Troubled Teen or Content TeenagerIt’s not easy being a teen.  We all remember the difficulties of growing up, especially when confronted with peer pressure, drug use, dating, bullying and the like. With all these challenges, teens fortunate enough to have parents there supporting, listening and understanding them were greatly helped in getting through these difficult times.

If you are the parent of a troubled teen, then addressing the situation without causing more damage may seem like an impossible task.  But the truth is that parenting difficult teenagers is usually as difficult as not understanding and exercising the options that you have as a parent. This doesn’t mean that you’ll have all the answers and solve all the problems, far from it.  But it does mean that as a parent you can use options to help turn your child from a troubled teen into one more contented and able to handle the pressures that they face.

Set Clear Boundaries

Be upfront about what they can and cannot do and what you will do if you find out that they are breaking the rules.  The rules you set need to be clear, unambiguous and reasonable.  Plus, you need to remind them of these rules on a regular basis.  Remember you childhood and how forgetful you were, the same is true for your kids.

Listen Attentively

This is the most important skill of parenting a troubled teen.  It’s not just listening to what they are saying, but to the non-verbal ways they are communicating.  Teens don’t have the emotional maturity to express all of what they feel, but their body language can be a strong indicator of the emotional turmoil that they are currently going through.

Dealing with Depression

There are strong signs apparent when a teen is clinically depressed.  In these situations you need to act quickly and decisively to stop the depression in its tracks before the situation becomes worse.  Signs of depression include:

  • Prolonged sadness
  • Irritability
  • Sleeplessness
  • A significant, sudden change in their weight
  • Thoughts or tendencies towards suicide

Any one of these signs should be cause for alarm and you must get professional help for your teen. A big part of parenting difficult teenagers is identifying when the situation has gone beyond your ability to correct the situation.  The decision to act is one of the most difficult for parents to make since it makes you feel inadequate and powerless.  The guilt you carry in the belief that it’s all your fault must be disposed of in favor of getting your child the help they need.

Remember that you are their parent, not their friend. This advice is not to push your child away, but to help you understand the role of what a parenting difficult teenagers is suppose to be. You want your children prepared for what the world is going to offer them as adults. The better parent you are, the better your children will become. The bonds you share with your child go well beyond friendship, so your focus should be on raising them so that they can develop the emotional maturity needed to handle the challenges of being an adult.


Presidental Campaign Lessons on Parenting Troubled TeensThe current series of presidential debates have not only captured the attention of tens of millions of Americans, they also have shed an important light on how responsible people deal with each other when they have disagreements – including parents of difficult teenagers.  While some may argue that the presidential etiquette has eroded, the truth is that when compared to many of the confrontations parents have with their troubled teens,these debates seem quite tame indeed.

Parenting difficult teenagers is a challenge unto itself, but many parents exacerbate the problem when confronting their troubled teens by letting their emotions get the better of them.  What follows are a few lessons that the presidential debates demonstrate that parents of troubled teens can use to help avoid a needless confrontation that leads to disastrous results.

Be Clear

You may have watched the debates and observed that their answers or unclear and do not answer the questions asked.  The points each candidate may have actually made you more confused about the subject and your opinion of them dropped.

Don’t make this mistake with your teen.  Parenting difficult teenagers is not easy task, but it greatly helps when you are clear and consistent when talking to them.  Setting rules and explaining your actions should be simple and straightforward.  You can add clarity by asking your teen if they have any questions about what your discussion and always ask what was understood.  Remember when speaking to your troubled teens, be clear, direct and to the point.  You may also want to consider how your nonverbal behavior communicates just as much as your words – after all, actions do speak louder than words.

Always Tell the Truth

You may have also noticed after the presidential debates that the next morning the media runs “fact checks” to verify the statements of each candidate.  Those candidates that don’t tell the truth are often penalized negatively by the press for making up stories or outright lying.

Lying to your children, especially to troubled teens is never a good thing.  You should always strive to tell the truth because it is the foundation of trust.  Plus, it’s pretty difficult to keep a lie straight over time.  Once the story inevitably changes your children know that you lied to them.  Telling the truth helps keep you consistent with your troubled teens.

It’s Okay to Agree to Disagree

During the debates when the presidential candidates reach an impasse, you have seen them agree to disagree.  This is a way to both acknowledge the position of the other candidate and to end the discussion without breaking into an argument.

Agreeing to disagree can help you when parenting difficult teenagers as well.  Understanding you are going to see some things differently.  By acknowledging that you see things differently by agreeing to disagree, you show your teen respect for their point of view without caving or giving in to yours.  In addition, it can short circuit a bigger argument from happening.

As you can see, the presidential debates serve as a strong reminder about how people can get along even with widely opposing viewpoints.  Applying this knowledge to your parenting can help you calm things down with your troubled teen.

Image By Fmcmahon93 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


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Positive Parenting for Troubled Teens

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