Successfully parenting a troubled teen can feel like an impossible task when faced with teen problems and difficult behaviors on a daily basis. Teens who are running away, failing school, unmotivated, defiant, depressed or otherwise struggling to grow up present unique challenges to their parents. Here are seven secrets to help you survive the daily challenges of raising a troubled teen.
1. Don't blame yourself for your teens' problems.
It's essential not to play the blame game that this is somehow your fault or that you could have prevented the problems your teen is having. There's no way to know what factors have contributed to current problems. There's no way to change anything you might wish to have done differently and there's nothing to be gained by chastising yourself. Keep your focus on dealing with your troubled teen in the present.
2. Ask for help.
You can't be all things to your teen. Role model for your teen that when things get tough, the tough ask for help. Reach out to other adults and mental health professionals who have the knowledge and ability to help your teen. Seek professional help for your teen and view yourself as a strong parent who knows when help is needed and how to find it.
3. Be honest with yourself.
If you think your teen is having problems that go beyond the normal struggles of adolescence, then you are probably right. You know your teen better than anyone else. Listen to your inner wisdom in this regard. Listen to that nagging voice in your head that says something with your teen isn't quite right.
4. Don't go it alone.
Let relatives and friends know about your concerns for your teen and listen to their feedback and suggestions. Invite other adults to talk to and spend time with your teen and let them help you too. Ask friends to help out by keeping an eye on your teen, listening to you vent, or taking you away from it all for a few hours or days. Find ways that you and your partner can support and lean on each other during difficult times with your teen.
5. Be open and flexible.
This doesn't mean you have to go out and join a yoga class, although that might not be a bad idea. It means being open to new ideas and ways of helping your teen and not becoming rigid in your thinking about your teen as this can limit your ability to help them move forward. It means actively focusing on your teens strengths and offering positive feedback and encouragement whenever possible.
6. Practice patience.
That old expression that patience is a virtue has much validity in raising a troubled teen. In fact, it's a necessity. Be patient with your teen's problems, patient with yourself and your ability to help your teen figure it out. When your teen is in treatment, be patient with the process of healing.
7. Know when you are at your breaking point.
You can only bend so far before you break. Pay attention to signs of exhaustion from dealing with your teen. Know when you need a break and take it. If you are engaging in a power struggle with your teen, be the one to walk away.
And remember, teens are resilient. With your ongoing care, concern and direction most teens will get better and grow up to be happy, health adults.