Thursday, June 24, 2010
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” –Matt. 5:4
As parents, we wear many hats in relationship to our teenagers. We are advisors, providers, coaches, disciplinarians and friends. And we are also comforters.
Normal, healthy teenagers all go through periods of grief. When the loss occurs, what our teen needs most is a listening ear and a comforting word. What our teen doesn't need is a lecture on why he shouldn't be grieving.
When my father passed away many years ago, I was in shock and grieving. I had several well-meaning friends who called with lengthy advice on how to deal with the loss. I appreciated their calls, but two dear friends reached out in ways that were exactly what I needed.
Richard Beach, my mentor, boss and friend, had a friend fly him to Ft. Worth to attend the funeral. I never spoke to him on that day, but I looked up at the funeral and saw Rich in the crowd. Just knowing he was there meant so much. I felt his arms around me even though we never touched.
My best friend, John Vicary, called the morning of the service and simply said, “I love you. Remember, the Lord is with you.” Just knowing he was with me in spirit made all the difference. I just needed to know he was next to me.
Whether the death of a parent or friend, the breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or being cut off a sports team, the times of loss can be very difficult. In the pain of it all, they need us as parents to be there for them.
Many parents are uncomfortable with “silent conversations” with their kids. Remember, Professional Counselors remind us that most people already know the solutions to their problems. What they really desire is someone to simply be with them. In our desire to “solve” the problem, we too often fill the air with advice already revealed to the hurting person.
Emily Dickinson said, “saying nothing sometimes says the most.” Keeping silent allows our hurting teen to share his heart with us. As we acknowledge and validate his feelings, we’re letting him know that he is not alone. Sure, there are times to give needed advice. But God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.
Remember, everyone grieves differently. Most teenagers grieve through anger, so don't be pulled into the anger cycle. They’re still developing the security and confidence to be real about what they feel. The message you want to send to your child is, “your feelings are so important to me, and I will find time to listen to them. You are not bothering me. I love you."
Inside, teens have super-sensitive radar equipment that can tell when someone really cares and loves them. In times of loss, the radar is fully operational and working. Pray for a compassionate and sensitive heart that is in touch with your teens’ emotions.
Allow God to comfort your teen through you, but remember, it may not be through what you say, but by simply being there.
By Eric Joseph Staples ©