Has your teen ever been hurt by the actions of another teenager? Maybe it’s a friendship or a dating relationship that came to a close, resulting in a sense of rejection. People are involved; emotions are there, too. And sometimes those emotions become weight that seems awfully heavy to bear.
We want to stand up for our blossoming adults, shield them from the wear and tear life’s painful wounds place on them. After all, we are their parents, their providers and protectors. When our teen’s tender heart is scraped raw by rejection, our mama bear reaction often wants to barrel into the situation and “do something about it,” doesn’t it? But as Christians, godly wisdom doesn’t always lead us the same way.
When rejection targets our teens, here are ten ways to come alongside and encourage them:
1. I Am Sorry
It’s amazing what power those three little words offer. They acknowledge our teen is hurting. Our budding adult is learning to deal with their very real emotions and reactions. When we offer “I’m sorry” and good eye contact, we’re letting them know we care. Those three words help build a solid parent/child relationship.
2. May I Give You a Hug?
Not all teens like hugs, but many find comfort in them – even those who seem “tough” on the outside. After all, teens are no different from adults. Offering a hug to our hurting son or daughter shows them compassion. It’s code for “I care and hurt for you.”
3. Offer a Listening Ear
“You okay? Do you want to talk about it?” often opens the door for listening. When they’re ready, our teens will share their hurt and thoughts about the situation. It’s important we simply sit and listen – and continue trying if we’ve opened mouth and inserted foot in the past.
So, then, my beloved brothers, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; James 1:19
4. Refuse to Belittle or Bad-Mouth the Offending Party
Sometimes our parenting flesh is ready to recoil and find retribution, isn’t it? But what if we offer words of encouragement and support for our teen while refusing to belittle or bad-mouth the offending party? After all, the other person was made in God’s likeness and image, too. We’re wise to be careful to encourage space for grace, prayer, and forgiveness - not words of retribution or hate that could fester and hurt our child’s heart.
Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but only what is good for building others up as the need may be, that it may give grace to those who hear. Eph 4:29
5. Go Ahead – Buy the Ice Cream
Let’s be real. Ice cream doesn’t solve anything, but there are some situations when it’s the perfect salve to soothe the hurtful woes. Several months ago I changed my diet, waving goodbye to ice cream and emotional eating. But when one of my teens found themselves hurting due to rejection’s sting, guess what they requested? Ice cream! “No” hit the ground running, with healthy eating habits in tact, but my answer somehow morphed into “Yes” shortly afterward. Boy, am I glad! Ice cream offered opportunity for compassion. It broke the rules for the cause of relationship building. And that teen has thanked me more than once since our late night run to the grocery store.
6. Encourage Your Teen to Guard Their Heart
Once our teens have opportunity to share their feelings and woes, a door will likely open. It may be a day or two later, but it’s a good door. When we open it, we find opportunity to speak into our teen’s life. It’s then that we can encourage them to guard or “keep” their heart, not follow it. By guarding it, they take captive their thoughts, offer forgiveness, and set the situation in prayer. Our teen may or may not grasp those opportunities, but as parents, it’s the perfect time to encourage them.
Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23
7. Remind Your Teen: You are God’s Work
God hand-knit our teen. His work in them is good – regardless of what others may say. It’s good to remind them that God knows the plans He has for them. They are who they are by plan. Trust God.
For you formed my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. PS 139:13
8. The Other Party is God’s Creation, Too
Pray for the other person or persons. God has plans for them as well. Just as our Creator knit our teen, He knit the others as well. And just as He has plans for our teen, our Father has plans for “them.” When we encourage our teens to look at the situation in a bigger picture format, it often helps.
God created man in his own image. In God’s image he created him; male and female he created them. Gen 1:27
9. Reconcile if Appropriate
Sometimes questions will linger. Our teen will sit in uncertainly. A simple conversation with the offending party might do wonders to muffle rejection’s roar.
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. Proverbs 25:11
10. Ask for Wisdom
If we ask, our Father offers wisdom freely. He’ll show our teen where they’re harboring ill will in their heart. He’ll guide them in forgiveness. He’ll strengthen them to forgive. And the Lord will continue to light the path for the future, like He always does. After all, rejection has nothing on God Almighty.
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach; and it will be given to him. James 1:5
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Kristi Woods is a writer and speaker passionate about seeing women walk deeper with God. She clicks her words of encouragement at http://www.KristiWoods.net regularly and is published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and Premonitions as well as on Proverbs 31 Encouragement for Today and on various blogs. Kristi, her retired-from-the-military husband, and their three children survived a nomadic, military lifestyle and have now set roots in Oklahoma. Connect with Kristi here: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.