Strained Relations

Strained Relations: Help for Struggling Parents of Troubled Teens

Troubled Teen Pulls Through

Posted by Marcia on November 15, 2009

I do various workshops and presentations and after one of them, a woman told me the story of a family she knew.

The parents had hoped “Ann” would grow out of her difficulties  or maybe she’d just get married and move out.  There were no high expectations of Ann as she was female, but her brothers were encouraged to achieve in school and in business.  

At 20, Ann was not working, had left college in her freshman year, and her boyfriend was abusive.  The father had run out of patience and told her she had two weeks in which to either get a job or move out.  The mother was appalled and upset, arguing with her husband that her daughter should just stay at home, that at least they would know where she was.  The father prevailed and Ann moved into a rented room with a friend.  She found a job and bounced from job to job over the next three years. 

At a certain point, Ann looked at her friends and compared her life to their lives.  They had completed college or had been working in one job for awhile.  They were growing up and moving on, but she felt “stuck”.  She signed up for a class at the local college and learned how to study for a college course.  Although it took her several years to complete her undergraduate degree, she did it because she felt the drive, she understood the value, and she felt proud of herself for each accomplishment.

“Ann” is now an executive, and she is the one who relayed this story.  She learned many years later that the disagreements between her parents brought them to the brink of a divorce and it was terribly hard on both of her parents; they worried about her constantly.  They felt tremendous pride and joy when they attended her graduation ceremony, and her mother died a short time later.

Ann said she is now dealing with her own difficult teen, and her experience has given her a special insight into his difficulties, how she can best help him and how he needs to help himself.  And she’s ready to give him the toughlove he needs to be responsible.

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2 Responses to “Troubled Teen Pulls Through”

  1. Jacob W said

    As a parent its always hard to make a decision like Ann’s parents did. Do you kick them out when they’re having problems or do you keep them in your home? It sounds like Ann would have figured things out either way but sometimes these decisions can be very hard.

  2. Marcia said

    I agree that making these decisions can be agonizing.

    There has to be a strong rule that when that person is doing something dangerous and illegal, that’s when they have to go. A good example of that was my other posting about the young adult doing meth with a lot of people coming and going quickly, so he was likely dealing, too. They’ll endanger themselves elsewhere and your family home will be safer.

    It’s far trickier when the person is just lazy and disruptive to the household because that person is not doing anything with his/her life. If you have a family rule that adults (over 18) can stay at home if they are going to school or working or both, then that’s the rule. If you have that rule from the start and the young adult chooses to ignore the house rule, then you have an issue to discuss and possibly act on. I don’t feel one should take these steps lightly, but clear expectations should be discussed and enforced. For some young adults, this is the “kick in the pants” they need. I just heard a story about that and will relay it another time.

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