This is a really good article written by Mark Gregston
When a teenager’s behavior is way out of line, when he or she crosses established boundaries and offends us and makes us angry, it is easy to think he or she doesn’t deserve grace. But that may be exactly the right time to give it.
Grace – given at just the right moment – has the power to change the direction of any struggle, and may ultimately bring it to an end. Grace can bring healing, restoration, and redirect your teen’s path.
A biblical definition of grace is this: God’s undeserved favor and forgiveness when we’ve chosen the unforgivable. In human terms, grace is an act of kindness, love, and forgiveness in the face of bad behavior or poor choices. For your teen, it can even extend to outright rebellion and rotten attitudes.
I recently worked with a teen who rarely received grace at home. He was angry, all the time, and spewed anger on everyone and everything around him, including the side of my van. Instead of having him arrested for bashing my vehicle with a baseball bat, I sat him down and told him he was forgiven, he wouldn’t be arrested, and that we were going to work things out differently from now on.
As we began to talk, tears came to his eyes. He had never experienced that kind of forgiveness in the face of his anger, and he couldn’t believe I didn’t have the police waiting to take him to jail. Giving him grace, at just the right moment, went a long way to change the direction he was headed, and in the end, after a lot of work, he successfully completed the Heartlight program.
Grace When it is Least Deserved
How do you know exactly the right time to extend grace? How about when it’s least deserved? I guess that’s how you’ll know it’s grace – because it won’t feel good – in fact, it may be enough to put you in a really bad mood. I didn’t enjoy having a smashed-in van. I didn’t like having to pay for the repairs. But that’s the nature of grace. It doesn’t feel good when you’re giving it, it’s costly, but you are never more like Christ than when you offer it.
As believers, we should understand grace giving. After all, didn’t God love us so much that while we were sinners He sent His Son to die for us? He took our place for the penalty of sin. That kind of grace didn’t come easily, but we can learn from it and imitate it.
Grace is Not Meant to Enable Bad Behavior
Seeking grace in parenting doesn’t mean we allow bad behavior to continue unchecked. That’s not grace. That’s enabling or empowering our child to keep up their bad behavior without fear of consequences. As I’ve talked about many times, the pain of consequences is what causes all of us to take notice of our bad behavior -so we make a change. Some say that pain is a terrible part of God’s creation, but the fact is, without it we’d never change. Pain keeps us in check and tells us when something is wrong.
Grace Can be Misunderstood by Others
The biblical story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-22) is a good illustration of a father who extended grace without enabling. It wasn’t easy to see his son leave, and as the story goes, the son only came to his senses when he had wasted all of his inheritance and hit bottom. The father still welcomed him back into the family, but to our knowledge, he didn’t offer the son more money or enable him to go back to an unfruitful lifestyle.
But giving grace isn’t always popular. Remember the sibling in the story – the good son? He questioned his father’s decision to extend grace to his prodigal brother. After all, he had stayed behind to help the family while the prodigal was off seeking pleasure. Even though the decision was unpopular, the father gave grace and most likely did so not just because his son returned, but because the he wisely saw that his son had finally come to his senses.
Remember, Giving Grace is…
Most often needed when it is least deserved
Doesn’t directly benefit the giver
Can be misunderstood by others
Doesn’t enable bad behavior to continue
Is best when it is offered at just the right time
Comes from a desire for a new direction, understanding your child’s heart, and his need to be restored.
We are never more like Christ than when we give our teen grace in the face of a struggle. And, giving grace when it surely is not deserved may change the direction of the struggle, or even bring it to an end.
About the Author
Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and director of Heartlight, a residential counseling center for struggling teens located in Longview, Texas. He has been married to his wife, Jan, for 39 years, has two kids, and 4 grandkids. He lives in Longview, Texas with the Heartlight staff, 60 high school kids, 25 horses, his dog, Stitch, 2 llamas, and a prized donkey named Toy. His past involvement as a youth pastor, Young Life area director, and living with over 2,500 teens, has prepared Mark to share his insights and wisdom about parenting pre-teens and adolescents.
Visit www.HeartlightMinistries.org to find out more about the residential counseling center for teens, or call Heartlight directly at 903. 668.2173. For more information and helpful other resources for moms and dads, visit www.ParentingTodaysTeens.org, It’s filled with ideas and tools to help you become a more effective parent. Here you will also find a station near you where you can listen to the Parenting Today’s Teens radio broadcast, or download the podcast of the most recent programs.
You must love the Most High God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind. Luke 10:27
I came across this article today by Mark Gregston. It is well written and came on heels of my own daughter betraying my trust.
Last evening she told me she had a ride to and from church for a bible study. I changed my plans accordingly and did not plan on picking her up. She contacted me 1 hour into it while I was already busy with something and told me I needed to pick her up. I told her I couldn't unless I dropped everything. She begged and begged and said she'd do anything. I told her I just want her to be respectful and loving at home. She said she would and promised and I dropped everything to pick her up.
First thing this morning that trust was broken when she became disrespectful and back talked me because she couldn't find something. When i confronted her about it, she told me it was no big deal for me to pick her up and for me to get over it.
And it got worse and it broke my trust. Now to read this article and try to rebuild and to never loose that connection with my daughter.
Picking Up The Broken Pieces of Shattered Trust
Written by Mark Gregston. Posted in Anger, parenting communications, parenting style, teen anger
Picking Up The Broken Pieces of Shattered TrustTrust is a valuable and fragile commodity. In the economy of family relationships, trust is both given and received as parents and teens gingerly pass it back and forth. When these trust transactions are handled properly, relationships grow and thrive. But Mom and Dad—don’t hold on to that commodity too tightly, because your teenage son or daughter will break it. It’s really not a question of “if,” it’s a question of “when.” At some point, you’ll place your trust in the hands of your teenage child, and they’ll drop it and shatter it into pieces.
I’m not just being dramatic here. After four decades of working with, talking and listening to teens and their parents, I know from experience that kids will make mistakes. Disappoint you. Maybe even break your heart. And this is regardless of temperament, personality, or even consequences. But if you’re prepared for having your trust broken, you’ll be miles of ahead of the parents who are still sitting there open-mouthed and shocked.
So how do you prepare and deal with the disappointment coming your way?
Keep the Relationship
Here are the usual responses I hear from parents when their teen blows it—
I can’t believe you didn’t know better!
I thought we had a good relationship!
I don’t know if I can ever trust you again!
How could you do such a thing? You know better!
I don’t know why you would disrespect me in this way.
These types of phrases express your emotions in the moment, but can be misinterpreted by your teen. When a child breaks your trust, don’t let the mistake interfere with your relationship. When you tell your son, “I thought we were close,” what he hears is, “Our relationship is ruined.” In your daughter’s mind, saying “I’m so disappointed with you right now,” is interpreted to mean, “I can’t love you.” Of course, as adults, we realize that teens may read something into our words that we didn’t put there. But perception is nine-tenths of reality. And caught in the moment when his mistakes are being unearthed, a teen may hear your words of anger and hurt as an indicator that he’s lost some of your love and compassion.
Always move towards your children, even when they have betrayed your trust. Explain clearly that there is nothing they could do to make you love them more, and nothing they could do to make you love them less. Don’t let their mistake impact the connection between you and your son or daughter. The best way to avoid this is to tell them openly—“I’m upset right now, but I want you to know, I love you. And nothing you can do will ever change that!”
Acknowledge the Pain
Just because you move toward your child when they break your trust, doesn’t mean you have to hide the pain. I get hurt by kids all the time. I’ve been lied too, stolen from, sworn at and used. I may put on a strong demeanor, but inside I’m crushed. There is no way to dull the pain when your teenager breaks your heart. So be disappointed. Be upset. Be angry, even. But talk to someone about what you’re experiencing. You can’t bottle up those emotions, and your child may not be able to handle hearing how they’ve injured you. Grab a spouse, a friend, a pastor or a counselor, and let them know, “what my child did really hurt me!” Get it out in the open and let those wounds heal in the clean air of a safe relationship. If you let your feelings fester inside you, the pain will build and you’ll slowly start resenting your teen for the mistakes they’ve made. Acknowledge the hurt and the frustration and deal with it, and you’ll have the emotional energy to return to your teen with love and grace.
Set Up Your Beliefs
Sometimes a child will break our trust without even knowing about it. It happens when we cling to unspoken rules or guidelines in the house, and expect our teens to instinctively understand them. Trust me; if that’s the way your home operates, you’ll find yourself disappointed over and over again.
Even if your child is 17 and ready to leave home, I recommend setting up a belief system for your house. Sit down and clearly define and discuss the rules and expectations every person in the house must adhere to. That includes curfews, dating parameters, the kind of language spoken in the house, and the use of social media. Openly state what you believe about honesty, respect, compassion and having fun with the family. Once you’ve set up your specific belief system, follow up by explaining some pre-determined consequences that will come into effect should those rules be broken.
This takes away the surprise when your teen strays out of bounds and has to deal with the results. Once household rules and beliefs are understood, the penalties won’t seem to come out of left field.
The kids at Heartlight understand that the rules we have in place are for their own protection and the safety of others. They also understand the consequences of breaking those rules. I have to stifle a laugh when a kid comes up to me and says, “Well, I know I have yard cleanup duty this week.”
“Why is that?”
“Well, because I was disrespectful to some of the staff.”
They may not like all the rules we have in place, but our teens don’t really complain about the results, because they knew ahead of time what was expected and what the consequences are should they go rogue.
Allow Dreams to Be Crushed
We all have hopes and aspirations for our children. No dad wants his daughter to be an unwed teen mother. No mom is hoping her son will spend some time in jail. Our dreams for our teens include visions of happy families, productive lives and meaningful careers. But sometimes when a teen breaks our trust, a dream may die. The goals we set for our son or daughter start to wither away. That’s a rather hopeless feeling, and it compounds the pain.
But Mom and Dad, let me encourage you to let those dreams die. God has a plan for your teen, and it may be radically different than what you had in mind.
I’ll always remember getting a call from my son telling me that he and his wife were getting a divorce due to an affair. My heart was crushed as I watched my son break not only my trust, but his wife’s as well. My dream for him was leveled in a few minutes on a brief phone call. But God redeemed my son, and now his ex-wife is married to a good man, my son is married to a lovely young lady, and I have some beautiful grandbabies to prove it!
Here’s the point: God can take your broken trust and crushed dreams and transform them into something beyond your wildest expectations. Maybe the life you envisioned for your son or daughter is not coming to pass. That’s okay. God is still in control, and He’s not finished with you or your child yet. Let go of those aspirations, and find hope in what God is doing in your teen’s life.
I wish I could give you practical steps to prevent your child from breaking your trust. But that is never going to happen. As parents, all we can do is prepare for and deal with mistakes as they happen; moving towards our children in the midst of the pain and allowing God to guide our future.
A new pilot study testing “rapid” peanut desensitization has resulted in 92 percent of subjects being able to tolerate 160 to 400 times more peanut than they could at the study’s outset.
Published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the study’s aim was to test whether combining the asthma drug omalizumab – known by the brand name Xolair – with controlled peanut exposures would speed up and/or improve the process of oral immunotherapy or OIT. In OIT, the patient consumes tiny, then increasing amounts of an allergen with the aim of becoming desensitized to it.
Though the study was small, the results were impressive. The 13 participants, all highly allergic to peanut, were pre-treated with Xolair for three months. Then, after just one day of OIT treatment, all of them were able to tolerate 992 mg of peanut flour. After an average of eight weeks, 12 out of 13 patients were able to tolerate 4,000 mg of peanut flour, or roughly 10 peanuts. At this point, treatment with Xolair stopped, but the subjects continued to eat 4,000 mg of peanut per day.
Six months later, they were all able to tolerate about 20 peanuts without reacting. Depending on the patient, this represented an increase of 160 to 400 times what they could tolerate when the study began.
By using the combination of Xolair and OIT, the patients were able to become desensitized much more rapidly than previous studies have shown. For example, a previous peanut desensitization study that didn’t use Xolair found that it took an average of 30 weeks for subjects to reach doses of 500 to 2,000 mg of peanut. With Xolair incorporated into the treatment method, not only was the amount of time required cut by more than half, but the amount of peanut tolerated was more than doubled.
Xolair works by preventing IgE antibodies (the antibodies involved in allergy) from attaching to mast cells in the body, which is an important step in the process that leads to allergic reaction. Xolair is typically used for allergic asthma.
However, there were some drawbacks to the treatment: 2 percent of peanut ingestions were associated with reactions. While most of these were mild and easily controlled with antihistamines, three patients had reactions that required epinephrine. However, considering how quickly the peanut doses were increased, and that the patients were a high-risk group to begin with, the study authors note that overall the reactions were “surprisingly mild”.
The next step for this research is to conduct a much larger study. If results are similar, this could represent a giant step forward towards a food allergy treatment.