Is There Hope for My Messed Up Teenager?

By Zack DeBerry

As a parent now I have a different point of view when it comes to life.  I must confess that I was a “mess” as a teenager.  As I have grown older and now a parent I realize the struggles and pains I probably caused for my parents as a teenager.  I look back now and am amazed that they stuck by me and never lost hope for what they knew they had taught me about life and the love of God.  Many parents of teenagers probably find themselves in situations that they maybe never saw coming or more realistically never hoped would come.  What I have learned in my short time on earth and even shorter time as a parent is that you can’t control everything.

As much as we want to dictate and control the things our kids get into and who they get involved with, a lot of the time these things tend to get beyond our control.  There is that period where our children begin to gain independence and they begin to make choices for themselves. It is the most frightening part of parenting to me. But, in those moments where I may lose hope, or be totally freaked out and even angry at some of the choices they make, I have to remember that I was just like them. I made poor choices and bad decisions. I suffered some consequences that could have easily been avoided. I think the key when it comes to all of this is to really release them to God and trust that HE has a better plan than we could muster up if they were completely under our control all the time.

In my case, I am grateful for parents that were firm, but fair. They were obviously upset with my choices, more times than I can write about in this blog, but I can honestly say that they had Faith that God was bigger than my attitude and choices in life. My mom was a praying woman and my dad was a firm believer that the Bible was true and powerful. As cliche as it sounds they definitely represented the scripture found in Proverbs 22:6 that says, ““Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.”

I love that word “Direct” that is used in this version. There is a difference in directing and dictating. I think a lot of the disconnect in parents and children sometimes come when we become dictators rather than directors. Dictators create either clones who can’t survive on their own or rebels who will do anything to be the opposite of what they see. Directors offer insights and advice, but allow for others to interpret and find their way in the process. Just as we talk about Guardrails in our life I think it’s important as parents to set some guardrails around how we will interact with our children. I truly believe that if we can be people who trust God to be who says He is and to do what He says, He can change our attitudes as parents to be directors rather than dictators.

The question we always ask and want an answer to in those moments of crisis and teenage angst is really about Hope. Is there any hope for him or her? Have they totally blown it? Will they ever come back to church? How could they forget what they know is right? The truth is there are no easy answers for those questions, but take it from one Messed Up Teenager that with Prayer, Faith and Direction there is Hope. I am still not perfect, but I know that I am secure in my relationship with Christ, and I have my parents to thank for that. As a parent now I pray that I can offer direction and truly trust God to do what only He can in my children’s life, even in the darkest of times.


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