When kids are in trouble, there is heartbreak and heartache. There is frustration, anger, and perhaps shame. When children are born there are no pre-requisite courses to take, no manuals given, and no licensing to be had. A new being is placed in your arms, you are given your discharge papers, and off you go. Sometimes things go remarkably well and uneventfully, or even "well enough". However, sometimes children can be especially challenging for parents, siblings, schools, and entire communities. We also happen to live in a highly judgemental society where parents often feel reticent about sharing when things are tough with their children. There is fear of judgement, retribution, exclusion, and blame. Many parents are filled with dread and shame when their two year olds have tantrums in the middle of the supermarket fearing that everyone will KNOW what a TERRIBLE parent they are. For two year olds, tantrums are their specialty, and there is nothing abnormal about a normal tantrum. If there is so much fear about what a healthy child's tantrum might reveal about your parenting, what might a teenager who steals, acts out sexually, or makes meth from cold medicine reflect about your parenting, from your own self-critical point of view of course? It is so impoartant that if your kid is in trouble that you reach out. You must be terrified for your child's well being, safety, happiness, and future. Many cultures know the value of raising children in a community. The highly privatized and isolated nuclear family is a relatively new entity. Kids in trouble need a community. Parents suffering over how to help their children need somewhere to voice their worries, concerns, and pain so that they can begin to unburden their guilt, and really get access to the resources--- internal and external --- they may need to help their kids get themselves out of trouble.
You are not alone and neither is your child. Whether your child is eight or eighteen, you are not alone and you can have a positive and powerful impact. Your child's job is to train you as a parent, but sometimes your chldren are marching at a very quick pace and you are having a tough time keeping up. You are not a bad parent, and you may need some help. Needing help does not make a person bad, it makes you human. Welcome to the human race. How many times do we tell children that we want them to love learning, yet to learn we need to feel good about asking questions and relying on others. When you, as a parent need help, are you setting an example that asking for help is something to be admired or a source of shame and feeling stupid? Help can come in many different forms. You may have religious clergy you can talk to, a helpful teacher or counselor at school, or you can reach out to a therapist, coach, or guidance worker. I am available for consultations and therapy and provide referrals that you may find helpful. You may find that a particular website or book makes all the difference. Often it is a therapist or educational consultant who can help most.
I often see families of teenagers prior to, and after having attended therapeutic boarding schools. It is so tough for any parent to think that their children could reach such dark times that they might need to send that child to a residential program. Yet the outcomes of these programs when the match is good, can be utterly remarkable and truly lifesaving. Sometimes the issues at hand cannot be rectified in the home environment. Sometimes kids in trouble need space to decompress and reconnect to themselves in a non-toxic way, away from the drug and sex cultures they are ensconced in. Therapeutic boarding schools, residential treatment centers, local child guidance clinics, and therapeutic wilderness programs are some of the truly remarkable resources out there. Assessments and consultations are very powerful tools which can help you and your kid in trouble slow things down and really look at what you all need. Sometimes the wheels are turning so fast and the crises are such an ongoing onslaught that it is hard to find the mental space to breathe and really look at where you are and what your options are. With assessment and consultation, you will get a moment to step out of the storm and hear yourself think. I want to know what is going with you, what you think is going on with your kid in trouble, and why you think these things. I want to explore with you the gap between how you think it should be, how it is in reality, and the impact the gap has on your life and the life of your family. Then we can begin to help your child. It may be that you need an educational consultant. It may be that your child is struggling with a neurogical issue involving vision, speech, or auditory processing. Maybe your child is mourning or grieving a loss you are or are not aware of. Maybe your kid in trouble is dealing with addiction or gender confusion. The possibilities are numerous, knowable, and workable. Each person's personality, like a fingerprint, is unique. There can be no manuals or licenses for parents because there are always unique issues and dynamics. The point is that you are not alone and can seek relief. Please feel free to call me with any questions or concerns. I will be adding contacts and links to resources that I have found to be helpful, and perhaps you will too.
If your are still reading this article, you have truly taken a first step in making a positive impact on your kid in trouble and your whole family. A still, small voice in your head may say that your kid isn't in that much trouble. Hey, what's a little pot? Hey, what's a little lie here and there? Hey, so they took a little money without asking. If in your gut you feel your kid is in trouble, make a call! Find a sounding board where you feel heard, understood, and not judged. Kids in trouble need your help; and parents of kids in trouble need some help too. Be the role model for your children, if you want them to get out of trouble. Show them how it is done by allowing someone who cares to help you. It's really not that hard once you make the first call. You and your family will feel better when you get into action and break the cycle of trying to merely survive each new day, and begin to embrace what it means to thrive in one's life. Life does not have to be about barely getting through it on a daily basisl. LIfe can be about happiness, fulfillment, and love, you just may need to reach out a little more to make it happen.