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Parenting Troubled Teenagers - What Can You Do?

Aug 17, 2007
When you and your spouse were preparing to become a parent, it is not a gamble to say that you never really knew what you were letting yourself in for. Of course you have some experiences through baby sitting stints, or if you have siblings younger than you, then you have been around babies at some periods of your life. But nothing, and I say it again, nothing in your life before this has prepared you for the task ahead. Suddenly, the cute bundle of joy in your arms has transformed into a teen before your eyes and you find yourself floundering even more. Your child is a troubled teen and you don't know what to do.

You are at your wits end and you have just about tried everything.

Nothing seems to work. Your pleas, cries, tears and screams fall on deaf ears. You feel the claws of despair ripping into you. Every time you try talking to your teenage child, you just end up shouting and you promise that this will never happen again. But guess what, the cycle repeats.

Part of the problem is this. While we are parenting troubled teens, often we behave like one when we are trying to deal with them. When they try to act tough, we do likewise. When they sulk and pout, we sulk and pout. Not true? Just think back the last time you and your teen got into a fight. We think we know what a teenager is like, but the truth of the matter is, times are very much different from when we were a teen.

So what can you do?

One of the easiest ways to start is to talk to your teens' schools counselors. Failing that, then you take the next step and take your kids to see a therapist.

This may actually work for a time and you begin to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Hope springs eternal and you and you begin to dream that your days of parenting troubled teens are behind you. However, as time goes by, you notice that your teen starts changing back to the troubled uncooperative teen they were before therapy. All those therapy money down the drain.

What is going on here?

So calm down and take a good look at what is really happening. Sure your child is a troubled teen and your nerves are shot. Sure you feel like banging your head on the wall. Or even give your teen a good spanking.

But what if this was a cry for help?

Maybe they're telling you in the only way they think you'll hear them that all is not right in their world. You will never know until you get yourself under control first and start listening to them. Yes, that's right. Start by listening! The good book says be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.

This is never more true than when you are dealing with your teenager.

There could be a number of reasons for their behavior.

If things worked after therapy, perhaps something happened later that changed everything. If they are happy one day and a monster the next, maybe something came crashing down in their world. The only way to know is if you really talk to them and find out. No screaming or shouting. Rein in your temper and really talk to them. Find an opportune time. Not when you are angry. Not when you are busy. Perhaps over a cup of milk or ice cream. When everyone is calm, then talk.

No one said parenting is easy, especially when you become a parent of troubled teens. But like in life, if you are willing to work at it, open yourself up to their hurts and frustrations, you just might be able to better help them deal with it. And in so doing, life will become better not only for yourself, more importantly for your teen.

Just think of yourself as the steady rock in the midst of a storm. You are their refuge in times of stress through their troubled times. Be steadfast, although at times, what you do may not seem to work. Persevere. Remember that while parenting troubled teens might be difficult for you, for your teenager being a teen is trouble enough. The world we live in today is so different from the past. Our children are exposed to more things than we had ever seen before.

So let's be more understanding and sympathize with them. Work at it. It's all worth it in the end.
About the Author
Proud mother and grandmother of teens, has experienced the ups and downs of building a great relationship with her children. Find out how she does it at http://www.teenageparentingguide.com
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