How Not to Ride the Emotional Roller Coaster with Your Child



Feel like you’re trapped on your child’s emotional roller coaster?

Our summer is going well—relatively well. But if you have teens or young adult kids you know that status is apt to change without warning. That’s why I said our summer is going relatively well. Some days we’re one big happy family and some days the slightest glance causes a bad mood in someone.

How do we respond when our kids try to yank us along on their emotional roller coaster?


  • First, remember riding the roller coaster with your child doesn’t make you a good parent or speak love to your child. We are not to let their decisions define our day. In Matthew 19:16-26 Jesus interacts with a rich young ruler. The young man asked what he needed to do to have eternal life. In short Jesus said, “Go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have reassure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” The young man walked away very sad “for he had great possessions” (verses 21, 22). I’m sure it broke Jesus’ heart, but He let him go. He didn’t let this young man’s poor choice define His day or derail God’s plan for Him.
  • Respond with truth and in a healthy way. Do not let how you think she will react affect your response.
  • Refuse to be upset if your child doesn’t like your response. Yes, your child most likely will misinterpret your reaction when you don’t jump on their roller coaster, but it’s not our job to make our kids understand us.
  • Don’t try to rescue him from his latest decision. Advise biblically, but let his consequences teach him.
  • Keep on speaking and showing love to your child. Be available to her.

In Love No Matter What I shared the story of Jan and her son David. David struggled with depression and the use of alcohol and drugs. After years of David’s ups and downs she shared, “He is a loving kid and has potential, but he also has deep issues that return and cycle. So we pray but go on and try to enjoy all the incredible blessings we have through Christ Jesus! God is at work on our kids’ lives.”* Jan has ridden the roller coaster with David for years, but now she is done. She is not cynical or bitter. She has accepted her new normal and trusts God with her son.

Staying healthy and not joining the turmoil of our child’s reactions and decisions is one way of showing him how to live life well and also the character of God. God is always there for us, but He doesn’t let our reactions or bad decisions affect how He parents us. He keeps on being God. We need to do the same. Keep on being a loving, strong parent and who God made you to be.


*Love No Matter What: When Your Kids Make Decisions You Don’t Agree With, Thomas Nelson Publishers, pp. 170-171.

Brenda Garrison is an author and speaker who empowers women with the confidence to live their calling. Brenda is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ministry Leadership with a Concentration in Women’s Ministry at Moody Bible Institute. She and her husband, Gene, are the parents of three young adult daughters and live near Metamora, IL.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *