My Teen Is Lonely, And I’m Learning The Best Ways To Help Her

My Teen Is Lonely And I'm Learning How To Help Her

“I am comfortable in my loneliness.” These were the words my teenage daughter recently uttered. They pierced my heart because, as a mother, all you want is for your child to thrive and flourish. Instead, it felt like my daughter was a crushed flower, and the worst part was feeling like I was in the passenger seat, unable to do much to help her. Realizing that I had to let time take its course and allow her to sort out these feelings on her own was not easy. Rather than jumping in, which I was so accustomed to doing, I had to sit back and watch things unfold naturally. As my daughter maneuvered her way through these emotions, I knew that letting her know that I was there for her and affirming my love for her was important. But for me, the challenging part was knowing that I couldn’t take away her feelings of loneliness.

As mothers, we spend so much of our lives trying to give the best to our children. Then the teenage years hit, and it seems like we are caught inside a tornado, carrying us through a range of emotions and leaving us scratching our heads and wondering where we went wrong.  Our lives seem to be turned upside down. This in-between stage, from childhood to adulthood, is filled with so many layers of complexity. Sometimes, all you can do is wait it out and ride the waves without letting them consume you.

As I wrestle with the different emotions that well up inside of me after my daughter’s recent disclosure, I have been thinking about how I can make things better. It seems like so much of the past few months have been like a game of tug-of-war, trying to figure out how much to give and how much I need to pull back. Yet, at the moment, it seems like none of that even matters. What matters is how my daughter is feeling. Her mental health is what matters. Somehow, the things I clung to so tightly no longer seem important. I am learning to let go of “my way” of doing things because when I see the listlessness in my daughter’s eyes, suddenly, those things don’t mean anything.

My teen is lonely, and I’m learning the best ways to help her.

In the process of trying to make sense of everything, I am learning not to let my mind go to those unwanted dark places where I paint a bleak future based on my present situation.  I know that is a lie, and I am choosing not to believe it. The last few months have taught me that just because today is difficult, that doesn’t mean tomorrow will be.

I’m learning to be more hopeful. I’m learning to ask more questions instead of being quick to give answers because, to be honest, sometimes I just don’t have any answers, and the advice I give doesn’t help the situation—it can make things worse. I’m learning that it is better to be slow to speak and quick to listen. There is so much more to learn when I listen. I am learning that the best way to approach this ‘transition’ stage is to be there for my teenager—love her unconditionally, even when she rebels, even when she hurts me with her words.

I am learning not to take it personally. And more than anything, she needs to know there is a safe place that she can turn to. A place she can go to when she feels lost, alone, or unsure of what to do. A place where her voice is heard, not silenced or judged. Our children need a listening ear, a place of love, not judgment or unsolicited advice.

Giving my daughter space to work things out on her own is what she needs. I am realizing that I can’t jump in and ‘rescue’ her from these feelings. My job is simply to be there for her—to listen with compassion and love her unconditionally. This is the outlook I need to have, especially in this unpredictable season of our lives. I may not always know how to do that, and I may mess up sometimes, but every day is a new opportunity to love her in ways that make her feel valued and safe. 

My teen is lonely, and I’m learning the best ways to help her. One day, the twinkle in her eyes will once again return as joy and excitement fill her heart. Until then, I choose to listen with love and be there for her in the ways that she needs. I am her place of unconditional love. I am her safe place.

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