An Alternative To Banishing That Difficult Person

{Image: elenathewise / 123rf Stock Photo}

{Image: elenathewise / 123rf Stock Photo}

Some relationships push us to the brink of all our coping and relational skills. They make us want to pull out our hair, swear like a sailor, run away, or eat a lot of chocolate cake.

For me, it’s the relationship with my middle schooler. I wish I could outsource her for this season of development. I know it’s not okay say it, but I just needed to get that one out there. Maybe that’s because:

  • She’s never been easy, and the hormone addition makes me want to go back and punch people who said when we adopted: “You think THIS moodiness is bad, wait until she’s a teen!”
  • She apparently has only three settings now: “sullen,” “snarky,” and “screaming.”
  • My favorite parenting book feels like it stopped working and her mental illness makes discipline feel like I’ve been dropped, blind-folded, spun-around, into a cave full of angry bats.
  • Or maybe it’s that she is as big as me and there’s something totally wrong about someone looking me in the eye, acting like a toddler.

Whatever it is, I would like to cast my vote for sending kids this age away to a deserted island, where they could tween each other to near-death, and all of us would be safe and able to sleep again.

Oh, yeah, we already do that. It’s called middle school. Where a thousand young narcissists gather together to stew in hormones and body odor for 7 hours a day. . .

Yes, I admit it. I’m screwed. This season is not fun.

Except that, now that I whine about mention it, it has its delights too.

  • Like the fact that she gets my sense of humor now, instead of staring, then resuming her tantrum like when she was smaller.
  • Or that she has a wicked sense of humor of her own, which never ceases to catch me off guard in delightfully unexpected ways.
  • Or the way her art is growing up with her, and how her cope-by-art projects rival boutique crafts in any upscale store.
  • Or how she can not only switch from happy to evil middle-schoolish on a dime, but can switch back equally easily. (I only wish I could keep up with the switching!)
  • Or that she still wants me to tuck her in and spend time talking about her day, even if ten minutes before, she hated my guts. It feels good to know that love’s still hiding there under the surface.
  • Or that she’s noticed I’m a real live human, not just a need-meeter, and asks how she can pray for me when I’m on a writing deadline.
  • Or how she sees when I’m a tired human, and turns the yelling bossiness on her sisters to get the house cleaned up sometimes.

She can be pretty darling in all her weirdness, actually.

But then again, I suppose that’s true for all of us. Both the frustrating, and the delightful parts. And so I find myself, face-down, doing the only thing I know to do: Pray. . .

Lord, please give me eyes to see her the way you do. Help me feed the wonder in her, and know the best way to curb the less wonderful.

Help me love her like you love me in my why-must-I-still-act-like-a-twelve-year-old moments. To be the mirror she needs to grow strong and loving in every part of the design you’ve woven into her. 

I can’t handle her right now, God. But you can. 

Guide me. Teach me. Show me how to love well in this season.

Give me the courage to engage her when all I want is to turn and run and lock myself in a quiet closet.

Thank you for never giving up on me in those years.

I’m scared. I’m tired. I’m struggling. And. . . I trust you anyway.


Whose weirdness is challenging you most these days?

How might you love that person well today?


P. S. Guess what? The message that Your Weirdness Is Wonderful is SPREADING! An excerpt of my book appeared today on the Women of Faith blog! Check that out —> here.

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  1. says

    I’m another one who knows exactly what you are talking about! There is strength in numbers, too! Thanks for sharing your insight!

  2. says

    Oh, I remember those days so clearly. Ugh. Don’t miss the difficult parts. You are right about the turn on a dime personality. I used to get whiplash sometimes from the sudden turns. There were too many days spent with both a literal and figurative closed door between us, feeling utterly helpless to find her way back to joy. That being said, we are the best of friends now. There is hope, the lessons you are teaching, the lines you are drawing will stick and will matter. Hang in there, and congrats on the book!

  3. Mary Gemmill says

    Laurie- you are talking to at least one who knows exactly what you are talking about. The teen years with my daughter were hell on earth- I know I only survived them with the support of many praying friends ! Also, God told me to pray scripture over my darling daughter- so I went right through the N.T and wrote out all the prayers from the Living Bible and prayed them over her for several years. She is now 29 and our relationship was majorly healed when she was 19. She married at 20 and she and her husband of nearly 9 years are off to the Mission field, and I am just so proud of them, end enjoy a loving close relationship with her, MOSTLY. This just to encourage you that these years have come to pass and not to stay! I am a living testament to God’s Saving Grace ! Many blessings and prayers for you as you go through this difficult season.

    • says

      What a great idea to pray the NT prayers and promises over our kids! I’ve recently started reading a Proverb a night to her as part of the tuck-in-for-bed time. It’s bringing some good discussion, and it’s great reminders for me too!

      • Mary Gemmill says

        If you are interested I can email that prayer to you- email me at
        I am great believer in praying the Word, because God is watching over it faithfully to perform it, and His never returns to Him void, but accomplishes the purpose for which it is sent forth,
        Praying proverbs sounds good too- God Bless you and your teen Lauriie.

  4. Beth B says

    Wow, Laurie, if you changed the “she”s to “he”s, I would be certain you were writing this about my 14 year old. Especially the mood-switching part. LOL But then there are the surprisingly great moments too, like when he tells me some fantastically intelligent idea and I know there’s hope. One day at a time friend… we all get through one day at a time. 🙂

  5. says

    You make me feel so much better, despite feelings so bad, about being a weary & worn Mom.

    I love the way you mine for the treasures inspite of dealing with so much junk.

    My son is 24. The teenage years weren’t bad BUT these young adult years..there are just no words.

    I’m praying for you & your daughter in this season.

    Keep looking up!

  6. D Jones says

    Holy cow, Laurie, another great post with the prayer very timely for me. We need to hit the McDonald’s play place again SOON because my middle school guy is doing the same number on me. THANK YOU for sharing these words, THANK YOU!

    • says

      Yes, we really do need that McDonalds play date! Why does it always surprise me that the tweenishness affects the boys too? Oh, right, because we are the almost-all-estrogen-only family and have no idea how the other half lives…