Thursday, January 28, 2010


So, you find yourself with a troubled teen. What can you do? First, you must not feel guilty, because you are not the only influence in your teen's life. Oh, if only it were that simple.

  • Your teen becomes more secretive.
  • Your teen disregards house rules.
  • Your teen is defiant towards you or teachers.
  • Your teen is easily agitated and uses profanity regularly and shows disrespect.
  • Your teen has regular, sudden outbursts of anger that seem unreasonable for the event that caused the anger.
  • Your teen regularly misses curfew, does not show up when expected, and lies about his/her whereabouts.
  • Your teenager has suddenly changed his/her peer group and hasn't made an effort to let you meet these new friends. The new group has led to a distinct change in appearance (clothing, jewelry) and change in attitude (more sullen, defiant, hostile).
  • Your teen has stolen money from you on regular occasions.
  • Your teen's grades have suddenly dropped and he/she has lost interest in his/her usual activities.
  • You discover your teen using drugs and/or alcohol.
Somewhere along the way, parents and teens have forgotten the difference between rights and privileges. As parents, we live such busy lives just trying to support our family that we feel guilty about not being able to spend as much time with our teen as we should. To make up for this guilt, we give our teens whatever they want; whenever they want it; whether they deserve it or not. It's time for parents to stop feeling guilty.
According to Child Protective Services (CPS), your teen has a right to have a roof over his/her head, 2 sets of clean clothing, nutritious food, medical care, and an abuse-free home. CPS does not require parents to supply any extra amenities, including:
  • TV
  • CD's
  • DVD's
  • XBox
  • Ipod/MP3 Player
  • Cell Phone
  • Cable
  • Stereo
  • Computer
  • Internet
  • Driver's License
  • A car
  • Gas
  • Allowance
  • Designer Clothes
  • Music/Dance Lessons
  • Sports
  • Their favorite snacks...These are privileges, not rights.
Did you know you are not required to furnish a bed for your teen? This is not a right. It is a privilege.


If you have been following my blog, then you know Hollie was a troubled teen. I had asked Hollie over and over to stop putting stuff under her bed. I would search her room often (she knew I did this; don't sneak around), and the more stuff under her bed, the longer it took me to finish. (I think she was trying to deter me.) At this point, I wasn't looking for drugs, I was looking for objects she could cut herself with (and yes, she hid them). (See my post To Snoop or Not to Snoop.) So, I finally took her bed apart and put the mattress flat on the floor. Did she like this? No...she didn't, but this was not about her. It was about making my job to keep her safe a lot easier...and quicker.

Once she started using drugs, she always locked her bedroom door. I told her over and over, if she didn't stop locking her door, the door was coming down. So, that day came when I decided the door needed to come down. It turned out to be difficult to remove the door, so I removed the doorknob, so she couldn't lock her door. Did she like it? Oh no, she didn't. She was mad! But having a door (or doorknob) is privilege, not a right.

Parents have to use these privileges to their advantage. So, if you recognize the above warning signs of a troubled teen in your teenager, strip everything out of their room, but a mattress on the floor. (You should supply sheets and a blanket.) And then let your teen start earning these privileges back. I know this may seem cruel, but remember you're trying to save your teen.


When your teen starts having problems, your first thought may be to take him/her out of public school and put him/her in a private or Christian school. That's exactly what I did. But a word of warning, don't think that just because you put your teen in a "Christian" school, he/she will suddenly turn back into that sweet little angel, because that's not happening. Drugs can be easier for them to get at a private/Christian school than in public school. Remember, every other parent who has a troubled teen has put their child in this same private/Christian school.


After Hollie failed 7th grade twice and I realized she was in trouble, I decided to remove her from Pearl and her friends. I sent her to live with her grandmother, and sometimes her dad, who both lived in Byram, and I enrolled her in a Christian school there. Did she like it? No...she was very mad, but again this wasn't about what she wanted. She lost her right to choose when she started with the drugs and other dangerous behavior.
The only problem with moving her to Byram was I lost complete control of the situation. Her grandmother trusted her too much (and I love her grandmother), and she gave Hollie too much freedom, so things got worse instead of better. After Hollie almost overdosed on Triple C, I put her in rehab. After a lot of praying, after rehab, I decided to leave Hollie in the school in Byram (her grades had improved), but I brought her back home to live with me. Yes, it turned out to be more work for me, having to drive her 30 minutes to school every morning before going to work, but as parents we have to do whatever it takes to keep our teens safe.
  • Always let your teen know you love them no matter what they do and no matter what kind of trouble they get into. They need to know that they can always count on you to be there.
  • If you expect your teen to live by certain standards, you have got to mirror those same standards. That old saying, "do as I say, not as I do" doesn't work. Believe it or not, your teen looks to you for guidance. A dad who chugs a case of beer on the weekend, can't tell his son "don't drink" and expect his son to listen. (That's just my opinion.)
  • Never back down when it comes to the rules you have established. Your teen will try to push the limits. Be ready for them.
  • Parents need to spend quality time with their teen to establish a solid, trusting relationship. (Quality is more important than quantity. Again, that's my opinion.) Spending 15 minutes in meaningful conversation with your teen, learning what is happening in their life goes a lot further in establishing a good relationship than sitting in front of the TV for an hour (with your teen) in silence.
  • Be aware of your teen's struggles. Chances are, he/she won't ask for help. It is vital that teens have hands-on parents who can recognize potential problems and help their teen deal with these situations before there is a crisis.
  • Do realize, there are times you may have to seek professional help for your teen. Some of these problems are more than a parent is capable of handling.
  • And don't ever give up on your teen. Be patient, no matter how hard it is. Luckily, this too will pass.
P.S. The one thing I never did was read Hollie's diary. But...if she left her notes by the computer or dropped on the living room floor, then they became community property for anyone to read.

P.S.S. And please realize, I'm not an expert, but this is what worked for me in helping Hollie through her troubled teen years. She is now 20, in college, and doing well.




MeghanM said...

Wow-great advice. My kids are oldest is only 6, but he is already showing signs of anxiety and anger. I'm worried about him, and feel that the best I can do right now is to pray for him, discipline him appropriately, love him love him love him, and the quality time thing too of course. We have a great youth program at our church that has changed the lives of many troubled teens and I am so thankful that our boys will be a part of that during their teens years.

Visiting from SITS!

Katinka said...

Stopping by from SITS and wishing you a Happt Thursday!!!!

Danae Hudson said...

Stopping by from SITS

My mother had that rule: she wouldn't snoop, but if there were notes in the floor or in jean pockets, they were community property.

I guess I was a trouble teen. I didn't do drugs, but I did cut myself. When my mom found out, she didn't talk to me for two weeks. Even now, it sometimes makes me fear telling her things.

Anonymous said...

This is so great that you posted this. I think it's important to remember what are privaleges and what we are supposed to provide them. I am a big supporter of stripping kids to their basics - I have even stripped the bed of the new designer sheets and replaced them with (heaven forbid plain, mis-matched wal-mart clearance sheets. I used them and thought they were fine). I watch Intervention religiously with my pre-teenaged daughter who I am already having signs of trouble with. I think you touch on a lot of really important points. Thanks for reminding me that I am actually doing some things right.

I am mostly glad to read that she's doing well and in college. You did good momma.

Happy SITS Saturday Sharefest to you, my friend.


Romy said...

Stopping by from SITS, Happy Sharefest! Thanks for the candid sharing and advice, I don't have a teen yet, but one day I will and this is food for thought

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Wander said...

Wow...tough post!
I have 3 teens....oldest is in college! None of them "troubled".
I also teach at a public high school....and I see firsthand lots of hurting & messed up kids.

I can only give God the credit for the way my own kids have turned out. He has been the focus for our family all along. There are many families struggling out there with this sort of problem.

Discipline, love and open communication are very important in parenting.
Sounds like you made some hard decisions!
Bless you!

Luschka said...

Our TV viewing time was highly restricted in the home. One day my dad came home and we were watching TV and he told us to switch off or he'd get rid of the TV to which I replied that he COULDN'T do that - It's our right to watch TV, after all. Lol. My Dad was so great (in retrospect!) Right there he unplugged the TV and walked over to our cleaner and gave her the TV. We went without for years after that. Also never tried to tell my dad what he can and can't do again! My LO is only 4 months, but I think this is such valuable advice. Might as well start as we mean to go on! Thank you so much for sharing!

Stopping by from SITS

Mommy Kennedy said...

Coming by through SITS!

Thank you so much for being so honest with your readers. My daughter is just 9yo and is already troubled with an anxiety disorder and ADHD. I'm afraid we have a very bumpy road ahead of us. We already are seek help from professionals and are no longer denying that she has issues. That was hard for us to get over.

I love the look of your blog too!

Teresa Perea said...

love this post! I agree 100%. I have some pretty strict rules but lots of freedom, I have 4 boys and am on the 2nd teenager, so far so good, but my daughter is 6 and hear that girls are much more challenging.. I will keep you and yours in my prayers. I will be following!! Happy Saturday Sharefest!

Kat @ said...

Just loved this post... coming from SITS. Random, but are you going to Bloggy Boot Camp in Baltimore?

Just A Normal Mom said...

Wow - it's so good to see parents who stick with it through those unbelievably challenging times. I've been fortunate with my teen not to have them, so I don't have first hand experience. But I've seen other parents who seem to just throw up their hands and give up. Some day your teen will look back and realize how much you cared. (It may be quite a few years, but I'm confident it will happen some day)
Stopping by from SITS

Joy@TPMG said...

It's not always easy doing what is best for our kids. This is really good advice for parents struggling with their teens. I am glad that your daughter is doing so well now. I am so not looking forward to the teen years with my daughters.

The Whites said...

Stopping by from SITS. saw your blog roll status and noticed you were from MS. We are in Brookhaven. Just wanted to say "hi". Enjoy the snow. It's beautiful!!

laura said...

happy saturday!

What a great post! I am not looking forward to raise a teenager..

Tami G said...

Stopped by from SITS
I very much admire this post and your method of dealing.
I have a 14 year old boy. He's a pretty good kid, but grades are falling and he doesn't really seem to care anymore...
i've been working with different methods in dealing with this. He has been grounded for almost a month and still asks almost daily if he can be ungrounded... but nothing has changed.
the child has NO responsibility around the house (my fault) so I'm working on changing that...
so far - not much motivation or progress on his own free will. I STILL have to push chores!
o well
it's a work in progress.

I'm following you now :)

Just One Week said...

It is amazing how much parents think a private school will change their child's behavior/exposure/peer group. In my friend group in college, it was very obvious that the more your school cost, the more access you had to all sorts of things. And don't get me started on the boarding schools.

Happy SITS Saturday.

ProudTejana said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. My kids have given me my gray hairs that's for sure. And definitely went through some trying times but not as difficult as you. My youngest is now 18 and the older two "nag" her more than i do. "listen to mom, she is right (OH!) i wish i'd listened". "Do good in school or you'll regret it." they've realized how much simpler it would have been if they had listed but as most of us do, we have to learn through our own mistakes and live with the consequences. After changing her mind a few times my oldest is now pursuing nursing (she is 26) and my son is working full time and going to school (he is 23). as i keep telling them its so much harder to work and go to school when you have a family - they have finally realized and are buckling down to finish up before taking on those additional responsibilities. Thank goodness they do not have them yet. Good luck and happy SITS saturday sharefest.

Brassy Apple said...

oh my goodness. Lots of wisdom and advice. My children are still little - thank goodness.

Stopping by via SITS!

Leal @ BnBbyGilliauna said...

I know so many parents who really need this advice and I plan on passing this on to them. I don't think most parents realize how much of what they give their children is a privileged, not a right.

Growing up, my twin sister and I shared a room and between one of us being in trouble or the other, we spent most of our teen years without a bedroom door.

Elizabeth Patch said...

thanks for stopping by my blog and helping make my SITS day so wonderful! I have been a high school teacher for 20 years and can perfectly empathize with your post.

Unknown said...

great into. I'm so glad I'm thru those years. AND, so glad I had boys. Lots of sleepless nights, tho.
btw, I used to be a medical transcriptionist too. Miss it . . .sometimes ;)
Happy SITS Saturday Sharefest!

Unknown said...

Stopping over from SITS to say hello!

Parenting teens is much harder than I thought it was going to be. Thanks for sharing this great post.

Oh, and I love your blog design! It's so pretty.

I am Harriet said...

It's a whole different world for teens today. Great post.

Stopping by via SITS to say hello.
Enjoy your week.


Elizabeth said...

I can only hope my toddlers and I have a great relationship so I can survive teenage-hood.
Visiting from Harriet & Friends.

Unknown said...

wow, great blog!!!!

Alexis Voltaire said...

Great post, I agree and I'm still a teen myself. I wish someone had stepped in for me sometimes, but especially for my friends who are now drug addicts, pregnant, etc.

Anonymous said...

Wow that is a great article.. I' m enjoy it.. good post

John James said...

In some situation, parents can contribute on having their teens troubled. But this can be normal while they mature, but if it is too much then I bet you must take actions to their behavior. And if you wish to be guided, click here for more information about troubled teens .

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