From the time their children are born, most parents recognize how huge a deal it is to be responsible for another person’s life, at least until they reach an age where they can already be responsible for themselves. Even then, most parents will say that “being a parent” never really stops. For parents who are faced with the challenge of parenting struggling teens, finding help for at risk youth becomes an important priority.
Is it just a phase?
Parenting a team already comes with expected challenges. Some teens outgrow this phase and escape it relatively unscathed. Some don’t. Given the kind of challenge parents usually face with teens, it’s not surprising for parents to often wonder if they are just being overprotective or if they’re only overreacting to this phase in their teens’ lives.
It’s already a given that teens will eventually make bad choices in their life. It’s simply part of growing up. It’s not good for parents to make all the choices for their teens and rob them of the lessons that they learn through making mistakes. However, there are times when parents can see their teens making bad choices that will potentially have lifelong repercussions, or are starting to disrupt the quality of life that they have at home and at school.
For example, troubled teens who are beginning to sexually act out put themselves at risk of unwanted pregnancy or getting STDs. Teens who are beginning to try dangerous activities and show defiant behavior towards their parents may escalate to doing life-threatening acts, like drunk driving, gang-related activities, and more. Teens who are beginning to experiment with substances may be on their way to struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction. Many adults who become addicted to hard drugs admit that their addiction started with trying out something mild like marijuana or ecstasy, thinking that they can stop whenever they want.
Where to Start
Parents who see their teens struggling with bad choices and spiraling out of control are right in starting to look for programs for troubled youth that can help. Where do you start finding help for at risk youths? Here are a few thoughts to start you off:
School Guidance Counselor – A large percentage of your teen’s time is spent in school. Working closely with your teen’s teachers and guidance counselor at school can give you a clue on what issues you don’t see at home. The guidance counselor can also make recommendations on what kind of help for at risk youth may be applicable for your child.
Non-Residential Counseling – Counseling works best for teens who want to be counselled. It may still help unwilling teens, but sometimes, teens who don’t want counseling and have made up their minds against it may just waste their parents’ time and money. It doesn’t help to try, though. Some parents seek counseling themselves in order to gain insight on how to talk to their teens and help them become open to this kind of intervention. It’s worth noting though that non-residential counseling does not take your child away from bad influences and peer groups.
Residential Counseling – Many parents who want to send their troubled teens to traditional boarding school find that many schools don’t admit troubled teens. This is especially true for boarding schools that have a stringent admissions process. Instead of traditional boarding schools, parents of at risk youth can consider residential counseling. The staff of these schools are trained to deal specifically with different types of struggling teens’ issues. Troubled teens boarding schools can help teens get consistent counseling while also earning academic credits. There are also shorter summer programs that can help at risk youth transition back to mainstream schools. It’s worth noting that residential counseling significantly lowers teens’ contact with bad influences that make recovery harder to achieve.
Different troubled teens struggle with different issues of varying degrees. There’s no single solution that helps everybody. Parents often need to learn their role in creating a home environment that is supportive to their teens’ improvement. In reality, helping a troubled teen become a well-adjusted young person is a family effort and it takes time to achieve.