Parenthood is full of responsibilities and tough decisions, but nothing can prepare even the best parent for the difficulties that come with having a troublesome child. While we all do our best to instill our values in our children and to help them feel loved, secure and supported, there are things that are beyond anyone’s control. And when our children begin acting out in ways that threaten their future, break the law, or make us worry for their safety or that of others, then it is very difficult to know what to do.
Below, we’ll lay out just a few of the things that you should consider as you grapple with the realities of raising a troublesome teen.
Taking immediate action to protect your teen’s future
When our children act out in ways that challenge our core values, it can be tempting to make them live with the consequences. And, in fact, that’s sometimes a good idea — but be very careful about what you consider a “life lesson.”
Like it or not, criminal law experts say, our criminal justice system does not encourage reform and betterment among the convicted. Three-quarters of all people released from prison end up re-offending and are sent back within five years.
While you should never condone illegal behavior from your child, you should make sure that his or her rights are protected. Call a criminal lawyer if your child needs one. Fighting for a brighter future for your child means changing their behaviors, but it also means preserving the future they’re supposed to be fighting for.
Bringing in professionals
A criminal law specialist is an expert that your child needs in court, but what about at home? What about when things hurt, or when acting out seems to be the only form of behavior for them?
You can—and should—turn to mental health professionals and child behavior experts as soon as possible. You may think that it’s too early to call in the pros, but the fact of the matter is that outdated stigma keeps most people from pursuing the mental health support they truly need. You wouldn’t deny your child care for a physical ailment, so don’t delay reaching out to mental health experts should your child’s behavior necessitate such resources.
Considering residential treatment programs
Seeking the assistance of mental health professionals can be immensely helpful for young individuals. But sometimes, it takes more than regular visits to a professional’s office to help a young teen get back on the right track. You should consider the possibility of enrolling your child in an on-site treatment program.
Finding good troubled youth programs isn’t hard if you team up with the mental health experts who are helping you and your child. You’ll find options for drug rehabilitation, treating depression or anxiety, and much more. A change of scenery and round-the-clock focus on the issues at hand could really help your child on the long-run.
One of the most important things you can do as a parent is to set boundaries for your child, but knowing when and where to draw the line can be difficult. You shouldn’t let your child go to jail, and you know you should support him or her with mental health treatment options like on-site care, but you also know you can’t show your child that their behavior is acceptable, or invite them to walk all over you.
Set boundaries that protect you and your family from mistreatment at the hands of your child. Disappointing you is one thing, but harming you is quite another. Work with mental health experts to set specific boundaries and communicate clearly with your child.
Getting through this
Adolescent years can be an incredibly difficult time for your child, but it’s also an incredibly difficult time for you. Protect yourself, set boundaries, and spend time talking with mental health experts about your situation as well as your child’s. Care for yourself, and don’t be overly critical of your decisions and efforts to help your child. Do the best you can and love yourself for it. With the help of experts, your best may be enough to give your child a path forward to a brighter future.