8 Ways for Parents in Pain to Be Emotionally Healthy

Are Trauma and Stress Choking the Life out of You?

I was a mess. My daughter was living on the streets, sleeping in parks and friend’s cars, out of control in her alcohol and drug abuse. Angry and grief-stricken, embarrassed and ashamed, my heart was full of guilt and fear. Unable to sleep or eat much, the stress was getting to me. My emotional health was seriously compromised.

One day I heard someone liken our hearts to a garden. Following that analogy, for websiteI realized mine was full of weeds and thorns. Major work needed to be done to keep my heart-garden from having the life choked out of it. If neglected it any longer, it would dry up altogether. Nothing healthy or attractive would remain.

Can you relate? Does it feel like trauma and stress are choking the life out of you? Pause a few minutes to take inventory of your heart-garden. Are weeds running rampant; are plants withering from neglect?

If you feel dead inside, overwhelmed, and depressed you may have become emotionally unhealthy. If so, it’s time to rid yourself of what’s killing you.

But please, don’t despair. With proper care you’re going to be okay.

When I work in my flower beds, the first thing I must do is assess the problems. If I’m not sure, I call on a professional. They look things over and tell me the remedy.

The same is true with our hearts. These are a few issues I identified in mine:

  • Fear and worry
  • Anger
  • Bitterness and Resentment
  • Unforgiveness
  • Isolation
  • Depression
  • Self-absorption and self-pity
  • Cynicism

Do you recognize any in yours?

Left unattended, these weeds of the heart tend to take over. As soon as you’re aware of them beginning to spread, it’s a warning sign. You have to get busy and do something before they run rampant and do more damage. The longer you wait, the more work is required. The same is true with a garden or lawn. Neglect only makes the issues harder to deal with.

Please don’t delay. Take a close look at your heart. Ask yourself, are any of these beginning to cause me a problem? Each has the power to harm you and damage the relationship with your child.

These 8 things helped me stay emotionally healthy. I hope they help you too.

1) Be honest with yourself about the weeds you struggle with.

2) Talk openly with a friend who’s a good listener and won’t judge you.

4) Write out your feelings in a journal.

5) Talk with a counselor/pastor/priest/clergy-person for extra support and help. You might only see them once, but it could make a big difference.

6) If you’re an artist draw, paint or create something that expresses how you feel.

I’m not very good with my hands so I made a poster that showed what my life stress freewas like before and after the problems surfaced with my daughter. I wrote adjectives and cut pictures from magazines, etc.  It turned out to be a very insightful activity that led me to explore my inner world more than I had previously.

7) Talk to God. Give your struggles and feelings to Him in prayer. Ask for courage and for His healing touch.

8) Turn to the Bible. God will use it to encourage and strengthen you.

“When I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me the strength I need” (Psalm 138:3).

Thank you, God, for caring about the condition of my heart. I finally see how damaged my emotional well-being has become. Give me determination to do the hard work of weeding my inner garden. I need Your strength. Please come quickly to help me. I need You so much. Amen.

*What would you add to my list? Please share your ideas in comments.


5 thoughts on “8 Ways for Parents in Pain to Be Emotionally Healthy

  1. I m curious of why talking to God and reading the Bible are the last suggestions and not the first ones?

    • Iraida,
      Thank you for reaching out to us and posting a comment. We hope you found the article helpful and informative. We’re sorry if you are a hurting parent and living in the pain of having a child or children making destructive decisions and behaviors. It’s not a pleasant journey to say the least.

      As to your curiosity question. The list is not a prescription to be taken in a specific order to get a result. These are 8 ways parents in pain can be moving toward health and we could have listed them in any order since they are NOT a ordered prescription.

      Adding to this is the fact that many parents who reach out to us are not Christians. Leading out with God and the Bible may not be the best first approach for them. We hope they read the entire article and don’t turn away before doing so.

      Also, many Christian hurting parents are struggling with God in this painful journey. They struggle with the “why” of their child’s struggle or why God didn’t intervene or doesn’t seem to be answering their prayers for their child. They feel guilt, shame, embarrassment, isolation. They receive insensitive or un-compassionate responses from friends and Christians who want to give them standard cliches or blame the parent for their child’s issues. Often the “church” has only one response to them, pray and read your Bible. While we KNOW God is our first response and His Word is His primary way of speaking it may not be the first remark we want to say to a hurting parent. Listening in silence and expressing empathy to hurting people is most often neglected.

      May you receive encouragement from the article,

      Tom and Dena

  2. Ohh,I’m so crying,why doI have anger against my heavenly Father,it hurts sooooo bad,I just keep crying and talking to Him,help me!”””ugh,sos,I’m so down,I’m on meds,etc..I’m really hurting,I Don’t Want This anger! Why do I think Your sovereign Lord,so why all this chaos and death and destruction all around and in the world!? God help me,Save me! Heal me,help me understand! What’s wrong with me???I’m confused

    • Guen, may the Lord God comfort you with His love. He understands how you feel – anger, sadness, disappointment, confusion, disillusionment and all. Be comforted to know that He weeps with you and hears your questions, every cry for help. He hears and will respond. A book that’s helped me is When God Doesn’t Make Sense by Dr. James Dobson. Maybe it could help you.
      “They cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper . . .” (Ps.107:28-29a)
      “My thoughts are not your thoughts; my ways are not your ways . . .” (Isaiah 55:8-11)


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