How to Help Teens in Crisis Thru CoronaVirus Epidemic
Families stuck in their homes. Four walls. No personal room to breathe and dealing with a teen or young adult in crisis. Yikes! How in the world as a parent am I going to get through this?
Well, we can go under or rise above it. Today, I rise above it. How? First pray! You cannot successfully survive unless you put God and prayer first. That’s not a thought. This is imperative if you want to get through the coming days and weeks.
So let me get frank. I have a daughter with multiple issues. PTSD, CAPD, Anxiety, Depression, Borderline Personality Disorder, Short Term Memory issues, and the list goes on. I have survived ten years with these problems. They were much worse than what they are now. In fact, suicidal ideology, sub-culture identity issues, self-harm, and a few others were added into that mix many years ago.
I am amazed in my tenacity and perseverance that kept me going when there were many times I struggled with the idea of giving up. I was tired, worn, frustrated, depressed, fearful, and filled with shame as a parent.
Tears. O yes, I had many of them. Pouring my heart out to God, He continually heard my voice and answered. Not always in the way I had prayed and requested, I learned He fulfilled those requests in His timing and perfect way. I was never truly alone even in the midst of silence at times.
Friends and family did not always understand, but God did. When I needed someone to talk to, He was already there. I didn’t need to pick up a phone or drive to a friend or family member’s house (especially when they weren’t always available). Counselors can’t always be at your beck and call either. They have other clients and need to live their life too. So that left the only one who had all the answers. GOD!
Now here we are in the midst of a health crisis across the nation and closed inside our home. With no one else but our family, including our hurting and broken child, their problems are magnified more. This is especially true when your child’s issues grow due to the health crisis (such as OCD, Anxiety, Depression, etc…). This leaves us more frustrated and quite candidly for some, worrisome and overwhelmed.
Take heart my dear parent. Remind yourself that being inclosed is temporary. This is NOT forever. Secondly, your child is scared. They either don’t comprehend the health crisis at hand or they are being misinformed and running on fear of the untruths by others, especially by the media.
Now is the time to make a plan. It is never too late to do this. Here are TEN tools and tips to get you through the coming weeks. Don’t despair, God is near!
- Pray! No doubt your child is going to sleep in due to no school and you are used to rising early for work or starting your day. This is the perfect time to spend in God’s Word and to pray. By implementing this as part of your day, you will be fueled by the Holy Spirit to guide you in your parenting and keep you calm in the times you need to be. Sixty-three times it says in the Bible to “Fear Not!” As you prepare through prayer and the Word, you will find yourself learning wisdom and discernment with your teen/young adult that you did not have before.
- Take time to Worship! Put your worship music on and sing the praises of God. There is a joy and peace imparted in us as we worship God. It is like no other. It brings an intimate time between us and God and gives us strength as we are reminded of His love, His faithfulness to us, and His presence around us. I can honestly say, it has brought peace to me when crises were severe.
- Do fun things! I would whip out some oldies in movies and tv shows that my kids never heard of and watched them over and over. My kids are young adults now and they still will pick them to watch. Like an escape, this was something my daughter really loved. It took her from that rebellious, risk taker, and depressed stage to a laughing, bonding moment in which doors were opened in communication and just enjoying each other. There are many other fun things to do, but this is one we loved the most.
- Ask your child for help. I have often played dumb in order to get my bonding time in with my daughter. I would ask her to help me understand something on my computer or phone. I would ask her to show me something about make-up (which is her passion and expertise). If you have a son, ask him about cars, video gaming, music, etc… The goal is to draw them out of their own world and to include you in it. I didn’t always understand the things she did or what she was into, but to have that door opened by them to you becomes a blessing..
- Communicate, Communicate, Communicate! Find a subject that they really like and ask them to share with you why they love it and why it is important to them. For example, my daughter LOVED the sub-culture identities that kids flock to. (e.g. Goth, Emo, Scene, etc…) I asked her why and she opened her mouth and didn’t stop. This truly opened my eyes to understand some of the issues she was going through and helped me re-evaluate how to handle her emotions, thoughts, rebelliousness, and more. The doors that were once closed to me as a parent began to fall away and her trust in me for not judging her also strengthened. Communication is one of the biggest issues that counselors see as a problem between a parent and child. Don’t shut the door.
- School work! Let’s face it, kids don’t like school. I never did and most likely your child won’t either. However, we live in an age where schooling doesn’t have to be boring and a pain to do. Let your child know that you realize how school has changed, how the school work is different from when you went to school and how much more pressure there is to excel and get along with peers. So ask them how they want to do their schooling. Offer to help, but not in a way in which you are doing their work. Use the computer for research and share some ideas of what you learned in the same subject. Ask them what their favorite topic, subject, and curricular activity they like. Be their cheerleader when they have accomplished a goal in their schooling. Whether it is finishing the schooling in one subject, writing a difficult paragraph, or an idea they came up with. Don’t nit-pick at their work. That’s a teacher’s job. Just be an encouragement.
- Do something that involves Life Skills! Ask them what they want to learn as an adult. Show them a list of Life Skills that they will need in life (make sure you tell them it is not schooling) and tell them to pick one thing a day to learn. Examples – Cook a meal, change a tire, etc…
- Show your child that no matter what is happening in the world, they can have peace and security in God through the example of you. Kids are fearful these days. The world is changing around them and a lot of it is not good. We can choose to fall into the trap of hopelessness the way the world sees it, or we can choose to put our hope in God who is always faithful to deliver us and help us. They need to see parents that are not afraid. We may not have all of the answers and it is okay to tell them this. But we can tell them that our hope and trust is in God who never fails us or leaves us and does have all the answers..
- Share the scripture with your teen/adult. One scripture verse a day. Put it on the fridge, on the mirror, or somewhere in which it won’t be missed. Make it bold. These are God reminders to our kids that He loves us, is near us, and there is nothing to fear. Use an easy Bible version that they can relate to. You are putting the seeds of God in their heart each time they read a verse. It’s a great discussion opener. Here’s an easy one. “Jesus wept.” – John 11:35. Your child may ask why. Answer – He wept because of His compassion over the suffering, because of the sins of the world, because He was going to die for us on the cross. There is meaning behind every word that God gives. And it is all for us to learn and grow from.
- Sow seeds of love for your child – Do simple things (even if they don’t always deserve it) to show your care for them. Make their favorite food or dessert. Sit down with them and talk about new decorating ideas for their room that you can do on a budget or have them make some of the decor with you. Participate in one of their hobbies..The list is endless.
There will be certain situations in which you will need to reach out to a counselor for guidance and a prayer support group to pray you through a crisis. God provides these avenues to support us so that we do not drown in despair as we journey on the sea of parenting storms in our lives. He continually meets every need and will do so even now when there is so much uncertainty in our world. Here are 14 days (2 weeks) of scripture to not fear.
- “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ~ Isaiah 41:10
- “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” ~ Psalm 56:3
- “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” ~ John 14:27
- “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” ~ 2 Timothy 1:7
- “But now, this is what the Lord says…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” ~ Isaiah 43:1
- “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” ~ Psalm 23:4
- “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” ~ Joshua 1:9
- “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” ~ Matthew 6:34
- “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” ~ Luke 12:22-26
- “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” ~ Psalm 55:22
- “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” ~ Psalm 46:1
- “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” ~ Mark 4:39-40
- “I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.” ~ Psalm 34:4
- “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” ~ Romans 8:38-39
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
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