It takes courage to parent a troubled teen. The courage to face the struggles your teen is facing and to do whatever it takes to help your teen deal with them. Here are the areas where parental courage is most needed in dealing with a troubled teen, and tips for how to do so:
The courage to admit your teen has a problem.
This is the most important step to take in being a courageous parent. Admitting your teen has a problem and that it's not going to get better on it's own. This takes tons of courage but it's the only way for your teen to move forward and start to heal. Listen to the voice in your head that tells you your teen is struggling with more then normal teen problems. Pay attention to the tug in your heart when your teen keeps exhibiting the same problems.
Tip: Schedule a conversation with a school counselor or therapist who specializes in teens to get a clear perspective on the problems your teen is having.
The courage to get past the emotions that keep you from facing the truth about your teens' situation.
Guilt is the emotion that trips up many parents in trying to face the truth of their teen's problems. Guilt that somehow this is their fault or that somewhere along the line they should have done things differently. Guilt tripping doesn't help your teen at all and it keeps you stuck. There are other emotions that can get in the way of dealing courageously with your teen to include: shame, denial and frustration.
Tip: List the emotions that get in the way of thinking clearly about your teen, then tackle them one at a time.
The courage to take the action needed to get professional help for your teens' problems.
Taking action to get the help your teen needs is easy to put off or avoid. The options are numerous and confusing but your teen needs you to take action. The longer it takes before your teen gets professional help, the longer it may take them to heal. Take action even if you're not certain it's the best way to proceed. Then monitor whether your teen is responding positively and adjust as needed.
Tip: Make it a point to learn about the resources available to help troubled teens.
The courage to take care of yourself at the same time you're dealing with your teen.
This step is often the most difficult one for parents to implement. The time and effort needed to deal with a troubled teen depletes adult energy and resources. But a depleted parent functions at far less than full capacity. You owe it to your teen, yourself, your partner, your other children and commitments to take time out from being the parent of a troubled time to focus on yourself and other important aspects of your life.
Tip: Build it at least 30 minutes daily during which time you focus exclusively on how you're doing and make plans to relax and re-energize.