Making Decisions For Our Teens

It can be difficult for parents to lose control over their teens decisions when they turn 18. As an adult and parent we make choices for our family, with very little training,  hoping they are the right decisions. Three years ago, my son went into a psychiatric hospital that kicked off a number of chronic mental health dealings. Each event or admittance  was supposed to be the last and the cure. But the road was long, leading to Wilderness and then Residential Treatment. As a parent learning that you cannot “parent” your own child safely in your home can be disheartening and make one feel like a  failure.  We listened to the professionals in the field and cried as we hung on to their every word; at first rejecting, being in denial and later giving in.

Teens Making Decisions Against The Advice of Others

This week the son that led us down this winding unknown path and had such a tumultuous adolescence turns 18 years old.  A milestone for all of us and now we no longer have the control over what decisions are made in his life.  During the past three years as parents we made some good decisions and some not so good. One decision that we made against all the professionals advice was to bring our son home from treatment seven months before he was ready to discharge or turn 18. Knowing my son, he would not have been ready in their eyes to discharge before he turned 18.  He had not absorbed enough of the tools they were trying to teach him to graduate from the program.  He never would, he has always marched to a different drummer.

Teens Living With Their Decisions

Our feeling, to his father’s credit, was that he needed to have a life outside of treatment before he turned 18 while we still had some control over his behaviors. After all he had been in treatment for over two years and there was some progress.  We brought him home last June and the past 8 months have not been easy, but they also have not been all that bad. As a family we have re- learned  to live together, he has renewed his relationship with his younger brother  and we have gotten to know him on a more personal trusting level. There were times during the past eight months I thought we made a big mistake bringing him home before he was ready to discharge. But now looking back, I see him as a wild horse that needed to be broken by the real world and most recently he has tamed. I am not saying everything is perfect but I will have to admit, I could not imagine what it would  be like if we were just bringing him home now. Once a runaway and now I no longer worry about what he does in the evening after I have gone to bed, at one time I thought he could be happy as a  homeless person on the street. But today it does not appear that will be his path.

Where These Decisions Take Teens

A few weeks ago he graduated from high school, currently attends community college, and he turns 18 on Friday. He talks about moving out in June. I no longer fear what he will do or the decisions that he will make. Even though I know they will not always be the best.  I have his treatment to thank for that, they did give us our son back, and now he is on his own path.  Maybe not the path that I would have chosen but he appears to be finding his way.

If you would like to know more about therapeutic boarding school and other residential programs for troubled teens, please contact a family counselor at Zion Educational Systems for guidance.  To get started click the button below!

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