Parenting a teen is no easy feat and that’s because, to be honest, being a teen is no easy feat, either. It’s just one of the facts of life that adolescents have it rough—raging hormones giving them mixed messages about who they are as a person, demands on them from school and extracurricular activities, a complex social web to navigate, and newfound independence coupled with lack of full developed critical thinking skills. Also, the teenage years are often when any hereditary mental health issues rear their ugly heads for the first time. Altogether, it can be too much for anyone to handle, which is why so many adolescents can be troubled teens.
Many adolescents fall back on various nefarious aids to get them through their teen years—substance abuse, dangerous behaviors, and other poor choices. Young people need guidance, especially if they’re facing mental health challenges. As a mom, you may be finding yourself at your wits’ end—your troubled teen won’t listen to you or any of the educators at their school, despite your best efforts. What is a parent to do? Read on to learn more about resources that may come in handy when you and your adolescent child are facing behavioral issues and other challenges.
Many adolescents find themselves feeling lost amongst the various draws on their attention and their psyche. Although their teen years are an amazing time of personal growth, they’re also rife with challenges. Many troubled teens are troubled because they simply don’t know where to turn. You may want to help them, but you’re not their mommy anymore—they’re older now and probably searching for answers elsewhere. This is natural. Adolescents should be exploring their individuality during these years. They should be finding ways to self-define and figure out how to manage socialization on their own terms. Nevertheless, on their search for themselves, they may go astray and leave the values that you raised them with by the wayside.
If you’re witnessing this happen and don’t know where to turn, spirituality is a good place to start, for both of you. If you’re a religious household, try to reintroduce your teen to the Good Book in a relaxed everyday kind of way. Look for Bible study groups for teens, with a counselor who can provide the guidance your teen needs. Bible study groups provide a great opportunity for your adolescent to meet other teens their own age who are facing similar challenges, and to get the adult guidance they don’t know that they need from a counselor (since they may not want to hear advice from their mom).
For yourself, you’ll need your own good book. It can be extremely helpful to read the words of another mom who has tried to find time in her busy day to pray over her kids’ challenges. For example, Lisa Whelchel may be better known as an actress and for her work on the New Mickey Mouse Club, but she is also a life coach who has written over a dozen books. Lisa Whelchel books are chock full of extraordinary ideas to help ordinary people face the challenges of every day. The Busy Mom’s Guide to Prayer is a huge help to any mommy who’s looking for ways to incorporate spirituality and prayer into her daily practice. Whelchel speaks mom-ese, which is a relief and creates a sense of connection and support. In addition to helping your teen find a Bible study group to get them through high school, invest in your own needs by picking up one of Whelchel’s books for support. Remember, you’re not just a caregiver. The teen years aren’t easy for a mom, and you need support just as much as your child does.
Troubled Teen Programs
If your teen is facing behavioral problems, mental health issues, or other challenges that are keeping them from meeting their full potential they may need more than a Bible study group or an at-home treatment plan. If you think that this is the case for your troubled teen, you may want to consider residential treatment. Troubled teen programs vary, but truly excellent ones offer your teen the creative correction they need to really restart their journey.
Sometimes a troubled teen needs to be taken out of their everyday setting and high school to find peace of mind. Therapeutic boarding schools can be the best option in this case. Such programs employ a wide array of psychologist and counselor options so that your teen is sure to find a therapist that they feel comfortable with. A residential setting offers young people stability, while access to community activities, and wilderness therapy gives young people different ways to tackle their challenges. While it may seem extreme to look for an inpatient program, the truth is that this isn’t just a boot camp. Therapeutic boarding schools provide a dedicated program to get teens back on track. With mental health professionals on staff, the therapeutic program can help adolescents with mental health challenges in ways that they sometimes can’t be helped at home.
Developmental Disability Support
It can be hard to know what to do to help our kids if they have developmental disabilities. While we wish that we had all the answers, sometimes the time comes to get professional help. Whether your young adult needs to work on social skills, vocational skills, or just self-esteem building; it can be a huge help to find skills training day programs to give them guidance.
Developmental disabilities can be difficult to pinpoint sometimes—dyslexia, ADHD, lack of proper social skills. All of these are easy to write off as a phase, but if your troubled teenager needs to build skills to manage the world as a person with ADHD, it’s important to find a program that can teach the skills they need.
If you have Medicaid, there are supplemental day habilitation options available to you. These supplemental day habilitation programs offer a group setting in which to work on skills training with the support of a staff member. Developmental disabilities should be treated seriously. Gone untreated, many non-neurotypical teens develop substance abuse problems or dabble in other dangerous behaviors. One of the hallmarks of ADHD, for instance, is lack of impulse control, which is not a great thing for a troubled teenager looking for a way to get through high school. Group therapy can help your teen begin the healing process for those with developmental disabilities and find better ways to channel their energies. Maybe your adolescent has the potential to be a songwriter? Or a star basketball player? Or a math whiz? Until you find a program to help redirect their energies and start the healing process, you won’t know.
Parenting a teen isn’t easy. It’s a balancing act finding your own mom time while making sure that you are keeping a close watch on your teen, looking for signs of substance abuse, developmental disabilities, and burgeoning mental health issues. These tips will help you find your way through the thorny teenage years, wherever you are in the U.S., and will hopefully help you and your troubled teenager make it to the other side stronger, wiser, and happier than you ever believed possible.