For parents who are raising a troubled teen, a support group can provide an opportunity for comfort and advice from others in the same situation. These groups are available in most communities as well as online. Initially it may be difficult to understand the point of participating in a support group. It's the teen who has the problem, so how does a parent benefit from participating in this type of group?
Potentially there is much to be gained, here's what you need to know.
Parent Support Groups - What's It All About?
Rarely does a teen have a serious problem that doesn't soon have a strong impact on the parent as well. You not only have to put up with your troubled teen and the consequences of their poor behavior, but are also challenged to find solutions to try to turn the situation around.
Support groups have a long history of providing reassurance and a sense of community to people dealing with similar issues, and this includes being the parent of a teen struggling with emotional or behavioral problems.
Parent support groups are designed to provide a setting in which parents can exchange information, reduce stress and find ways to cope with a troubled teen. It's like being coached, supported, educated and cared about by other parents with a common problem.
17 Reasons to Join a Parent Support Group
There are a number of reasons to consider joining a parent support group in your area or online, to include:
- Be with other people who understand what you're going through.
- Gain a sense of hope from parents whose teens are making progress.
- Get assistance in brainstorming ideas for how to respond to a difficult teen.
- Carve out a time to sort out your thoughts about your teen and make plans to take positive action.
- Hear from other parents about treatment programs that have worked, or not worked, for their teen and what the experience was like.
- Get a better perspective on your teens' situation.
- Learn tools for improved communication and parenting skills.
- Get referrals to therapists or outpatient programs in your area that other parents know are effective.
- Receive feedback about whether you may be over or under reacting to your teens' problems from parents dealing with similar problems.
- Find solace in the fact that you are not alone.
- Avoid making mistakes with your teen by listening to what other parents have tried that didn't work.
- Help other parents by sharing your thoughts, experience and advice.
- Share information about books, websites, magazines and other helpful parenting resources.
- Receive help from others in dealing with a crisis teen situation.
- Laugh with other parents about the silly things troubled teens do.
- Vent the uncomfortable feelings that come up in dealing with a difficult teen with parents who won't judge and may be able to offer advice.
- Counteract any fears that it's your fault your teen is troubled by relating to other parents dealing with the challenges of raising a troubled teen.
How to Find a Parent Support Group
Some groups are more structured than others; some focus more on parent education and some focus primarily on giving and receiving support. Consider your needs before starting to search for a group. Sometimes it's necessary to attend several different groups before finding the right mix of parents you can relate to.
Parent support groups can be located in several ways to include:
- Searching online for a listing of groups in your area or online
- Getting suggestions from professionals who work with teens
- Contacting medical and mental health facilities for listings of community support groups
- Looking into two nationwide parent support groups: ToughLove and Because I Love You (BILY)