A New Year’s Gift for Hurting Parents

by | Jan 2, 2023 | holidays | 4 comments

photo cred. Umit Bulu on Unsplash

Parenthood changes you. But when your son or daughter has a history of making awful choices, struggles with an addiction, mental illness or with their sexual orientation, the experience can be life-changing. When their world looks like it’s on a downward path to destruction you feel like yours is too. Yesterday was New Year’s Day. As many of your friends set goals for the coming year, thinking about what they want to see happen, your only goal is for your child to live, to be restored to you and your family, or resolve their issues.

Looking ahead for you is scary. Where my daughter was concerned, I tried not to look too far ahead for a long trime–over 15 years. If you can relate, then I have a special word for you, my New Year’s gift for every hurting parent.
God is there.
He’s with you, dear mom or dad.
The living God, Creator of the universe, is present in your grief. He’s in the pain and the chaos as your Helper, Comforter, and Advocate.
On your bad days, the I-can’t-believe-this-is-my-life days, can you see His face?

In the darkest times, can you see His light?
In your most intense suffering, do you know His peace?
When you sink in a deep pit, can you feel His hand?
And when you’ve almost given up, will you breathe in His strength?
His face shines on you. Do you believe it?
His light eliminates the shadows, piercing the darkness that closes in on your soul. Will you open your heart to Him?
The pain He endured on the cross brought you perfect peace. His. Peace. Can this be true?
He’s by your side. Your broken heart breaks His. He weeps with you.
He’s in the slimy, smelly hole you’ve fallen into, so black you can’t see your way out. You’re not even sure you can recover.
But wait …
God’s gift of resilience can replace your despair. He obliterates hopelessness as though your heart was a chalkboard wiped clean with a heavenly eraser.
Dear friend, Almighty God will be with you throughout all of the coming year, the same as this past year. He’s ready and eager to help. He wants to guide you to find your way through. He’s your rock of refuge. He’s your lifeline today, tomorrow, and forever. He extends the same offer to your child. If only they would accept His help.
When troubles of all kinds take your child away, the only thing I know to do is to keep giving them back to the One who gave them to you in the first place. In every storm keep trusting Him. Bring Him your child and your deadened soul. He can make your heart beat again. He can bring you back to life and give you a gift – HOPE.

photo cred. Canva

Hope is what we need to press on.
In my book, You Are Not Alone: Hope for Hurting Parents of Troubled Kids, I wrote, “Are you focusing on what isn’t happening in your child’s life? On your dissatisfaction, disappointments, and shattered dreams? Or on what could happen in yours? You get to choose.”
Since we have no control over our children, let’s make the choice to focus on God: on who He is, on what He can do for us and in us. This is our real hope.
This Bible verse strengthens hope in my heart:
“I remember my affliction … the bitterness … I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3: 19-23) NIV.
Pray with me: Dear God, thank you for the gift of hope. Only You can make my heart beat again. Hope is exactly what I need as I face another year on this hard and painful journey with my child. When I struggle with hopelessness, don’t let me forget Your great love, compassion, and faithfulness. What beautiful lifelines they are. I praise You for this New Year’s gift.


  1. Yasmin Mayo

    A friend sent me a link to Dr James Dobson broadcast. I listened to your story and I am sitting here crying my eyes out.

    I am a single mother of a 23 year old daughter (my only child). She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder and PTSD when she was 20 years old. She also abuses alcohol and smokes marihuana. Her life is spiraling down and so is mine.

    It was so good to hear your story and to know that I am not alone. I have so many feelings and most of them are not good. I am a Christian and I trust God but sometimes I forget I belong to Him and struggle with fear, hopelesness, guilt and shame.

    When my daughter was a teenager she mentioned “To Write Love On Her Arm” a lot, in fact, I think she even had a bracelet with those words. She too cut herself when she was in high school.

    This journey is long, sad and unpredictable and I thank you for encouraging grieving parents like myself.

    God bless you.

    • Tom and Dena Yohe

      Thank you for reaching out to us, Yasmin. That’s neat your daughter knew about To Write Love on her Arms. We are so sorry for the trials you’ve been through with her. It’s so much harder as a single parent. You feel even more alone. It’s really hard to trust God when you don’t see him answering your prayers, but we believe that we can trust him because he is worthy of our trust. Fear, hopelessness and guilt are huge problems for hurting parents. The enemy works on us to defeat us and cause us to walk away from our faith, but don’t you give up! God is there and he cares about you and your daughter, no matter what you see happening or how you feel. He understands far more than we could ever realize since he’s the ultimate, rejected, heartbroken parent of all mankind – and the only perfect parent!

      We’re so glad you heard our story and hope that part 2 offered/s you hope and encouragement. You’re right, he journey is long, sad and unpredictable. But, praise be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, because in him we are Not Alone – and that IS predictable! Please sign up for our free email subscription for ongoing encouragement through our website. It’s one more way we can support you on this difficult journey. God bless you!

  2. Angela

    I listened to your radio program today and it helped. My children don’t have addiction but they are under attack by my ex husband and it seems there is little I can do to help them. I want to have faith in the Lord- I need to have faith in something. I just have a hard time believing that this could continue to happen for so long.

    • Tom and Dena Yohe

      We’re sorry you and your children are having a rough time now. Feeling helpless isn’t a pleasant experience and sadly we don’t always know how long it will last. It does require us to live by faith, not sight, as we trust in God’s love for us and our children. Ironically, when we felt the most helpless with our daughter and could not do anything else but surrender ourselves and her to His loving arms, we saw the most answers to our prayers. It wasn’t instantaneous but we did see God move in good ways in her and our lives.

      I read something the other day that stuck with me. It was talking about cooking a roast in a slow cooker. Individually the ingredients aren’t very tasty, onion, meat, potato, celery etc. but placed within the slow cooker, over hours of time, the ingredients begin to create a pleasant aroma and a nice pot roast. At times, the Lord allows us to be in the slow cooker. The circumstances are pleasant by themselves. Trust in the Lord to work His plan in you and your children to make you the people He wants you to be, like the image of His Son.

      We are sorry for what you are going through and pray for your strength and patience. If you haven’t gone to our website you may find some encouraging posts or helpful information. You can sign up for encouraging emails if you like. http://www.hopeforhurtingparents.com

      Tom and Dena