Good Kids, Bad Choices: When Parents Reach Wit's End


Good Kids, Bad Choices: When Parents Reach Wit's End

By Sue Scheff for



Summer is almost here and some parents will be considering summer camps while others are in the midst of hoping their teenager passes the school year, or has enough credits to graduate. If you are the parent of a teen who is struggling with school and acting out, it can drive you to your wit's end.

Maybe your once fun-loving teenager who is good-looking, intelligent, and has lots of good friends is now talking back to you, staying out late or sneaking out, defiant, and possibly sexually active? On the flip side, your once sweet child might be a teenage misfit who is acting out because of bullying, or is experimenting with sex, drugs, and/or alcohol in a desperate attempt to find acceptance.


What happens when you have a teenager that decides they don't want to finish high school when they are more than capable? Perhaps they were consistently getting excellent grades and now they are just getting by or failing completely. From an overachiever to an underachiever. Or you have the teen that used to be a great athlete, was a popular kid in school--suddenly your child has become withdrawn and is hanging with a group of new peers that are less than desirable.



Possible, but how do you know when it is and when you need to intervene?

As the school year is coming to an end, it is a good time for parents to evaluate where their teen is at both emotionally and academically--especially if they are in High School. These are your final years to make a significant difference in their lives, and get them on a positive road towards their futures. When a child is crying out for help by using illegal substances, running away, flunking in school, becoming secretive, possibly affiliating with a gang, or displaying other negative behavior, it is a parent's responsibility to get involved, as painful as that is, and seek treatment.


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When adolescents reach the point of rebelliousness, many parents will try therapy, and this is a good place to start. But the success of local treatment will depend on the child and how far their behavior has escalated. Unfortunately, many parents I have spoken to have reported that the one-hour session once a week -- or even twice a week -- rarely makes a difference in their teen's behavior.


For many parents there comes a time when residential therapy is taken under serious consideration--especially if drugs and/or alcohol are an issue. It is important to seek outside help, and removing a teen from their environment can be critical in getting them the help they need to heal. This is particularly true when a teen needs to be separated from undesirable peers that are instigating or perpetuating their negative behavior.

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission.
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