7 Tips for Parents When Waiting is Hard

by | Oct 18, 2021 | what you can do

photo cred. Stefano Pollio on unsplash

Life is full of waiting. Let’s be honest, waiting is hard–especially when you are the parent of a troubled teen or adult. It’s hard because there’s a problem they’re powerless over and you have no idea how the situation will end. The problem might be with one of these: alcohol or drugs, their mental health, suicide attempts, pornography, an eating disorder or some other form of self harm, gender identity, incarceration, an abusive relationship or estrangement for an unknown reason. Delays of their recovery are discouraging. Doubts arise. Will your relationship ever be restored? Will they overcome and survive? They’re trapped in an unhealthy place. Stuck. Maybe you are too. I was. The waiting and not knowing took a toll on me. I was a mess. I had to learn how to wait well. These 7 tips helped me when the waiting was hard.

7 Tips to Wait Well:

  1. Be more focused on God. Fill your mind with promises from his Word.
  2. Give thanks for who God is and what he can do. Keeping a gratitude journal can help.
  3. Continue to live your life. Be active with work, friends, hobbies, and your faith community. Find a way to serve and help others.
  4. Take one day at a time; live in the present, not obsessed with the past or dreading the future
  5. Get someone else’s perspective. Talk to a counselor, clergy or a caring friend. Join a support group.
  6. Keep the big picture in mind. God wants to develop something in you.
  7. Remember God’s goodness and lovingkindness for you and your child.

We’re All Waiting

We all have plenty of opportunities to wait. Life will always be full of them. How many times did you wait for something or someone? Recently, I waited in line at the DMV for a replacement driver’s license and sticker tag for my license plate. On the way, I had to wait for traffic lights to change at intersections. I had to wait on slower drivers ahead of me or for a pedestrian to cross the street. Once I got there, I had to wait even longer for my turn. My husband often has to wait for me to be ready to go somewhere with him. After 43 years of marriage, he’s developed some good waiting skills.

As we grow and mature, we have to wait for these: becoming a teenager then an adult, getting a driver’s license, dating, graduations, engagements and weddings, having children then grandchild, our first job, pursuing a career, and vacations to name a few.

Both good and not-so-good occasions have to be waited for: a medical report; the verdict from a court hearing; the outcome of a difficult conversation; if a marriage will end in divorce; the result of a hard decision that involves your well-being. Hospitals and doctor’s offices have “waiting” rooms. And sometimes, life has us in a waiting room where there’s nothing we can do about a situation.

How well do you wait?

Not only is waiting a regular occurrence, but it’s part of our spiritual life because waiting presents us with the challenge to learn how to wait well.

Here we are, parents or grandparents, in God’s waiting room praying for our loved one to be ready to ask for and accept help; to admit they have a need they can’t solve, and be restored to us.

Two Ways to Wait

photo cred. jametlene Reskp on unsplash

While waiting is a daunting challenge, stop and ask yourself “what are the consequences of me not waiting or not waiting well?” Is God trying to teach me something? I believe He wants us to wait in two ways: with patience and expectation. This means we trust his timing as we anticipate his work in our lives and in our children. Waiting gives us opportunities to develop this character quality of patience. Then patience does it’s good work by reminding us who is ultimately in control…God, not us.

As we wait these two ways, with patience and expectation, we grow in faith and trust. But dear friend, it’s okay to tell God you’re exhausted and don’t like waiting. He understands how difficult your path has been. He’s seen it all. You can be real with him.

While you wait, will you trust him? Which one of my 7 tips do you need most? I encourage you to write it down and ask God to help you put it into practice.

A word from the Bible about waiting:

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for (trust in) the Lord (Ps. 27:14).

Dear God, I’m struggling with waiting today. I’ve been on this journey for a long time and it’s only getting harder. Please help me trust you more that I might wait well. I’m listening and ready to learn. I want to be strong and take heart, but I don’t know how. I need you to give me patient endurance because I don’t have any. Mine is long gone. Here I am, Lord, looking to you with expectation and hope. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Waiting is one of the sessions in our support group Facilitator Manual. We can help you or your church start a support group! A free sample of our material is available from our website. Scroll to the end of the list of states.