Strained Relations

Strained Relations: Help for Struggling Parents of Troubled Teens

Archive for the ‘Troubled teens’ Category

After a Long Estrangement: Reuiniting!

Posted by Marcia on April 29, 2013

I have moved my blog; please click here for the new location.  Here’s a bit of the next post:

My regular readers know why I wrote the book (Strained Relations: Help for Struggling Parents of Troubled Teens) and started this blog: it was all inspired by my own difficult relationship with my son. I haven’t written for some time because I was wondering if I had something of value to add from my story. I just haven’t tended this garden.

Here’s why.

I’ve been estranged from my 24 year old son since he was 18. I saw him briefly a couple of times in those years but we had no real conversation, and the reaction I received let me know it wasn’t time for him to talk yet.

So I’ve waited. It’s been tough.


Posted in Troubled teens | Leave a Comment »

Father Checks Son into Rehab

Posted by Marcia on September 18, 2012

I have moved my blog; please click here for the new location.

The new blog post is about a recent conversation I had with someone whose son has been causing them a lot of heartache and the father’s emotions regarding the situation.

Posted in Addiction and Prescription Medicine, alcoholic father, changing parent behavior, changing parent's behavior, chemically dependent, drug use, enabler, enabling, Parents and teens, teen alcoholic, teen and addiction, Troubled teens, worried parents | Leave a Comment »

Save Jack From Leukemia: 23 Year Old Needs Blood Marrow Donor

Posted by Marcia on April 1, 2012

Dear Readers,

I spend a lot of time thinking about the topic of dysfunctional families and the pain those families experience. Today I want to focus on another topic, a 23 year old with leukemia who will die without a bone marrow transplant.

The story caught my breath as Jack Chin was in my son’s high school. He was a UCLA student and was studying Economics and Accounting.




Posted in Troubled teens | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Guest Blogger Scott Morgan: Five Tips for Successful Co-Parenting

Posted by Marcia on February 29, 2012

Today’s guest author is Scott Morgan, a a board certified Austin divorce attorney who regularly blogs on the subject of divorce and family law. You can read his blog at

Divorce is an emotional roller coaster for most couples, but the ride usually ends when a judge grants the divorce and the couple go their separate ways. However, for the divorcing couple with minor children, the ride continues well beyond the judge?s termination of the marriage. They may no longer be married, but they are still to mom and dad, so the parting has to wait until the children are grown.

Co-parenting with an ex-spouse can be difficult, but there are a few simple rules and techniques to help make it easier for you, and, more importantly, less stressful for your children.

To read the remaining post, please go to my other blog. I’m gradually migrating to Strained Relations: Parenting Troubled Teens and hope you sign up for the RSS feed to follow me there.

Posted in changing parent behavior, changing parent's behavior, children of divorce, Co-Parenting, confidence, cope at the holidays, emotional abuse, enabling, estranged, Parents and teens, parents divorce, worried parents | Leave a Comment »

Addiction and Prescription Medicine

Posted by Marcia on February 21, 2012

If you go to the Centers for Disease Control website, you can find reports about the increasing numbers of people addicted to and overdosing from prescription medicine. Here’s a paragraph from an article on their site:

“In 2007, approximately 27,000 unintentional drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States, one death every 19 minutes. Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States. The increase in unintentional drug overdose death rates in recent years (Figure 1) has been driven by increased use of a class of prescription drugs called opioid analgesics (1). Since 2003, more overdose deaths have involved opioid analgesics than heroin and cocaine combined (Figure 2) (1). In addition, for every unintentional overdose death related to an opioid analgesic, nine persons are admitted for substance abuse treatment (2), 35 visit emergency departments (3), 161 report drug abuse or dependence, and 461 report nonmedical uses of opioid analgesics (4). Implementing strategies that target those persons at greatest risk will require strong coordination and collaboration at the federal, state, local, and tribal levels, as well as engagement of parents, youth influencers, health-care professionals, and policy-makers.”

To read the remaining post, please go to my other blog. I’m gradually migrating to Strained Relations: Parenting Troubled Teens and hope you sign up for the RSS feed to follow me there.

Posted in Addiction and Prescription Medicine, behavior of someone using drugs, chemically dependent, danger to self, drug use, enabler, enabling, out of control teens, parent coping with disappointment in kids, parenting adult children, Parents and teens, Prescription Medicine, signs of drug use, teen alcoholic, teen and addiction, teen intervention, Troubled teens | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Guest Blogger Faith Blitman: Bullying Behavior

Posted by Marcia on December 23, 2011

Faith Blitman, M.A. is a Psychotherapist and Certified Drug and Alcohol Assessor in Philadelphia, PA. She provides individual, group and family counseling as well as drug and alcohol assessment and counseling. Faith Blitman, M.A. and Brian Loughlin, M. Ed. work in LINKS, a family reunification program within the Family Service Association in Bucks County, PA. For questions or additional information, please feel free to e-mail either or

According to Stan Davis, a school counselor and bully prevention expert in Maine, a bullying incident occurs every seven minutes. He further speculates that adults intervene in only 4% of school incidents and peers intervene in 11% of these incidents. Bullying is pandemic and can take many forms: (1) Physical – hitting, kicking, punching and shoving; (2) Verbal – insults, name-calling, threatening, disparaging a person’s race, sexual preference, religion, etc., (3) Indirect – spreading gossip/rumors, attempting to turn one’s peer group against them, shooting hateful looks, telling malicious lies; and finally, the deliberate omission of a person from their peer group with the intent of engendering feelings of rejection; (4) Cyber-bullying – sending hurtful text messages, e-mails and instant messages as well as posting injurious information on web pages and sites; (5) Reactive bullying takes place when an individual impulsively acts out of frustration, typically in response to an episode of stress. This particular type of bullying may be the most difficult with which to deal since the person behaves in the dual role of bully and victim.

The causes of bullying behavior vary from individual to individual. Sometimes bullying is learned at home and can result from a lack of supervision, warmth or attention, by reinforcing inconsistent boundaries and rules, as well as by observing parents and older siblings using bullying techniques as a means of managing conflict. Moreover, such parents tend to also incorporate emotional outbursts and physical discipline as corrective measures for their children’s behaviors. Sometimes people require learning new parenting skills since the only tools in their armory are the ones they have learned from their own parents. Hence, the cycle of bullying may be inadvertently passed from generation to generation without benefit of additional intervention and learning. Bullying behavior can also be generated when a person has been bullied by classmates and learns how to express aggression in this manner. Finally, some individuals seem to have a genetic predisposition towards bullying behaviors. Nonetheless, regardless of the cause(s), counseling can help.

The effects of bullying can be profound: damaged self-esteem, anxiety, depression, toxic shame, absenteeism from school, and rage along with a strong tendency to want to exact revenge on perpetrators. Some victims feel so beaten down from this abuse that they simply withdraw from life, relying upon alcohol and drugs to medicate their intense pain or engaging in other addictive/compulsive behaviors. Some who are feeling discarded and uncared for may become pregnant as a desperate means of securing love into their lives. Most significantly, there has been no shortage of reports in the news recently of pre-teens and teens who have been so distraught by bullying, that they saw no escape from their agony but to end their own lives.

There is yet another subset of children who have been bullied who tend to identify with their aggressors, and in contrast to the aforementioned victims, act-out their rage by joining gangs, engaging in criminal acts and frequently perpetuate the bullying cycle by later abusing their own spouses and children. Some of these individuals have been responsible for mass causality school shootings. Since the bully has markedly more power than the victim, the longer bullying ensues, the greater grows the imbalance of power.

Regardless of how any act of abuse presents itself, children need to be well-educated regarding what constitutes bullying, how they should conduct themselves if they or a friend are being victimized by a bully, and to whom they should report these abusive acts. Most researchers quickly point out that bullying behaviors remain consistent if there is no intervention. Nonetheless, when an appropriate and consistent intervention is applied, negative behaviors have been reversible. In addition, it is critical that parents, teachers, and other stewards offer validation and attempt to build as trusting and caring a relationship as possible, so children feel comfortable sharing their concerns. After all, it is every child’s right to feel safe and valued in the world, and it is up to adults to help make that happen.

What can a concerned parent do?

• Be supportive, encourage openness when speaking with your child.
• Express your concerns with your child’s teacher, guidance counselor or principal (making certain to talk this over with your child before taking action).
• Encourage your child to talk to you and other adults at school.
• Ask your child’s school to educate students about bullying.
• If the bullying/victimization behaviors continue, don’t hesitate to seek professional counseling.

Posted in bullies, bullying, Faith Blitman, family difficulties, family violence, listen to family problems, out of control teens, parent coping with disappointment in kids, Parents and teens, teens and consequences, Troubled teens, worried parents | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Loss, Regrets and Living an Honest Life

Posted by Marcia on December 3, 2011

This has been a year of loss for me including several friends and now family members. Sometimes, just when you need something to remind you of important lessons, a friend sends you an article. I was sent “Top Five Regrets of The Dying” and recommend this page.

For those of us coping with difficult family relationships and troubled people, it’s easy to focus on the pain and not view the other wonderful parts of our lives and the positive things we can do.

Are you honest about your hopes and dreams and who you really are? Do you express your feelings? Have you established and kept friends, and are you honest with those friends?

Once I was honest with others about my relationship with my son, I found support, understanding, and a whole lot of other people with their own family pain. It was so reassuring to know I was not alone, and it gave me additional courage to write the book, this blog, and reach out to others.

I know that what I read in that article was very true, and I hope it helps you or gives you something to think about.

Posted in adopted kids, changing parent behavior, changing parent's behavior, cope at the holidays, estranged, estranged from dad, estranged from father, estranged from parents, family difficulties, forgiveness, help at the holidays, holiday season sadness, listen to family problems, missing our son, out of control teens, parent coping with disappointment in kids, parenting adult children, Parents and teens, repaired relationship, sadness at the holidays, Troubled teens, worried parents | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

It’s Amazon Ad Day

Posted by Marcia on November 28, 2011

Hi, Readers.

I am an Amazon Affiliate and have a post with links to Amazon on one of my other sites. Because I cannot upload Amazon sale images here, if you’re interested, please visit my other site,, and click on the blog link.

Thank you for your support.


Posted in Troubled teens | Leave a Comment »

Forwarding: Casting for a New Series for a Major Cable Network

Posted by Marcia on October 2, 2011

I received the following flier and promised to pass it forward.

Do you suspect your teen is going down the wrong path and engaging in
life-threatening activities, i.e drinking, doing drugs or engaging in
promiscuous behavior?

Is your teen failing all of their classes and busy hanging out with the
wrong crowd?

Do you know if your teen is bullying or being extremely aggressive at

If you are at a loss of what to do with your out-of-control teen and would
like to get some assistance, we can help.

A Major Cable Network is currently looking for families and their teens
(ages 13-19) for a groundbreaking new series. We will be providing you
with a team trained in helping your teen get back on the right track.
Please send us an email sharing your story.

Email us at

Also, please attach a current family photo and include: Names, Ages, and
the best phone number to reach you. Thank you for your time.

Posted in Troubled teens | Leave a Comment »

Guest Blogger Faith Blitman: Help, My Child May Be Chemically Dependent: What Should I Do?

Posted by Marcia on August 9, 2011

Please note I am now primarily posting at Strained Relations: Parenting Troubled Teens. You’ll find all of the content you have sought on this blog. Please follow me over there.

Thank you,



Faith Blitman, M.A. is a Psychotherapist and Certified Drug and Alcohol Assessor in Philadelphia, PA.  She provides individual, group and family counseling as well as drug and alcohol assessment and counseling.  You can reach her at

Despite warnings children may experiment with drugs for a multitude of reasons:  curiosity, peer pressure, to escape anxiety and depression or simply to feel good.  Some children who experiment with drugs ultimately become addicts, while others do not.   While genetics play a role in addiction, there is no fail-proof, early warning system to alert the child who is using, that due to his or her unique vulnerabilities or proclivities, addiction may be imminent.   The process of addiction is an insidious one – many who experiment do so to temporarily forget their problems but as the addiction gains momentum, it inevitably wreaks havoc on every facet of the user’s life.   It also tends to wreak as great or greater havoc on parents’ lives who helplessly and painfully witness the loss of their child to drugs and alcohol.  The bitter irony is that the addiction itself becomes far more deleterious and pervasive than the original problem which motivated the child to use drugs in the first place.

Drug addiction can be psychological, physical or both.   Many recreational drugs attach to the same receptors as brain chemicals and act as disinhibitory agents.   Normal behavioral control is undermined and suspended, accounting for many of your child’s mood and behavior changes.  Drugs often hijack the brain (most notably, the prefrontal cortex), typically resulting in a severely comprised ability to carry out important survival skills such as planning, exercising sound judgment and resisting temptation.

As a concerned parent, it is helpful to be aware of the signs and symptoms which are frequently associated with drug abuse . . .

Changes in Mood and Behavior including:  mood swings, e.g. depression, mania, anxiety, isolation, paranoia,  increased or inappropriate anger, relationship changes, increased secretiveness or lying,  changes in sleeping patterns (up all night or sleeping excessively), changing friends

Problems in School or Work i.e. increased absenteeism, problems getting along with others, drop in grades or productivity, loss of interest in (class) work or extracurricular activities

Problems in the Home or Community – be aware of dwindling or missing prescriptions,  alcohol, money, jewelry and other valuables,  the presence of rolling papers, pipes, bongs, or needles, pills, powders and other unknown substances, car accidents, fights, legal problems

Traumatic Events – for example, a loss of a significant person through death, divorce, etc. , a history of sexual, emotional or physical abuse, witnessing a horrific event such as a murder, domestic abuse, etc., military combat (PTSD) can lead to using

Changes in Personal Appearance including glassy eyes, unkempt appearance,
changes in grooming, significant loss or gain in weight

Assuming your child is exhibiting at least some of these indicators, what should you as a concerned parent do?

1)  Approach your child with a caring and calm attitude.  Your child’s life may well feel out of control to him or her so it is important for you to stay in control for the both of you.  Do not confront until you feel calm.  (Should you experience guilt, remind yourself it was your child’s decision to use, not yours.)

2)   Confront your child with whatever evidence or suspicions you may have.   Let him or her know that you are there to offer your love, support and help.   Avoid giving the third degree or lecturing; your role is to build a climate of safety and caring, thus assisting your child to admit and share concerns about drug use.

3)  Set firm and reasonable boundaries.  Clearly delineate which behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable and inform your child of the consequences (both positive and negative), of their behavior.  Consistency in following through provides clarity and stability for you and your child.

4)  Denial is a major component of addiction.  If you’ve confronted your child and he or she denies having a problem, a well-planned intervention which includes his or her friends, family and professionals may be advisable.

5)  Seek professional assistance.  Chemical dependency does not occur in a vacuum and affects the entire family.  A skillful therapist can objectively assess your situation to determine which type and level of treatment is best suited to the needs of your child (in addition to your child attending Narcotics Anonymous and/or Alcoholics Anonymous).  Moreover, a therapist can assist family members in establishing appropriate boundaries, by teaching effective coping skills and helping to identify and modify maladaptive patterns of thinking and behaving.

6)  Self-care is critical.  In addition to therapy, spending time with friends or developing a supportive network is essential to your well-being.  Many parents who have a chemically dependent child also reap tremendous benefits by participating in their own 12-step programs such as Nar-Anon (for friends and family concerned about a loved one’s drug addiction) ,  Al-Anon (for friends and family concerned about a loved one’s drinking), and CoDA (Co-dependents Anonymous to help establish healthier relationships).   Pursue hobbies, exercise, take classes and live your life.  You will inevitably feel better and also be an even healthier role model for your child.  In life, we cannot control other people, but we do control who we are and who we are can flourish despite adversity.

Posted in Troubled teens | Leave a Comment »

%d bloggers like this: