Dear Jill,

I’m needing wisdom in dealing with my teenage daughter. I’m going through a divorce. It saddens my heart that my soon to be ex isn’t wanting to be a dad. This is causing my daughter to struggle with her depression and the choices she’s making. This is where I’m recalling a Hearts at Home conference where another mom shared her story about needing to reach her daughter.

I’m at a loss for how to handle being a single mom to such fragile teenager. Anything I say I push her further away from me or she just shuts down. My job is to protect her but I feel I’m failing at that, too. I’m trying to get her into counseling. How do other moms get through this fragile stage of teenage years without having a heart attack or stroke from the added on stress? Any words of wisdom would be appreciated.

Overwhelmed Mom

Dear Overwhelmed Mom,

I HIGHLY suggest that you make counseling a priority.  I would pursue counseling for her but also family counseling for the two of you.  This is really important because it will keep the communication lines open.

Got TeensAlso, you might start a pillow journal with your daughter.  Get a journal and then write her a letter telling her how proud you are of her and how you know that this is a hard season.  Tell her a few things about how it is hard for you and how God is growing you even in the midst of it.  Ask her a few questions like “what’s been the hardest thing for you in this season?” or “If you had to describe your feelings, what are three words that could describe them?”  Tell her to just answer when she can and put the journal on your pillow.

Then put it on her pillow when she’s at school.  It may take some time for her to respond, but it’s worth a try.  When I did this with my son it took him about 3 weeks for him to reply and then we started back and forth within a few days.  I did it with another one of my kids and they never responded.   So there are no promises, but it’s worth a try for sure!

The best part of a pillow journal is that it keeps communication lines open without having to sit face to face or feel awkward.  It’s emotionally safe for teens to write (they are used to texting!) and is a great way to bridge the sometimes challenging teen years.



Dear Jill,

I took your advice with starting a pillow journal for my daughter. Believe or not she read what I wrote her and responded back! You helped me come up with a way that I can know communicate to my daughter in an honest, open relationship!

Overwhelmed Mom Who Now Has Hope!


What about you?  Do you have any other strategies for connecting with a teen going through a hard time? 

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