When a teen is in crisis, it's hard to know what to do. Part 2 of this series explains 2 more ways parents can respond to teens with or without disabilities.

When a teen is in crisis, parents need to be ready to respond to their children in wise and godly ways. In this two part series, guest blogger Catherine Boyle offers four strategies she learned the hard way. Because of the rapid changes experienced through the teen years, what she has to say is of value to parents raising children with special needs, disabilities, mental health issues, and their typical siblings. Yesterday in Part 1, Catherine shares the first two tips. Today she shares two more.

#3: Prepare ahead of time.

This may sound like a ridiculous concept, but for Christ-followers, it’s not. Being in God’s Word regularly, praying regularly, seeking His will and direction for your life fills your spiritual tank. Such activity may seem like wasted time, but when  a crisis comes, you’ll find that God has made you ready in some important way.

I’m not sugar-coating how hard a crisis can be. No one can be prepared for everything. Years ago, I spent a season in prayer for my extended family. I was impressed to pray for several months that we would all be ready.

Ready for what? I had no idea.

The day that my father had a seizure and doctors discovered he had glioblastoma brain cancer, I got my answer. My dad lived seven months to the day from diagnosis until he died, and it wasn’t an easy season in any way. But in my spirit, I knew God had prepared me. 

In the same way, I had been praying certain prayers the spring and summer before the crisis with our teen. Make no mistake, that was a hard season as a parent. The first time my husband and I ventured out of the house, leaving our teen at home, I had a full-blown panic attack. Struggling to contain my tears––and my fears––we returned home early before I was a total blubbering mess. Had my spiritual tank been empty, I would have been in even worse shape.

#4: Protect you child—and yourself—from those who are not helpful.

Maybe it’s the friend who loves to share juicy tidbits of gossip with the world, maybe it’s a family member who drains the life out of you. Your mission in such a time is to work with God and those He puts in your life to help your teen repair and rebuild his or her heart, and create a new direction. 

You won’t be able to be diligent in this way if you lose focus from the mission of the moment. Your teen’s actual life may depend on you not giving way to anger, despair, fear or losing faith in God. If there are people in your life who contribute to these negative emotions, gently but firmly tell them that you will not be able to talk with them until things are sorted out. During this season and in others, I chose to update certain family and friends by email, rather than attempt to talk to them.

Just like you would do all that is necessary to protect yourself from infection when you or your child has a physical wound, protection during the healing of spiritual wounds is also necessary.

No one can prepare for everything that happens as you raise your children. But if you live in Florida, you prepare as best you can for hurricanes. If you live in Oklahoma, you prepare for the day when a tornado is coming. If you live with teens, you prepare for a teen crisis. Staying prayed up, connected to your teens and to God will gird you for the unexpected day.

Part 1

Catherine Boyle is Mental Health Ministry Director, Blog Editor and Social Media Manager for Key Ministry. Catherine has been impacted by mental health issues her entire life, including her own struggles with anorexia, bulimia, anxiety and depression. Prior to joining Key Ministry in 2018, Catherine authored Hungry Souls: What the Bible Says About Eating Disorder, and helped launch a ministry home for women with eating disorders. In 2015, Catherine founded Outside In Ministries, focusing on how the church can minister to and with people with mental health issues. Follow Catherine’s work here and at www.catherineboyle.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Patreon.

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