5 Ways to Survive Your Child's Difficult Stages
by Cindi McMenamin
July 28th, 2016

Do you know what it’s like to have a teenager who isn’t motivated to do anything?

That was Judy’s complaint to me recently.

"He's very smart. And he's doing his work in class. He's just not turning it in. He forgets. Or he doesn't feel like making that extra effort to turn it in. I don't know what's wrong with him. It's so frustrating."

I had heard Judy's story before, but from Julie. And Mary. And Tina. And countless other moms. They all knew what it was like to have a teenager who was going through something.

As I wrote my book, 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom, I interviewed moms of children going through the “questioning” stage, the “testing” stage, and the “lack of motivation” stage, to name just a few.

In some cases the phase lasted only a few months. In most cases, it lasted about a year. But in every case I've seen or heard about, it was a limited time – a short season of a child’s life.

One mom summed it up like this: “Every phase my kids went through, whether good or bad, seemed to change over time. I spent a lot of time worrying about something that wasn’t even an issue a year later.” (Incidentally, Judy’s son got over his “lack of motivation” stage and is now a very motivated, responsible, high-achieving 24-year-old who appears very balanced in life.)

Worry negatively affects our health. Worry damages our relationship with our children by making them not want to tell us what is going on in their lives. And worry models to our children a lack of trust in God. So there has to be another way to deal with their difficult phases.

Philippians 4:6 commands us:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus (NLT).

Here are some practical ways to keep this command to not worry – and keep your sanity – when your child is going through a difficult stage:  

1. Learn to Respond, Rather Than React

When we react, rather than respond to our children’s behavior, it can escalate a situation between a parent and child, especially if you are reacting emotionally to something you don't understand (like your child's choice of dress or unusual request). Instead of reacting to something your child might say from a bad attitude or an irrational thought, respond by calmly saying "Tell me more about that.”

2. Learn to Laugh

It helps to have a sense of humor. See the “stage” as something to look back and laugh about later.

3. Learn to Count it Out

One mom told me she "counts to ten" in every situation where she's tempted to blow. Being patient by taking a deep breath and counting makes sure we are not as impulsive and emotional in our responses, as our children are in their actions.

4. Learn from Moms Who Have Been There

God many times speaks to us through the wisdom of others. Talk to godly moms who are facing the same things with their kids and can offer sound biblical insight. If you don't have a group of moms around you who can give you biblical advice, find a Moms in Prayer group at your children’s school or find a moms group at your local church.

5. Lean on God and His Word

In Psalm 16:8, David said: "I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken." Life’s circumstances can shake us. Our children’s constant changes can take us by surprise and rattle us. But you can have the kind of confidence David had when he said “I will not be shaken.”


As you lean on God, who never changes, and His Word, which is rock solid, you can stand firmly and be a steady, immovable force in your child's life no matter what he or she is going through and no matter what changes are swirling around you. 

Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and author who helps women and couples strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 15 books including her newest, Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You

More of Cindi McMenamin : http://www.strengthforthesoul.com/