A mom of five kids (all teenagers) once told me something they discuss a lot in their home is recovery.

Her husband’s big question to their kids is, What will your recovery be? He tells his teenagers, “You’re going to make mistakes, and hard things will happen, but what will your recovery be? How will you respond when things don’t go as planned?”

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I love this concept because it’s so relevant, especially to teenagers. More often than not, this is the season of life when adult-sized problems, disappointments, and heartbreaks begin to manifest.

An accident they didn’t see coming.

A romance that ended with tears.

A mistake they’ll always regret.

A dream that didn’t come true.

A curveball that changed their plans.

A setback that felt like punishment.

I’ve read many articlesI’m sure you have tooabout the importance of cultivating resilient kids. I’ve heard it said that today’s children often have high performance skills but low coping skills.

Their talents and achievements are off the charts, yet when it comes to the interior stuff, that inner grit that helps them handle the unexpected twists and turns of life, it often doesn’t develop to a mature level.

I’m all for resiliency, but I don’t like watching the adversities that build resilient kids. I don’t enjoy seeing my kids or others face bumps in the road or mountains they must climb that put their character and resolve to the test.

The truth, however, is that pain serves a purpose. The obstacles our kids face today often prepare them for future blessings or open doors they don’t see coming. God comforts them in their pain so they learn to comfort others. Whatever happens, good or bad, can be used to grow God’s kingdom and draw hearts closer to Him.

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The first stage of recovery is rarely a pretty sight. It is often messy and unpredictable, even for parents, who are often caught off-guard by how emotional and sad we feel when we see our child struggling.

I believe helping our child recover begins with compassion and sensitivity.

It means comforting them, crying with them, and confirming we’ll walk beside them. Whatever the next steps are, we’ll join them on the journey. They don’t have to travel alone.

The next step is to instill hope. To give them something to cling to and remind them how the pain they feel is temporary. It won’t last forever, and things will get better.

No human is guaranteed a problem-free life, and what every child realizes at some point is how fragile life can be. How bodies, hearts, and spirits can break from one terrible event, one devastating conversation, one poor choice, one bad performance, one blindsiding betrayal, or one painful punch in the gut.

We can’t always prevent the trials our children face, but we can significantly influence their next chapter. We can empower them by asking, What will your recovery be? How will you make the best of this situation? What choices will you make from here that keep you moving in the right direction?

And then, we can celebrate their recovery. 

We can applaud them as they move forward. What happens in recovery is what builds grit and character. This is where resiliency grows as kids dig deep to find new strength.

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Wounds in the process of healing are different than wounds that have already healed. Ultimately, our favorite stories to tell are the battles we survived. The scars that prove what we once endured before emerging on the other side.

Watching our kids face trials can be heart-wrenching, but these events can also lead to our proudest moments in parenting. Through recovery, we learn what our kids are made of, and we equip them to feel proud of themselves as they courageously move forward to begin a new adventure full of hope, potential, and promise.

Previously published on the author’s blog

Kari Kampakis

Kari Kampakis is a mom of four girls, author, podcaster, and blogger from Birmingham, Alabama. Her new book for moms, LOVE HER WELL: 10 WAYS TO FIND JOY AND CONNECTION WITH YOUR TEENAGE DAUGHTER, launches Aug. 18 and can be pre-ordered through online retailers. Kari’s books for teen & tween girls – LIKED and 10 ULTIMATE TRUTHS GIRLS SHOULD KNOW – have been used widely across the country for small group studies. Join Kari on Facebook and Instagram or visit karikampakis.com