Difficult Teens

Troubled Teens

I sometimes receive personal notes on Facebook or through our contact page. Some are from parents who have “had enough” of their teenage child. Here’s one that is worth answering today:

“Wendy, I am struggling right now with my oldest daughter. It is heart breaking for me and I am struggling with being angry. When my daughter IS sweet, I don’t even want to be lovely with her because I am so worn out, hurt and offended by her [earlier behavior]. I know that is not right, but I am struggling to get through it. … You and Chris have really learned what real love is and how to show it. I want to learn from you. You really need to write a parenting book! I am hoping to hear something from you that I can implement.”

– Frustrated Mom

You are experiencing what every mom experiences with their children eventually: adolescence. It is one of the most emotionally high-strung time periods of our lives, and it is very difficult to live with them through it. Chris and I have been through it with a handful of our children, but we have many more to go. So, I’m with you and understand!

My best advice to you is for you to try to move quickly with your relationship with your daughter. Her emotions are moving fast! One second she is happy, then excited, then angry. I’m asking you to be her guide through this dark and scary forest called “growing up.”

Hold her hand and look her in the eye and love her through it. Try to remember when you were her age and who helped you. Try to remember what didn’t help. Be her ever-present loving mommy.

Try to not take it personally. Her battle is not with you, really. She wants to learn how to grow up. Therefore, you be the grown up. You be the one who is first to forgive, first to give a hug and first to love. You be the guide and guide her to Jesus. Help her to learn the right way to behave but do it with that knowing look in your own eye. You know because you are older and because you have already been down her road.

And keep in mind that this time will pass. Someday soon, your daughter will be rational again, she’ll have control of her emotions, and she’ll be the sweet person you love to love. Because of your patience and understanding, she will be a well-adjusted adult and a best friend of yours. You don’t want her to look back at you as impatient or angry through this time. No, that wouldn’t be good. You want your daughter to look back and be thankful that she had you as her mom.

You will be surprised along the way at how God comes in and gives you both what you need. God picked you to be her mother, and he knew just what he was doing. He believes in you, He loves you! Let your daughter see the same kind of love (encouragement, understanding, kindness) in you. Blessings and hugs to you!

The comment section below: I would love to hear other responses to “Frustrated Mom.” What would you say to encourage her? What has worked with your teenager? Boys included!

About Wendy Jeub

Yes, Wendy Jeub has brought 16 children into the world, and loves each and every one of them. So much so, she'd welcome more!

  • BJ

    My oldest son responds best when I remind him regularly how valued he is–as a person, not just as a worker, student, etc. . .  His teenage years so far have been wonderful–he’ll be 16 next summer, so we still have a ways to go.  😉 

    Our second son is a different story.  There are days when I don’t know if either of us will survive the next few years.  He’ll be 14 next month, and he’s been a challenge since he was 2.  I pray he will learn to fight the rebellious spirit that torments him instead of fighting us.  (If you have a moment, please pray for Austin.)  I’ll be following this post to see what ideas are shared.

    As for girls, our oldest is almost 12.  We’re just at the onset of those teenage years, so I’m not sure how we’ll fare.  But she is a different creature than either boy.  Those hormones keep the whole family wondering how to respond at times already. . . And following her we have 2 more girls, a boy, a girl and a boy.  We’ll be in this stage for a while, as well. . .but I’ve seen through many of my friends that the teen years can be an amazing time.  I pray that we experience that side of it more than the stressful side!  :)

    • Wendy Jeub

      Thank you so much BJ for your honesty. Your children will certainly benefit from your ‘adult’ perspective.

  • Pam

    I can relate. Who wants to be around someone who has just recently had an attitude? Not me. There will be a distance until a few things happen. Like Wendy mentioned, we are the adults, after all!  So let us be the ones to move toward them.

    First, we give the younger ‘attitude struggler’ a few gentle and short words about making their heart right. Example, “Son, what you said to me was dis-respectful. I think you should find a place to get with God.” (Remember gentle and short!)

    Personally, what I do next is vent, and I have found it best to vent to my husband. I need to get it out if I am angry or hurt, and to figure out my husband’s take on it. He may have some information I didn’t know  We parents must stay united, agree together, pray together.

    Then I get with God, because now I must deal with the older ‘attitude struggler’–and that would be ME. I (usually) have something that needs to be made right too. I read the Word and pray until I am able to forgive. Forgive, then go beyond—invest. Jesus is our example.

    Time is good. Give them time. When there is a new attitude then I will make the investment idea known to them. Example: “Wow. I see you have a better attitude. So do I. Maybe tomorrow you and I can run a few errands together. What do you think?”  (The investing should be something that would bless them. Maybe they have a different idea.)

    If they don’t have an improved attitude, I wait til they do. If they don’t in any way apologize, I tell them that I am still hurting, and that a simple apology with me goes a long way. They almost always do that.  ….Hope something here helps.

    • Wendy Jeub

      Pam, I really like how you put it all in order.

  • Tonya Hankins

    I think Wendy really hit it on the nail when she said ”
    You be the one who is first to forgive, first to give a hug and first to love. You be the guide and guide her to Jesus”  .  I have to say both Amen and oh me on that one. My children are not teenagers yet but my 7year old daughter sometimes get’s this attitude and oh how hard it is. If we think about how Jesus Christ responds to us and tolerates us at times though I think it is much easier. Thanks for this post Wendy I hope I can store it away in my memory for when mine get to be teenagers. 

  • Californialovebirds

    I don’t have teenagers yet so I don’t have anything to say from experience as a parent but one thing that absolutely made me crazy mad at my mom when I was a teen was that right after a fight she would almost rush downstairs to apologize. It made me even madder at her because I was still processing the whole thing and it felt incredibly insincere. It seemed she was so anxious for things to be mended that she didn’t even think about my feelings or realize that I would have come around if she had given me space. So….as an adult we can be the grown up and apologize first but that doesn’t mean that teenagers can’t be grown up- they just might need more time- even if it means ‘ going to bed angry.’ it would have been a much sweeter reconciliation if she had waited. Now every child is different and needs something different but I just wanted to put that perspective out there.

    • Wendy Jeub

      This is a good perspective. As a parent we ‘should’ know our children and react in kind. However, I do love the fact that she was so willing to say ‘I’m sorry’. Few parents do.

  • Marie

    A long time ago, about 11 years ago with my eldest, I had an “ahaha” moment that helped me navigate with the other teens.  As of today, I only have two teens left, as child number 3 turns 20 today.  So, I’m done with 3 teens and I have 2 in the midst, and with that I offer my humble insight.

    Being a Christian, and understanding our sin nature is not an option, I recognize a lot of teen “inconsistency” as spiritual warfare.  Why would Satan want them to go through this growing up period unscathed by the world?  He is attempting to thwart them every step of the way.  The worst possible scenario for him is to have young men and women committed to Christ, and committed to raising families for our Lord and Savior.

    What to do?  What do you do when you see the enemy in your own life?  You put on the full armor as laid out in Ephesians 6!  

    When my first son started going through it, I allowed myself to get sucked in.  I’d get frustrated, angry and hurt.  Not the best response when trying to disciple a young man that is growing taller than you everyday!  Then one day, he came home from a winter weekend camp, and he was a changed person.  I recognized that he had probably “rededicated” his life.  Then I saw satan’s darts coming faster and harder at him.  I realized that I needed to help him navigate through the events that were happening to him:  self esteem, self worth, having others recognize his talent, or dealing with it when they didn’t recognize it.  And then to respond to those issues by directing him to the Word.  Fortunately, he played several instruments, so he had a lot of worship music outlet on our piano and his guitar and saxophone.  By the time he was 17, he could come home from a particularly rough day, and even before he’d shower, he’d put in a lot of time on the piano or the guitar.  And I worked hard not to cringe about the dirt clothes and sweaty body on my furniture, because I realized this was a clue to me as to what kind of day he’d had.

    With teens number 2 and 3, I would say out loud, “This is spiritual warfare, and we need to combat it.”  My daughter said that she hated hearing me say that, but saying it, normally cut the behavior short.  With teens 4 and 5, I don’t typically identify it out loud, I just respond with scripture that we have memorized as a family.  And then I respond by praying.  Sometimes I have two or three quiet times a day.

    I also believe that the patterns set by the older children help direct the younger children, and I have found that it has gotten easier to direct them.  Even with my 14 year old, I never have to remind him to have his own quiet time.  He just does it.  I also found that my kids enjoyed knowing that I had my own quiet time.  I used to keep it just to me – reading in the evening, at bed time, but to do it during the day, in the morning, with them in the same room, as encouraged them to do the same.

    I cannot finish this post without writing how important it has been for our boys to see the example of their father either.  Although he works hard and isn’t home all day with them, they know his stance, his example, and that he and I are on the same team in parenting.

    • Wendy Jeub

      Marie, Fantastic!! 

      • Marie

        Why I don’t ever write anything…  Today, after writing this, we sat down to get some school work done so that the 14 year old and the 16 year old could both do a service project this afternoon at 2:30.  Suffice it to say, that things have deteriorated, all we got done was Bible (the irony of it all), one lesson of math, and neither of them are doing the service project this afternoon, which, after that pronouncement, brought even more disrespect.  I know that the older one will really regret his words in a few hours, but now I just have to wait it out! :(

        • Wendy Jeub

          Marie, Your words are gems to so many and I thank you for your sacrifice. I want you to know that I run into the same thing. (Hugs)

  • Erika Shupe

    *Sigh*  =(  I’ve been experiencing this same question for the past year or so with our first oldest, and it’s so saddened me, driven me crazy, brought out the worst in me, confused me, and tempted me to fear our relationship’s future.  Thank you for answering this, Christ & Wendy.  It gives me hope.  It’s SO HARD for me to do, to love on her when I fight resentment and anger.  I haven’t felt like the grown up in this situation at all!  Lord help me.

  • Tereza

    I am going through this with my oldest and she is not a teenager yet, she is just 8. God is using it all to change me and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am learning to keep my cool, to be the grown up and not get sucked in into her emotional roller coaster. I can see now that this is my training season for later… so that we can actually enjoy the teenage years. Thank you Jesus!!!

  • Thesavvymama

    This brings tears to my eyes. Thank you for this encouragement. I did not have what I want to offer my daughter when I was growing up. It is hard to give something I never knew. It is like reaching for something in the dark, but the love I have for my child and my faith in God guide me. A few words from another mom now and then really helps too. 😉