Strained Relations

Strained Relations: Help for Struggling Parents of Troubled Teens

Archive for August, 2009

“Tom” is at the end of his rope.

Posted by Marcia on August 29, 2009

“Tom” – I’m changing his name to protect his privacy – wrote regarding this blog, and he said some things I’ve thought, said, or written about.

Tom wrote about living with dishonesty and disrespect and tolerating it. He wrote of angry outbursts, his and his son’s, and the frustrations that go along with being the parent of a destructive person. He noted the wasted time and energy while hoping to make his child change. And he wrote about his angry, spiteful, resentful teen.

He said he was at the end of his rope, ready to kick his kid out the door and worried about losing his marriage, too. The parents were not on the same page, and his wife had been enabling their son, even lying for him to avoid family confrontations and arguments.

It’s a sad story, and I’m afraid it’s a common one. Unless the parents get on the same page and are consistent with their son, they don’t have a prayer of getting their son on track and may even face divorce. Their anger and resentment of their son and each other is imploding their family.

I wrote that there are resources listed at, and I hope they all get the help they need.

I’m reading and hearing a lot of sad stories, and I hope Tom’s family has a good outcome.


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Call From a Parent

Posted by Marcia on August 20, 2009

I received a lovely call from one of the parents interviewed for the book. She and her husband have three sons. They are close with the two older sons, but the youngest is one that no one in the family can deeply relate to. They love him, they want him to have a great life and they want to see him. His life, interests, and lack of intellectual curiosity makes it hard for them to relate.

The parents read the book, and when one of their older sons saw it, he read it, too. He recognized their family and it gave him another insight into how his parents felt. And he recommended it to both of his brothers.

Once everyone had read the book, it gave them an open to talk in-depth about their feelings, their love and their frustrations.

It didn’t change the fact that they don’t share many interests with their youngest son, but they have a deeper emotional connection. They accept each other and enjoy being together.
I believe they had reached a point where they were beyond hoping for the “perfect family” and they accepted being close and loving.

Knowing this family’s story and hearing an update reminded me that relationships are fluid, that families can endure difficult times and find solid ground together.

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A Worried Parent Called

Posted by Marcia on August 7, 2009

A man who had read my book called to discuss the topic. His therapist thought he should read it, and he understood why once he read the first few pages. He felt he had to share his story.

This man is a highly educated executive in a high tech company living in a prime location. His family has the best of everything: a great home and vacation homes, cars and possessions, but his family was falling apart. He’d been a “great provider” and he was positive that no one in his social circle would suffer anguish due to their teens’ behaviors.

Both of these kids went to great schools, were tutored when needed and were kept very busy so they would stay out of trouble. And both of them, around age 14, started drinking and displaying a lot of anger towards both parents. The kids ruled the home: the mother was afraid to tell them to stop and that escalated their bad behavior. The father worked at the office very long hours, primarily seeing the family on the weekend. The situation in their home was so difficult and frustrating, the parents felt helpless to stop the downhill slide of their family.

The parents were considering a divorce and an ugly truth came out: neither of them wanted to live with the kids. Their lives were out of control in every way. While seeking help for their marriage, the topic of their kids came up immediately. Their therapist referred them to a specialist working with teens. While the parents went for marriage counseling, they also consulted a coach to work with them on effective parenting techniques.

Meanwhile, both kids were evaluated and it was determined their son needed immediate intervention. He had gone far beyond drinking and was heavily into drugs. A year ago, he was placed in an emotional growth school where he receives individual and group therapy. He has steadily been modifying and improving his behavior.

They hoped to correct their parenting skills in time to help their daughter, but they learned via a social networking site how deep her problems have become, and they feel the safest place for her is in a separate school for girls. She’ll be sent to one this weekend, but she doesn’t know about it.

Both parents are devastated and worried about their children. They have wondered where they went wrong and still feel very alone. This isn’t the kind of thing one discusses among executives or at social events.

They have decided that saving their children and their marriage was more important than anything and took action to improve their lives. Their decisions were not easy and were driven by worry and desperation, but their recovery as a family will surely happen.

Posted in out of control teens, Parents and teens, Troubled teens, worried parents | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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