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The Parenting Thrill Ride

Parenting is rarely like a pleasant but slightly boring turn on a carousel.  It’s usually more like a heart-stopping and unpredictable roller coaster ride.  In both experiences, the destination is never in question.  But the roller coaster has more ups, downs and moments of terror.

As soon as you think you have it all together as a parent and feel as if you’ve reached a high point, you’re suddenly slammed into yet another dip, another turn, another uphill climb. One second you’re right side up, and the next second you’re hanging on for dear life and maybe even screaming at the top of your lungs.

But oh, how much more exciting is the roller coaster ride! And how much more challenging! How much more thrilling, even with (or perhaps because of) the butterflies in your stomach, the fear, and the uncertainty of what’s around the next turn! On roller coasters, I’ve screamed out God’s name like a little girl. I’ve done the same in the twists and turns of parenting.

Prayer brings hope to my hopelessness and calms my anxiety when I need a reminder that I am not alone. Prayer reassures me that my confusion does not deter His plan.

Calling out His name affirms His presence, His power, and His purpose in my life. Regardless of how I pray— screaming from the roller coaster or in the quietness of my soul—I am reminded that just as there was a beginning, so there will be an end. Prayer brings hope to my hopelessness and calms my anxiety when I need a reminder that I am not alone.

Prayer reassures me that my confusion does not deter His plan. It calls me to look for the bigger picture, to embrace a larger view of whatever is happening, and to search deeper for meaning in the struggles and for purpose in the pleasures. Prayer reminds me that this parenting roller coaster is a ride like none other and that it draws on every attribute and ounce of strength I have to survive the ups and downs of the adolescent years and reach the end with relationships intact and training complete.

Prayer reminds me that the thrill of the parenting roller coaster is worth the discomfort; so I’m willing to crawl back into that seat and get locked in for another ride. Prayer changes things—including me. It has a wondrous way of changing situations. It forces me to remain focused on what’s important, and it helps me consider my teen from God’s perspective. Prayer aligns my heart with His and connects my heart with His so that my plans for my teen fall in line with His.

Today’s world sometimes seems to work against us. It’s a tough time to be raising teens. In this confusing culture, all the parents I know need as much help as they can get. 

Help for both the parent and teenager can be found through the daily application of prayer. Through prayer, you’ll real­ize that  parenting teens isn’t so bad, even if it is full of ups and downs, twists and turns, climbs and free falls, fear and relief. After all, parenting wouldn’t be such a thrill ride any other way, would it?

Mark Gregston 

You’re invited to attend the next Families in Crisis Retreat, April 22-24, which I will lead in the Heartlight Conference Center, with 20-30 parents expected to be in attendance. Click here to learn more.

Prayers for My TeenArticle excerpted from the introduction of Prayers for My Teen by Mark Gregston, released this month by Harvest House Publishers.  Available at and through most online booksellers.

More info here >>

See also the newly released, Parenting Today’s Teens, A Practical Devotional.

Author: Mark Gregston

Mark Gregston began working with teens more than 40 years ago as a youth minister and Young Life director. He has authored nearly two dozen books, has written hundreds of articles, and is host of the nationally-acclaimed Parenting Today’s Teens podcast and radio broadcast.