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Depressed with a Teenage Daughter

by Paul

I'm a christian and have been married for 15 years now. I have 2 daughters ages 13 and 8. My challenge is with my 13 year old daughter and my wife. My 13 year old has never gotten below a C in her classes, however I have to check on her grades frequently because she has a tendancy to slack off and miss assignments if I don't keep track. I've also had to meet with a couple of her teachers to discuss how she doesn't come prepared to class and doesn't pay attention like she should and will show disrespect to the teachers. She also frequently argues with us when we tell her no, although she will do what she says when push comes to shove. I have had long conversations about her behavior and about God and Jesus and she says she believes and loves God. Currently my wife got mad at me and her because they got in a fight and my wife thought I went to easy on her. She currently hasn't talked to either one of us for 2 weeks now. I find when I talk to my daughter and reason with her she reacts better than when I get real strict with her. However my wife thinks we need to be stricter. Our daughter is a typical teenager better than some and worse than some. I wish she was more Christian so I try to set a good example and communicate with her a lot. I know all her friends name and how she feels about boys, teachers and God. My issue is I've developed severe depression and anxiety over her. I check the parent portal up to 6 times a day expecting bad grades, missing grades or her being tardy to school. I'ts gotten to the point where I wake up and my stomach hurts, my heart pounds, I feel sad and helpless and have lost interest in most things in life. I pray to God every day and feel him comforting me when I pray but my depression and anxiety doesn't go away. I feel lost right now.

Reply from Sound-Mind.org

Hello Paul,

As Christian parents, I think we have a tendency to be very hard on ourselves and our children. Of course I think it's important to have high standards but what ends up happening is that we not only have
high standards but also high expectations. If you ask me, I think this is where the problem begins. It's perfectly natural to want the best for our kids, but at the same time we must also be realistic. Expecting our kids
to adhere to high standards of living is different than having high expectations that may either be unrealistic or unobtainable. As scripture tells us..."When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me." ( 1 Cor. 13:11 ) Therefore, our expectations of our children should be realistic based on their own maturity level. We must remember that our children will eventually mature and learn valuable lessons along the way providing we give them enough room to make mistakes. Sadly enough, some parents shelter their kids too much because they don't want them to make the same mistakes they have made. But the truth remains, it is through living and suffering the consequences of our choices by which we learn and gain wisdom. While some children learn from listening to others experiences and are wise to put that knowledge to use in their own lives...unfortunately other children have to learn from experience. ( as in the parable of the Prodigal Son - Luke 15:11-32 )

Although some would probably disagree with me, I think that reasoning is important and quite effective. Many times children do not understand why we feel the way we do about something or why our answers are "no". Many parents think that a reason such as "because I said no" is good enough but I don't. This answer to me proves to be somewhat of a bully remark...one displaying power and rule over another without care or concern for understanding. I am happy to say that I talked frequently with my kids and took the time to explain. When I did this, I found less resistance and even if they did not agree with me, it was easier for them to accept. Instead of seeing me as a dictator, they saw me as a parent who was watching out for their best interest.

When you say that she frequently argues with you when you tell her no, it reminded me so much of my youngest daughter. My youngest is a strong and determined girl. I can identify with how hard it can be to go back and forth while she pleads her case and argues for what she wants. As irritating as it is and as problematic as it seems to be, it is not always a bad thing. Some kids have this strong personality and this is part of who they are and will definitely come in handy one day, but of course it makes parenting that much more complicated. One thing that helps is to allow your daughter to begin to make some decisions on her own (within reason) and most of all...to hear you tell her how proud you are when she makes RIGHT decisions. Lay down the ground rules and tell her ahead of time what the consequences will be if she breaks them. Then follow through! It also helps to keep an "eye to eye" relationship with your child. They may not always be able to see where we are and where we are coming from...but we've been where they are and can put ourselves in their shoes and talk on their level of understanding. We must not forget that we were their age too and so we have to help them see that we can identify with them.

As for your depression and anxiety over all this... I can understand your pain. It's hard watching your children become their own people. Letting go is never easy especially when we feel so responsible. I like to say that "letting go" is something I will be forced to do over and over again throughout my life. Why? Because I am not always in control of everything. It's easy to parent children when they are young but when they start expressing their own opinions, feelings and beliefs... it's a reminder that it's time to "let go and let God". At one point in my minds' eye, I saw God giving me this beautiful little baby to care for, to teach, to encourage and as they got older & more mature, I saw myself (spiritually) having to give that child back to God. I had to trust that God had all things under control, especially when I didn't. We can't always control our kids. When they get older, they become spiritually accountable for their own actions. The hard part is knowing that our children will make mistakes and they will suffer the pain of their own consequences. I think you will find that the older your kids get... the more you will realize that there is no other option than to trust God.

There are some free Christian resources that I think you will enjoy and will bring you some wisdom in helping you parent your teen. Mark Gregston (Christian Author) offers 3 free e-books, "How to Turn Around Your Teen", "Secrets to Effective Parenting In the Teen Years", and "Developing Rules and Boundaries For Your Teen". These e-books are available in MS Word and PDF formats. For more information, be sure to check out the website Parenting Today's Teens with Mark Gregston. This site offers many more free resources, including archived radio broadcasts, blog posts and much more.

Hang in there Paul! When you feel anxious or depressed, please know that God is always with you and that sometimes we have to make the deliberate choice to let go and trust God. Remember, this too shall pass...so take the time to encourage & remind yourself of God's promises.

Thanks for posting!
~Susan





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