Troubled Teens Make Awesome Adults : Hope for Struggling Parents

We've deal with our share of troubled teens. Runaways, drugs, police, court dates and more. But there is an end and the adult that emerges can be amazing!
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Our oldest daughter came to visit recently.  She lives in Arizona We've deal with our share of troubled teens. Runaways, drugs, police, court dates and more. But there is an end and the adult that emerges can be amazing!with her husband, son, 2 dogs and 5 cats. She’s an amazing woman who I admire as much as I’ve admired anyone on the planet… and she is crazy talented. (A lot of the posts here are her work. I link some below.)
Now let’s go back a few years.  29  runaways at age 16, many out of state. Drugs, alcohol, police, youth facilities, car chases, pregnancy, court appearances, and weeks on end not knowing if our child was alive or dead. She was our troubled teen and needless to say, it was difficult times for my husband Roy Rivers and I which also included several lost jobs because when Jenny was on the run Roy could not be out looking for her.
Yet here she is, this incredible woman who not only grew from her experiences but taught her mom and dad along the way. She is honest, empathetic, compassionate, and wise beyond her years. She also has a killer sense of humor. During those sleepless nights as parents, we never saw this person coming out of those troubled times. Nor did we see how close our relationship would be.
And though at the time we would have opted out at any given moment, we would not trade any piece of the person she is because of those experiences and I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t either.

When I think back on my life it does appear to be the really hard times that I grew and learned from. That seems to be part of the human condition as a quite I once saw validated: “Pain Instructs”.  It also seems to be how we learn to be less judgmental. We only put ourselves in another’s shoes when we’ve had to walk in them ourselves. Like I said, on this journey, Roy and I also learned a great deal and became better people.  Roy talked about one such lesson in “How I Learned to Never Judge a Book By It’s Cover.”  Below are a few of the tips that we attribute to why things turned out so well for all concerned.

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We've deal with our share of troubled teens. Runaways, drugs, police, court dates and more. But there is an end and the adult that emerges can be amazing!

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Update

Front and center Dec 2018 with her two brothers, husband and son after doing a Escape Room together.

Brother Adam, Husband Nick, Jenny, Son Ashton, Brother Charles.

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Jennifer’s Book

Me & Myself a Love StoryCheck out Jennifer’s beautifully illustrated book Me & Myself, A Love Story  on Amazon. It speaks about the importance of self-worth. It’s a wonderful message for older kids and adults alike.blank630x20
 It’s written and illustrated by her and available in paperback or Kindle.
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Jennifer’s Work

Just a handful of some of her work helping out on the blog.

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Tips for ParentsTroubled Teens Make Awesome Adults - Hope for Struggling Parents 10

  • Know your kids. Know who their friends are, where they are, what they are studying in school etc.
  • Spend at least 15 minutes a day talking with and focusing only on them, without judgement.
  • Give unconditional love. No matter what they do you love them, even if you don’t love their actions.
  • When you have to discipline do it out of purpose, not anger.
  • Shower your kids with love and acceptance every chance you get.
  • Do not yell or use physical violence in any situation. Walk away until you can be calm.
  • Do not be condescending.  Be as logical as you can. And yes, that’s hard to do.
  • Never, ever give up.

Our daughter told us in later years that even when things were at their worst she knew we were there for her. It didn’t matter what she had done she could come to us when she needed too. We were her safe haven. This is not about condoning bad behavior. This is about unconditional love for your child.  Some of these kids will experience incredibly harsh aspects of life.  Knowing that mom and dad are there no matter what they do, will save them.

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Obviously there are some serious dangers depending on what your child is doing.  All you can do is the best you can to keep them safe. (Roy used to nail her windows shut so she could not get out at night!) The worst can of course happen. But by far the largest portion of these kids grow up without serious damage. Keep that in mind.blank630x20

Final Thoughts

There is indeed great hope for those of you who struggle with your own teens. This time will  pass and some amazing growth can be had along the way for you and your child. People, like clay, are sculpted by their experiences.  Roy said something years back that I’ve always remembered.   “Our choices can teach us who we are and who we are not.”   We’ve found that both are incredibly important.

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We've deal with our share of troubled teens. Runaways, drugs, police, court dates and more. But there is an end and the adult that emerges can be amazing!

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  • We've deal with our share of troubled teens. Runaways, drugs, police, court dates and more. But there is an end and the adult that emerges can be amazing! blank630x20

17 Comments

  1. Great post and so, so true. We have to give them unconditional love no matter what. It is this and this alone that has given me hope to move forward in the past. I’ve got two young men and two teen girls so I am not done yet. Thank you for your words of wisdom. Nancy, I am hosting a new link party and I would be honored if you joined us. It is called Sweet inspiration and it runs Friday till Tuesday.

    Reply
  2. This is so true. My brother was *this close* to juvenile detention as a teenager, but now he’s a married father of 4 and one of the best dads I’ve ever seen. He’s also an incredibly mature, responsible, adult who stands strong for his beliefs. My mom told me that one time, when he was at his worst, she was praying for my brother, thinking that he was doomed. In the middle of her prayer, God told her that he would turn out just fine. That was what got her through the rest of his teen years.

    Reply
    1. Nancy Author

      What a wonderful story. That’s all most parents need… is a little hope to help them through those times. Most kids turn out great and with better perspective than many. Thanks for sharing Hannah. Ü

      Reply
  3. Our youngest son produced many grey hairs for my husband and I. He never ran away or was into drugs (that we know of), but all of a sudden we were the “parents from Hell”, he dropped out of all sports in HS, wanted to move out of the house before he graduated (which we did NOT allow), and on and on it went. After he graduated, he moved out within a week and over the next few years he grew up real fast! He’s married, has one son and another on the way and he’s a fabulous “dad”. We never gave up on him and never brought up things he did wrong, while he was going through this. This is a wonderful post for all parents going through these years with their teenagers!

    Reply
    1. Nancy Author

      It’s stories like yours Carol that give other parents hope. Its so hard to see a way out when you’re in the middle of it and pull of fear. But most of them do come out and are better for it. Especially when they have parents who love and support them no matter what, as you did. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. Ü

      Reply
  4. Lucy

    I had biological parents who tortured me for the first 16 yrs of my life so
    it’s really good for me to read of your experiences and of how you love
    Jenny and are committed to her no matter what she puts you through.
    I’m so glad that you have such a strong bond now and I hope Jennie’s
    own children are fortunate enough not to experience agonising teenage years.

    Reply
    1. Nancy Author

      We don’t always get the parents we need, do we… I’m so sorry that you weren’t treated with the unconditional love that you, and every child, deserves. I wish you nothing but a future of peace and joy. Thank you for stopping by Lucy.

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      1. Lucy

        Thank you Nancy for acknowledging my post, it means a lot.
        I am lucky in that although I received no love from the BP’s unconditional or otherwise. I was able to gather enough crumbs other places that I grew up able to express love. My late husband assured me that I was able to love unconditionally and now I’m supporting my widowed BIL on his journey through dementia.
        No matter how hard life is, with a tiny flame of hope it can be turned around and be a blazing beacon of good.

        Reply
        1. Nancy Author

          I very much admire those like you, who despite terrible experiences as children, overcome them. You express it very eloquently. Its always a joy to hear of those who overcome and turn things around. Be well!

          Reply
  5. Wow, thank you for such an honest and insightful post! A lot of parents are afraid to admit that their child/teenager is troubled, and because of their denial, the poor behavior gets accepted, rather than corrected. We are going through something similar with our 9 year old daughter, and although she’s limited right now, she’s amazed us at the things she’s attempted and has gotten away with in the past. Your tips and insight are very much appreciated as we continue to help our daughter get and stay on the right track!

    Reply
    1. Nancy Author

      Thank you so much Monique for the kind words. It can be pretty scary when you’re in the middle of it. They are starting younger and younger I fear, mostly a society thing. Being calm and dedicated with go far. I wish you and your daughter nothing but the utmost best on this journey!

      Reply
  6. Your wisdom is so valuable for parents of teens (or children of any age). I’m the mother of three and a parent educator. Many times I’ve had to remind myself (out loud) to just hang in there and keep loving them – that’s what makes all the difference. Thank you for sharing at the #ThisIsHowWeRoll Link Party

    Reply
  7. Christie wilkins

    I knew Jenny then and she has become a wonderful person. We loved her than and do today. She babysat our children and even during her struggling we believed in her

    Reply

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