How should you parent a teen that is having difficulty transitioning into adulthood? This grey area poses a challenge for many parents. Here is some advice on how to guide your teen through this difficult time while also holding them accountable for their choices and preparing them for responsible adulthood. In many cases, camps for troubled young adults or wilderness therapy programs can provide a much needed fresh start, and a positive environment.
Support VS Self-sufficiency: Parents Must Strike A Balance
A child’s transition from adolescence to adulthood can be a difficult time for a parent. For teens struggling with behavioral, mental health, or substance abuse issues, it can be especially hard to determine how to parent effectively. The most common struggle is to strike a balance between supporting the child through troubling times, but ensuring they can survive, and thrive, on their own. “Helicopter parenting” isn’t the solution. Hovering over and catering to your teen enables bad behavior and restricts their growth and development. But neither is the “hands off” approach ideal. Teens need help through trying times, and there is no one more responsible for providing this support than a parent.Compromises To Hold Your Teen Accountable
At this stage, it is better to treat your teen as an adult rather than as a child. One way to do this is to make compromises with your teen so that they can develop a sense of responsibility and accountability. For instance, rather than taking the car away after a failed drug test, your teen should earn their driving privileges by participating in a 12-step meeting. Focus on the actions that can help your teen move forward, rather than on punishments or revoked privileges.Teens Need A Non-Parent Resource
You don’t have to shoulder the difficulty of helping your teen transform into a healthy adult alone – and in fact, you shouldn’t. Frequently with teens, it’s not the message they resist, but the messenger. No matter what a parent says and how helpful they try to be, there’s a good chance that it will fall on deaf ears. As far as a defiant teen is concerned, parents know nothing. Some teens may go as far as to do the opposite of what their parents advise, just because their parents advise it. When the same message comes from a different source, like a professional therapist, doctor, or school counselor, a teen is much more likely to listen, digest information, and get help. Hearing it from a respected peer, whose behavior they can then model, is even better.Gain A Fresh Perspective In A New Place
Some troubled teens need more than just a conversation or therapy; they need a change of scenery. Wilderness therapy is a treatment program that combines peer and instructor support. Without parents around, teens find themselves much more open and willing to change. Taken out of the status quo where strained relationships and bad habits reign supreme, teens are able to recognize the changes that they need to make and take the steps towards achieving that.
Many parents find that when their teen returns home, he or she is ready, excited and better equipped to enter adulthood. And after relationships have had a little “breathing room,” it is much easier to move forward in a positive and mutually respectful direction.
The transition from adolescence to adulthood is difficult for both parents and teens – and more so if there are behavioral, mental health, or substance abuse issues to contend with. Parents need to keep balance in mind above all else: neither helicopter parenting nor a “laissez fair” attitude will do. Most importantly, parents need to understand that teens are more receptive to messages from non-family members, such as counselors, therapists, or peers. In some circumstances, the best way to “parent” a trouble teen is to send them to wilderness therapy, where they can gain autonomy and a fresh perspective.
Wilderness therapy is an effective and positive environment and option for those seeking camps for troubled young adults. Contact Rites of Passage today at (800)794-0980 to register now.