We all have days when we wonder why there isn’t some sort of manual for parenting. And if you’re the parent of a troubled teen, you’ve also had days when you wonder what you’ve done wrong. Parenting is tough. Parenting a troubled teen is even tougher. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be an awesome parent.
Here are three tried-and-true ways to increase the awesome factor and improve your relationship with your troubled teen:
1. Talk, pure and simple.
Parents of troubled teens tend to fall into a cycle of yelling, lecturing or nagging. When our kids become defiant or depressed, it’s easy to rely on our authority as a parent to sway them into behaving. The consequence of this is that we stop communicating by simply talking. Regular conversation is key to building trust and cooperation with teens. So take the time to share family news, compare notes on your favorite playoff teams or just ask how your teen’s day was.
2. Show your love.
Don’t just focus on the difficulties your teen is facing; acknowledge the positives too. Tell your daughter when she’s done something that makes you proud, and highlight activities or subjects that she excels in. This is key if your teen has problems with drug abuse, which often stem from low self-esteem. Recognizing the positives will counteract your teen’s feelings of insecurity.
It’s also crucial that you express your unconditional love for your teen. This seems like a no-brainer, but anger, disappointment and fear often get the spotlight in homes with troubled teens. Reminding your son that you love him and want the best for him regardless of his mistakes will reassure him that you’re still on his side.
3. Know when to ask for help.
Part of being an awesome parent is knowing when you can’t do it on your own. If your teen is having serious issues with depression, drug use or drinking, it might be time to educate yourself on the types of assistance and treatment that are available for troubled teens. Establishing clear rules, showing your support and talking it out sometimes isn’t enough; don’t be too proud to turn to a professional if you feel like you aren’t making headway with your teen.
And, remember: acknowledge your own strengths the same way you acknowledge your teenager’s. Parenting isn’t an easy job; if you’re loving and supporting your teen the best that you can, then you are an awesome parent.