This time of year can be rough for families who are dealing with a struggling teenager. Holidays are supposed to be joyous, not full of strife, so it can be difficult to know how to respond.
During moments of reflection afforded by time-off from work and school, we often examine our painful relationships with a spotlight instead of candlelight. We have time to think about and observe our family connections, our time together, and our traditions. It’s painful to ponder why things are not what we wanted or hoped they would be.
One thing I find helpful is to consider the very nature of the season, and allow it to move you to a more hopeful way of dealing with the struggle. I’m talking about what Christ did when He came to Earth as a human being, ushering in the age of hope and reconciliation. We surely didn’t deserve it, and He surely didn’t deserve the strife, but He came into our midst to help us anyway.
Christmas is the season for giving and forgiving. And God, the best “giver” ever, gave us Christ, who made reconciliation with our Heavenly Father possible. What better time is there to follow that example, and let your teen know that you have not given up, you want your relationship to be better, and to offer them God-like, undeserved, reconciliation?
Reconciliation lets them know you intend to keep your relationship alive — even if they don’t make the same move toward you.
God has not given up on you, has He? If God gave up on us every time we offended Him, our relationship with Him would be very short-lived. Instead of giving up, God moved toward reconciliation by sending Jesus, who came to us in the most unselfish way possible. Hopefully, we will humbly recognize our own undeserving nature, and respond with grateful hearts.
“..be like Christ, and consider others more important than yourself.” –Philippians 2:3b
There is a time to be contemplative, but then be sure to move on and act in such a way that lets your teen know you consider them more important than anything else in your life. Are you willing to offer your teen the God-given gift of reconciliation?
The grace found in humbly offering reconciliation to your teen, or any other person for that matter, is an excellent ornament for your family Christmas tree. It is a beautiful symbol of the love of Christ at work in your life.
This Christmas season, keep in mind that God can touch your teen. His thumbprint is still on your child, despite the struggle. And God is moving in such a way that reconciliation remains possible, even if you can’t see it right now, for He is the author, creator, and originator of reconciliation.
May your Christmas include the joy of reconciliation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and director of Heartlight, a residential counseling center for struggling teens located in Longview, Texas. He has been married to his wife, Jan, for 40 years, has two kids, and four grandkids. He lives in Longview, Texas, with the Heartlight staff, 60 high school kids, 25 horses, his dog, Stitch, two llamas, and a prized donkey named Toy.
His past involvement as a youth pastor, Young Life area director, and living with more than 2,800 teens has prepared Mark to share his insights and wisdom about parenting pre-teens and adolescents. You can find out more about Heartlight at HeartlightMinistries.org. You can also call Heartlight directly at (903) 668-2173.
Mark is also the host of the radio program Parenting Today’s Teen; heard on over 1,600 radio outlets nationwide. Visit ParentingTodaysTeens.org where you’ll find more parenting resources and find a station near you that carries the daily 60-second features or the 30-minute weekend program. Download the Parenting Today’s Teens App for Apple or Android, it’s a great way to listen on your schedule.