All parents will tell you that the teenage years are trying. But the parent of a truly troubled teen faces a special challenge. Even the best behaved child can experience growing pains and sometimes these growing pains become serious issues that involve depression, the potential for suicide, sexual promiscuity, and violence, problems with the law or other significant problems.
As a parent, you must address these issues before they become obstacles that a teenager and/or…All parents will tell you that the teenage years are trying. But the parent of a truly troubled teen faces a special challenge. Even the best behaved child can experience growing pains and sometimes these growing pains become serious issues that involve depression, the potential for suicide, sexual promiscuity, and violence, problems with the law or other significant problems.
As a parent, you must address these issues before they become obstacles that a teenager and/or parent cannot overcome obstacles that present life long challenges to your teenage child. Here are some of the issues you may face:
Dropping Out of School ?
if your child has threatened to drop out, or has already dropped out of high school, you face a significant dilemma. As a parent, you know that your child can?t go far in life without a high school diploma (at the very least). If your child has not yet dropped out, you have an advantage, but you must act quickly.
Find an alternative program, either through your own school system or through private schools that offer experiential training (outside the classroom) designed to meet state academic requirements in a non-traditional environment. If your child has already dropped out, you may want to give them a few months to adjust. Insist that they get a job to earn money and wait for them to figure it out if they can. Then have them go back to school or look into getting a GED (a high school equivalency degree) so that they can go on to college if they choose.
Using Drugs or Abuse of Alcohol?
If you need to take your child off track to get them back on track, look into boot camps, and off site residence programs that will expose your child to other authority figures and other kids in crisis. They will get a real education on life and have a chance to think through their behavior without the influence of the friends or environment that may have caused them to go astray.
You can find programs like Teen Options, RedCliff, the Thayer Learning Center, Aspen Ranch and other residence programs with your online search engine. OR, you may wish to look into standard military or boarding school options to get your child away from his current circle of friends, membership in a gang, or other environmental influences.
Eating Disorders, Depression and Sexual Manifestations ?
Experimentation is normal for teenagers, but if your child has a true eating disorder or is showing signs of depression, or getting into real trouble with sexual experimentation, you need to take action.
Any and all of these behaviors are usually symptomatic of low self-esteem or other emotional issues that must be resolved. Find a good therapist or doctor who specializes in teenager therapy and get your child enrolled. Be sure your child understands that this is not punishment and that you do not consider your child to be crazy, but rather that you want them to have another, more objective person to talk to about their feelings and to work out what is happening in their life.
Try to choose a doctor who will not just medicate your child into oblivion but rather will help your child work through their issues to become a healthy adult. If your child is sexually promiscuous and you cannot alter this behavior right away, be sure your child is using protection to avoid pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted diseases.
Navigating the Legal System
If your child has been arrested or gotten in trouble with the law, you need to WAKE UP NOW! Some minor infractions are easily handled, and juvenile records are sealed in most states up to a certain age (state laws vary) so you may think ?no harm, no foul?. But you would be wrong.
Take this as a sign that there will likely be more problems, if you do not stop the cycle now. And, if your child ends up in jail, the influence of others who are incarcerated in the correctional system is not likely to produce a healthy, well adjusted adult. The first thing you need to do is to get yourself a really good attorney, one who works with teenagers and one who will help you, not just by keeping your child out of jail, but by scaring your child so they will not push the limits even further.
The second thing you have to do is to stop looking at the police and juvenile court system as the enemy. It is their job to protect your child and the public, but they are not there to produce more criminals. These people will be more cooperative and sympathetic to YOU if you aren’t defensive or combative and IF you ask for their help and suggestions.
If you, as a parent, have to pay for damage done by your child, be sure you make your child get a job and pay these expenses. This is part of the accountability they must learn. And, while you should empathize with your child and help them express their feelings, you should NOT sympathize with them or protect them.
Let them know that their behavior is unacceptable and that they must now be responsible for that behavior, whether that means that their drivers license is suspended, or that they have to do community service, or something more profound like serving time in a juvenile institution. In some jurisdictions, juvenile offenders may be required to make restitution for monetary damages.
Sometimes parents actually balk at this! According to Juvenile Justice experts, children must earn this money themselves and repay their debts themselves. They need to learn that there are consequences for their actions, particularly for their anti-social actions. If your child is released based on certain conditions like family therapy or drug counseling, be sure this happens. Don’t let it slide. You MUST address this now or your child may be in real trouble within 5-10 years. As you tighten the reins on your troubled teen, remember that you are the role model.
Always treat your child and your family with respect and demand the same from each of them. Do not tolerate broken curfews, swearing, coming home drunk, or whatever other behaviors your teenager displays that are unacceptable. Sit your child down and let them know that they matter to you and that you love them and ask them to try to talk to you OR to a counselor or therapist.
Let them know that their feelings matter and that you understand they are going through a tough time. BUT, you must also let them know that you expect them to behave in a socially responsible way. Give them confidence that they can adjust and improve their life.