The Rights of a Parent of a Troubled Teen


As the parent of a troubled teen, you may be wondering just what level of decision-making responsibility your teen has over your parental decision-making rights. Teenagers begin to become more independent of their parents and create an identity separate from their parents. In most situations, parents step back from being the complete decision-makers for their adolescents and slip more into a position of being an advisor and provider of guidance as needed.

In situations where your teen is troubled, it can prove to be more of a challenge. If your teen is struggling, should they be tasked with making the decisions that impact their safety, security, and future? Asserting your parental decision-making power can potentially add fuel to a volatile and emotional fire. You want your teen to have the control that they need, to feel confident. You also want to ensure their future is positive and free from problems that could otherwise derail their stability and future.

Your rights as a parent of a troubled teen

What are your rights? How can you protect your rights, and the rights of your teen, as you navigate difficulties?

You have the right to the truth

Teens will begin to seek out increased privacy from their parents, which is entirely normal. That said, as a parent, you have the right to ask your teen questions. You also have the right to expect that you will get truthful answers to these questions.

Be aware of your teen wanting and needing privacy. Remember that this is a normal developmental process. Take care to ask questions that are not deliberately confrontational and not asked during periods when emotions are high.

It can feel somewhat like navigating a minefield of emotions and stress. But you do have the right to know truths about your teen, their friends, and their behavior. If your teen is going out with friends, you have the right to know where they are going and who will be there.

You have the right to be involved

This can take on several focuses, including the right to be involved in how your troubled teen is doing at school. You have the right to be involved in and be aware of who they are talking to, spending time with, and what they are doing online.

Even with increased awareness, there are still so many dangers for teens online. Studies show that there are increasing cases of cyberbullying, predators, and other hidden dangers online. As a parent, you have the right to know what your troubled teen is exposed to when they are spending time online and on social media platforms.

You have the right to respect

Your teen certainly has the right to be treated with respect, but so do you. Every member of the family has the right to be treated with respect and kindness. Troubled teens can often lash out verbally and even physically, with a focus on their family members. Siblings and parents in the home do not deserve disrespect and do not deserve to be attacked in any way.

You have the right to establish boundaries

In your home and within your family, you have the right to establish the rules and boundaries that you expect your children and teens to follow. This could include boundaries about household chores, curfews, friends, and activities that happen in your home. You also have the right to set rules about alcohol and illegal drug use in your home.

When you establish boundaries, be sure that you establish reasonable consequences when the boundaries are crossed and violated. Quite often, teens will rebel against boundaries and consequences, even if they are not troubled teens. It’s essential to be aware of this possibility and to have a plan to respond in a non-confrontational manner.

You have the right to protect your family

As a parent, you have the right to do what you need to do to protect every member of your family. From checking the car’s safety ratings before buying it for your newly driving teen to ensuring your home has a reliable security system. There are many steps that you can take to protect your loved ones. Sometimes that protection also looks like protecting them from themselves and getting the correct type of treatment program to help address mental wellness needs.

You have the right to get help

Individual therapy for your troubled teen and you can prove to be hugely beneficial. Family counseling and other therapeutic solutions can also offer solace from mental illness troubles. In families where there are violent and potentially dangerous situations, you also have the right to get help from law enforcement where it is needed. This could look like removing an adult from the home or potentially removing your troubled teen from the home temporarily.

You have the right to be yourself

Let’s face it, even the books penned by self-described experts on teenage behavior can’t help us when we’re struggling with a troubled teen and a host of other concerns. It can all take a toll on your mental health, your relationships, and your career. Take the time just to be yourself and to be kind to yourself when you’re struggling.

  • Recognize and accept that it’s okay to make mistakes; with parenting, relationships, work, and even picking out a paint color for your kitchen.
  • Apologize to yourself when you are too hard on yourself and apologize to others when your expectations are too high for reality.
  • Seek out therapy for yourself and explore other self-help and self-care strategies that will help you to learn the coping skills needed to address concerns in a healthy way.

Connect with the resources that can help your family reconnect and find the way back to stability and mental wellness. At Help Your Teen Now, we can connect you with the resources your family can benefit from. Residential treatment centers for troubled teens can offer a safe and structured environment with trained therapists and treatment programs that can address the individual teen’s needs.

Your family can find their way back toward a life of stability with the right focused help by your side.

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