Parenting is not an easy job. It demands love and kindness, patience and strength, and making a lot of difficult decisions. When you parent a troubled teen, the job can become overwhelming. Your family life is in chaos, and your teen seems determined to self-destruct. Some days you may feel like you’re ready to just give up.
Hold on to Love and Hope
Stop for a moment and consider what a good parent you have been. You love your teen, in spite of all you’ve been through. You haven’t been a perfect parent (no one is), but you are doing everything you can to help your child and get them the help they need. You care about your teen’s future and hope that someday they will be able to turn their life around. Sometimes change just takes time. Hold on to your love and your hope, and give yourself a break.
You are Not to Blame
While you continue to help your teen, you also need to stop blaming yourself. You are a good person and a good parent, who has been caught up in a bad situation – a combination of things over which you could have no control.
There are a number of factors that lead to a teen’s emotional, psychological, and behavioral problems. You are not the sole cause for your teen’s issues. Some of what’s happened may be based on bad decisions your teen has made. Some may be a result of psychological disorders or trauma. There may be negative influences in your teen’s environment that have contributed to the problem. Stop blaming yourself.
You’ve taken your teen to doctors and therapists. You’ve gone to family counseling. You’ve followed parenting and discipline advice from experts. You’ve loved and nurtured your child. You have done what you could to help your teen.
No Cause for Shame
Maybe you also feel ashamed and embarrassed about how your teen behaves. You look at other families and think they are perfect. But there are no perfect families. All families struggle at some point. Some families are pretty good at hiding their struggles. There are thousands of parents who have problems with their teenagers. This is no cause for shame.
Joining a support group for parents of troubled teens can help you to see that you are not alone. Other parents in a group can provide support and encouragement. They truly understand what you’re going through. Their experiences and insight can be helpful. If there is not a local group, look for an online forum or website for parents of troubled teens.
Reach Out to Others for Help
Don’t hesitate to turn to the people in your life who offer compassion, understanding and support. Work with a therapist. Spend time with close friends or family members who listen without judgment when you need to talk. Don’t feel like you’re burdening others with your troubles. The people who love you and care about you will want to help you. Tell them what you need.
Remember to Nurture Yourself
When you focus on caring for your troubled teen, you often forget to care for yourself. Remember that it’s important to self-nurture. Rest, relax, and take care of your mind and your body. It’s ok to do something fun and forget about your troubles for a while. If you are exhausted and emotionally depleted, you will not have the strength you need, and you won’t be able to help anyone else in your family. Go for a walk, read a book, watch a movie, go out and laugh with friends. You deserve to have some fun. You need to recharge.
If one approach does not work for you teen, try something else. While there is no magical answer to make everything right, there are different therapies and different programs to address different behavioral, psychological and emotional problems.
At some point, you may recognize that it would be best to send your teen to a place where they can receive intensive treatment and constant supervision. It can help to remove teens from negative social influences and access to drugs or illegal activities. Therapeutic boarding schools and residential treatment centers offer therapy and educational programs, while keeping teens safe in a controlled environment. It’s okay to let the experts take over.
HelpYourTeenNow is a parents’ advocate group that can help you to find the best treatment center or therapeutic boarding school for your teen and their particular problems. They can give you advice on everything from insurance coverage and financing to finding the right program to help your teen.
Don’t Give Up Now
Sometimes change comes little by little. Sometimes it takes longer than we’d like. But parents keep trying, because they love their children. You hope for a better future for your teen and for your entire family. There are no guarantees for the future. You need to know in your heart that you’ve done everything possible to help your child.
Treat yourself with the same compassion and understanding that you would give to someone who told you their family is in crisis. You are doing everything that you can to help your child. That is the definition of a good parent.