each other we’re not crazy. :)

  2. Kristy Avatar

    Wow, I believe this is the first time I’ve ever commented on a blog post of someone I don’t know! But I just couldn’t navigate away from your blog without saying “thank you”! Thank you so much for taking time to write these words of strength and hope to all of us out here trying to get through the teen years with our sanity intact! Your words have been such a blessing to me on this roller coaster day. My oldest (a boy) is 16, and I have a 14 year old girl, a 10 year old girl, and an 8 year old girl. I feel myself exhausted trying to navigate this new and strange teen land. I’m like a boxer in the ring with a blindfold on, wondering when the next punch will land and from what direction. I know nothing about anything! That’s the one thing I know!! Well, anyway. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will be re-reading and pondering these thoughts for a long time to come.

    1. Christi Avatar

      You do a great job of describing the landscape and accompanying feelings in this uncharted territory. No one warned us about these years when we brought those snuggly angels home from the hospital :)

      But God …

      Cling to His promises and His wisdom during this time and you’ll eventually emerge on the other end. I testify to that truth.

      Thank you for being here and taking the time to let me know this encouraged you. That is priceless for me.

  3. s peterson Avatar
    s peterson

    Oh my gosh I can’t tell you how much I needed to read this today. My son is 22 and on the autism spectrum so functionally he’s about 14. These last few weeks he has started to pull away….questioning and debating everything. The urge to shut him down has been so strong. The energy it takes to “ir”rationally discuss something is exhausting and yet seeing him put the pieces together and start to see patterns of logic has been worth it. Today for the first time In his life he planned and shopped for all of his own meals. I looked at what he planned for meals…ramen, lunchable, can of soup…..and wanted to laugh and correct….I didnt. He went with his aid to the store and bought everything on his list….it will be interesting to see how meal time goes this week…when I’m eatting a steak and he has ramen…..he’s finally starting to fly, I’m terrified and thrilled. There were so many days over the last 22 years that I really wondered if he would ever make it. I love your husband’s advice…it’s not over yet. My husband would have said the same words! I will be reading this posting over and over again……!!!

    1. Christi Avatar

      You bless me with your story. I’m on the other side of wherever rooting for you and your son as I read your words.

      Yes, those words “You can’t call it yet” rang in my ears often during our hard days. I was thankful for a husband who was an anchor. It sounds like you have your own anchor ~ what a gift!

      Thank you for being here and taking the time to let me know this resonated. It’s why I write.

      Blessings on your journey!


  4. Angela Martin Avatar

    Oohh boy! This August we drive 12 hours, shove her out of the car into the merciless arms of strangers and never see her again. Well, not quite but she, a rather dependent girl, is about to go drive two roommates crazy until Christmas. And I have to let go of control. She is a hard worker (well, sometimes!) but I utilized a whole lot of mom technique to get my ADHD, dyslexic, somewhat socially-challenged daughter through high school and now she is on her own. I am so thankful she will be in a Christian environment with Christian roommates (already stalked their Twitter & Facebook feeds!) but still…Thanks so much for this. I’m saving it, rereading it and going back to read the other half!

    1. Christi Avatar

      This comment made me laugh out loud. I would love to have coffee with you in person, as I bet you talk a “mile a minute.” Just stopped by your place to know more about you and found the Texas connection. Will certainly love getting to know you better!

      1. Angela Martin Avatar

        I just came back across this post in a really roundabout sort of way. And I really needed it. Again. I recently saw a T-shirt that said the following: “Don’t ask me about my grades, or college, or job, or relationship status, or weight. Actually, just don’t talk to me, okay.
        I was nice enough not to give it to her for her birthday.

      2. Christi Avatar

        Each time we cross paths, your words make me laugh out loud. Keep the humor going through this stage ~ it’s your greatest weapon!

        Great to “see” you again!

  5. Ruthie Gray Avatar

    I love Mark Harris! And I’ve heard that song. More than once, I’ll confess. And no, you can’t call it yet – love that.
    So much to mull over here, your thoughts are so deep and well written.
    ROI. I am so not anywhere near a mathematical kind of person. So yeah, I was like, “I’m googling.” Thanks for that. I let hubs do most of that kind of thinking and planning for me. But I do get the concept! ;) And yes, they do still need us and they come back.
    I can NOT believe how they come back and admit it now.
    Especially that strong willed one. WOW.
    I like your style, Tex. Like your style.

    1. Christi Avatar

      You always have such deep words for me that make me think even more about what I’ve written than when I wrote it! So thankful for what God is doing here!

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