Parenting without Tears

Is parenting without tears even healthy? Find out why it is important to have a soft heart.

Have you ever been told that becoming a Christian would make your life better? I have, and I am still waiting for that truth.  When my daughter was struggling with depression and anxiety, it was the most painful time in my life, filled with distress and lots and lots of tears.

praying dad copy 206x300 Parenting without TearsIn church this week, our pastor spoke about ‘lamenting’ and what it means to ‘sow your tears.’  In Psalms 126, David talks about reaping a harvest of joy after tears have been sown. It seems paradoxical, but the pastor gave such a meaningful explanation of grief and suffering that made it seem, well, much more positive and hopeful.  In the book of Ezekiel, God talks about taking hearts of stone from his people and replacing them with hearts of flesh. So, when we become followers of Jesus, our pain actually increases as our hearts are made softer than they were before.

Often our daughter would tell us, “Other parents don’t care if their kids drink, stay out, have sex… so why do you care?”  Sometimes I wish I didn’t care so much, but my relationship with Jesus has actually softened my heart so much that I can’t help but notice and care.  The world tells us to “let go.”  Even counselors will sometimes suggest that your authority and power is limited and so if we can’t stop certain behaviors, we should just accept them.  After all, “they are just teens” and we should just “expect certain behaviors.”  This idea to care less is difficult for a soft heart that recognizes the eternal nature of our humanity.  I am not sure that what we are walking through with our teens as parents should just be endured or ignored.  Maybe instead we should open ourselves up and allow ourselves to feel this pain more deeply and sow our tears…let ourselves feel the full brunt of sorrow.  Throughout the Bible, grief and deep sorrow is one of the first steps in how believers grow and this might be key to how we become better leaders in our homes.

So, what are we supposed to do with all this pain? How do we plant our tears in order to reap joy?  Some of us are really good at trying to overcome our pain, or we minimize it, stuff it down and just hope it goes away. Our culture of individualism even teaches us to ignore pain, have a stiff upper lip, and resolve issues with our own strength. This is destructive because it is not in our nature to ‘hold’ pain and if we don’t recognize our pain we will transmit it to others.  The way to sow our tears is to bring our sorrow, suffering and pain to the God who knows what it feels like. No other god in this world was a sufferer…not one of them was ever weak, vulnerable or in pain. Jesus was. His heart of flesh was perfect, which is why we read that he cried so many times in the stories of His life. He is One who relates to pain, has felt sorrow in the deepest places of His heart and was able to pray and worship His way through those times. Don’t be afraid to lament…to lay down those ugly feelings and get real with Jesus. When we sow these tears, not only does He collect them, but He also plants them into our lives and then brings a harvest of joy out of the dry ground. Try reading through some of the Psalms of lament and use them as your prayers during difficult times. You might be surprised what you reap.

 

Counseling isn’t working

When should I place my teen in a facility to get help?

So often it feels like an extreme measure to remove children from their homes and place them in a facility that might be in a completely different state.

There are no well-established guidelines for placing your teen in residential treatment. Generally speaking, teens enter residential treatment when their needs are too intense to be managed with outpatient counseling.

iStock 000007761349Small 200x300 Counseling isnt workingAfter talking with thousands of parents, what we hear most often is…

  1. “Outpatient counseling isn’t working.”

Parents frequently report that their teen seems to be spiraling out of control and increasing the intensity and/or the frequency of counseling has done nothing to stem the tide of distress and dysfunction. No matter how many opportunities they have given their teen to change, counseling, rewards, punishments have all failed to change the direction of their teen’s life.

  1. “Our family has had enough.”  “He was staying with his uncle, but he has worn out his welcome there too.”

All of the available emotional resources for support from friends and family have become depleted or drained.

  1. “I don’t understand it… he has a great life… I don’t understand why he is so depressed or angry or apathetic or lazy or failing….

Parents often experience confusion or ambiguity as to what the teen might be struggling with and are looking for greater insight and clarity.

  1. “We have to lock our bedroom door because he has stolen from us.” “We are afraid to leave her alone.” “She was grounded, but she just shoved me aside to run out the door.”

There are safety issues, such as escalating levels of substance misuse, self-injurious behaviors, or physical acting out that may be reduced in a controlled treatment milieu.

 

%name Counseling isnt workingAt Shelterwood Academy we can provide round the clock observation in a controlled environment. This level of stabilization helps clarify behaviors or emotions and allows parents to regain control of their homes. Reducing the impact of the teen in the home often protects siblings and enables parents to re-establish their relationships with one another. This renewed strength empowers parents and many families have reported to us that they felt the time out in a residential setting was critical in their own lives. The stress of worry, self doubt with regards to parenting skills, and the anxiety about their teen’s future were all greatly reduced while their teen was in residential care.