There is a pain that hides behind the eyes of the mom of a rebellious teen. A weariness from worry. She might be distant or seem aloof—it’s because she’s exhausted from the work of grieving what she imagined this season of motherhood would be.
If you are the mom of a rebellious teen, I see you.
I see how much you ache for restoration in your relationship with your child.
I know how many nights you have lain awake, staring at the ceiling, wrestling with guilt that somehow along the way you might have messed up.
I understand the heaviness that comes from incessant worry. You are sore from carrying your worst fears around like weights.
To the mom of the rebellious teen, I want you to know I’m in the trenches with you.
I’m going to tell you exactly what I need to hear myself.
First, I’m so sorry this part of your journey in parenting looks like this. I know when you first held your child, this is not what you imagined. Ever. But before we go any further, let’s work on letting go of the guilt. You and I both worry so much about the mistakes we have made.
I can look back and cringe at the moments I have yelled when I should have hugged. I think about what-ifs, and I second-guess every decision I have made. Did I pick the wrong battles? Was I too strict and rigid with my rules and expectations? Did I allow too much? Should I have protected and shielded more?
Remember, mama, all of us make mistakes. The mom friend from church or work who has the perfect, thoughtful, and kind teenager who makes amazing grades and loves to spend time with her mother made mistakes too.
No one gets it all right.
Let’s own what mistakes we know we have made and forgive ourselves for the things we didn’t know, couldn’t yet understand, or were unable to control.
Remember, mama, we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. Don’t let your perceptions based on small moments out in public or snapshots shared on social media fool you. When you look at another seemingly perfect family and feel a twinge of jealousy, remember that we do not see the arguments, the challenges, and the pain other moms have gone through. In a world where what we consume is so often curated, filtered, and edited, it is rare to see someone bare their heartaches openly.
I am guilty of it myself. I am purposely living more authentically and transparently these days, mostly so others will see they are not alone.
Remember you are not wrong for having boundaries, and if you are in the difficult place of needing to enforce tough boundaries with your child, my heart goes out to you. Just because you are a mom does not mean you are not also a human who deserves safety, stability, and sanity. You need it as much as your child does.
Remember, mama, remember that it has not always been this way.
Even if it has always been hard, look back on your teen’s younger days and dwell in those feelings for a minute. Before the rebellion, before the dangerous behaviors, before the hurt. Think about the way her hair used to curl at the base of her neck or the special way he always slept as a toddler. The way she high-fived you after every goal.
Sometimes when our love tanks are empty, we can use those memories of sweeter times to refuel and reignite our compassion, empathy, and purpose. Under the rebellion and hurt, that little one is still there needing you. There are many mamas who can look back on their own years of rebellion and trace God’s finger through their lives, and no matter how far they strayed, they found their way back to stability.
And most importantly, remember, mama, remember to hope. Hold onto hope even if your relationship is strained or estranged.
Keep hoping even when the future looks dim.
How many of us can look back on stages of our lives when the prayers, love, and encouragement of someone who loved us served as a guiding light? When our children grow up and sail off into storms, we can still be a lighthouse.
Keep praying. Even if it feels useless or hollow. It is not. A mother’s prayer is one that is holy and sacred. Just keep praying.
And while you hope and while you pray, know that you are not alone. We cannot control the paths our children take, but we can keep shining light on the path that shows them their way back home.