Grow Your Faith motherhood

6 Truths For Moms To Remember, When Army-Crawling Through The Teen Years

Raising christian teens

Unless you’re homeschooling your teen right now or live on a remote island, chances are you’ve been dealing with the stuff of nightmares we never could’ve fathomed just five years ago. Out-of-control gender dysphoria issues, Pride flags flying high in every classroom and town campus, online dangers and addictions, an influx of social anxiety and isolation problems, and even more serious issues like the epidemic of self-harm and suicidality running rampant amongst 13-18 year-olds. By this point most moms of teens have assuredly daydreamed about moving to a land far, far away from the mind-boggling insanity our kids know as normal. I’d happily harvest coconuts for the rest of my years if it meant imploding SnapChat.

I wish our Christian values and protective measures could form a force field against all of it…but it’s been getting’ real over here, and though I’m still deep in the trenches, here’s what I’ve learned so far, and what keeps me going, day after day…

Truth #1: You’re Nothing But A Soldier

I have to remind myself, every single day, that my primary role right now is not a friend, Uber driver, cook, personal shopper or even a caretaker. As a Christian mom trying to navigate my teens through a world seemingly losing its ever-loving mind (‘tuck friendly” swimsuits…really Target?!) we are first and foremost soldiers. We’re on the front lines in a spiritual war for the souls of our children. Period.

Our teens are simply too ill-equipped, underdeveloped and easily-influenced to be left to their own devices. It’s so easy to lose heart and give in when the eye rolls come and the refusals to participate in family time mercilessly endure. It’s easy to cave when they’re begging to keep their bedroom door closed at night, or assuring you they “just wanna be friends” with the girl at school into crystals and “white magic,” or take the parental controls of HBO Max.

But we can’t. It’s misery at times, but we can’t. Instead, we Navy Seal it up, every day, and hold the line.  We engage in daily battles in order to win the war.  This kind of rhetoric might sound a bit hyperbolic to moms of littles, but moms of teens are most likely “Amen’in.” Tough love is true love. And just as God disciplines those he loves (oh so much discipline) so we should hold to the standards, protective measures, and parameters we’ve implemented to keep our kids safe, whole, and walking in truth. Which leads to my next point…

Truth #2: And If We’re Soldiers, Our Greatest Weapon Is Prayer

Raising teens can feel beyond overwhelming. Especially for those raising a teen for the first time. There’s always a new app to monitor, media hack to navigate, and some new perverted attack on our kids’ innocence. I swear when I realized porn could be accessed from the DS I prayed for Jesus’ immediate return.

But if we aren’t covering our kids daily in prayer, casting down the work of darkness in their lives, praying they’ll not only resist temptation but have a thirst for truth, no one else will be. We must become prayer warriors for the sake of our kids. We have to pray daily for good and open convos during those silent drives to school. Pray continually for good friendships to form in their lives. Pray for a deep sense of confidence that repels peer pressure. Pray for purity and wholeness over their sexuality.

It would straight up take a day to name all the worries and concerns we have for our teens, right? Sometimes when things are really rough, we can fall into the enemy’s trap of feeling too hopeless, exhausted or defeated to pray. Maybe we feel like we failed, or didn’t try hard enough and feel guilty or undeserving to ask for help. Do it anyways.

That said, God loves our kids even more than we do, so we should never succumb to the religious “works-based” trap of thinking our prayer investment alone warrants God’s protection. He’s in control no matter how jaw-droppingly insane this can feel. But when we adopt a prayer warrior mentality, we’ll feel empowered, equipped and supported on our teen parenting journey.

Truth #3: Always Be Kind And Loving, Even When You Feel Like Setting Their X Box On Fire

This shizzle is not for the faint of heart. As much as our hearts bleed for these hormonal buggers, it can feel nearly impossible to stay patient, calm, empathetic and all-loving when they pretty much act like they don’t give a crap. Just keepin’ it real. We’ve all lost it from time to time. I still shudder remembering a recent loss of temper, shrieking “you don’t get to treat me like garbage!!” when my son refused to hug me on Mother’s Day. But we won’t win our kids’ hearts, or maintain respect and authority if we let their ridiculous behavior derail us.

Honestly, I thank all the narcissists I’ve dated in my twenties for my ability to mother with selflessness and kindness, despite them acting like emotional thugs (you work everything for our good, Lord!) As much as we might assume to what’s going on their psyches, we can’t fully understand what it’s like walking this dumpster fire of a world in their shoes. Pray for empathy, discernment and gentleness. And if all else fails, think of how much grace Jesus extended during that season of your life when we most definitely didn’t deserve it (we all have ‘em!).

Truth #4: Conversations Are Key, Even When You Dread Them

Talking openly and vulnerably with my kids has always been such a struggle for me. These friends of mine getting their teens to open up like little iPhone-toting Pandora’s Boxes during weekly sit-downs might as well be the Dali Llama. My talks go something like this:

Me: “So. How’s everything been going?  You’ve been up in your room a lot. Everything okay?”

Son: “I’m good.”

Me: “Sigh. Okay. Tacos will be ready at 6.” [insert visual of me headed for the dark chocolate]

If my kids get even a whiff of impending convo, they scatter like cockroaches to a flame. But despite how unnatural it feels, how award it is, or how ardently they assure there’s nothing to talk about, we gotta push forward for two reasons: (1) they need to know that they’re on our minds, and we care (2) once and a while, we strike gold. Without divulging too much, I’ve had gut wrenching, tear-filled, open-heart conversations with my kids that started out with a simple question.

There’s SO MUCH going on in their hearts, especially for boys that tend to bottle up more. What helps me to stay motivated is understanding if they don’t hear my voice consistently, the voice of the enemy, of friends, teachers and influencers vying for their affection and attention might drown out truth.

Truth #5: Remember The Recurring Nightmare You Were At 15

Whenever I ponder the struggles, attitudes and issues I’m going through with my teens, I usually take pause and think “well. At least he’s not as bad as I was.” I know there are some saints out there who were all besties with their moms at 16, never once sneaking in beer, or jumping off the roof to escape curfew. I for one, was a mean, confused, venomous ball of rebellious anger that truthfully tortured my mother and all authorities in my wake. (pre-Christian. Much grace). I don’t believe in karmatic retribution, but sometimes I feel God’s like, “well, at least ya know there’s hope, right?”

Just as we overcame and outgrew our difficult seasons, this too, shall pass. Someday they’ll mature and become healthy, Jesus loving adults who’ll proactively hug on Mother’s Day (I claim it, Lord!). I’ll even take an extra buoyant leap of faith and wager some day we WILL laugh together about all this ridiculousness when they’re older. But for now, it’s day by day survival.

Truth #6: Don’t Let Fear And Worry Rob Your Joy

I’ve been dealing with some serious things I can’t expound on for my kids’ privacy reasons, but I am assuredly in the thick of it right now. Sometimes I worry so much, it feels impossible to fall asleep.  I’m constantly fighting off the temptation to be angry my children are growing up in such a ludicrous culture, and it’s easy to focus more on hating the darkness than believing in the good.

It’s an easy temptation, but don’t allow fear and worry steal your joy. Focus on the nuggets of good, and the continual daily prayers that are being answered when we stop to recognize them. Show those around you that there is a way to rejoice, remain worshipful and have faith, even when we’re in the fire. The devil may have taken Target shopping (on week 5 of #BoycottTarget!) and REM sleep from us, for now…. but there’s a ton to be grateful for and a way to remain steady, when we keep our eyes on Jesus, and focus on His promises.

Last bit of advice. Don’t go the teen journey alone. Share your struggles with family and trusted Christian friends who’ll partner with you in prayer. Seek out counseling or advise from church youth leaders or other Christian friends who’ve raised teens. The more we talk about our issues, the more we realize we’re not alone, and there is hope.  Here‘s an amazing list of resources and books I highly recommend…

-Jesus, Sex & Gender

-Conqueror Series

-Plugged In Parenting: How to Raise Media-Savvy Kids with Love, Not War

-Countercultural Parenting: Building Character in a World of Compromise


Jessica Kastner is an award-winning journalist, author and contributor to the Christian Broadcasting Network, Huff Post, God TV, Beliefnet, Crosswalk and many more. When she's not burning dinner, daydreaming about the beach, she can be found on the trampoline with her copious amount of children, wishing she'd ordered the turbo shot.

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