How often have you heard the story? A teenager who was once loveable, happy, clean-cut, and an all-around decent student turns into a disrespectful, long-haired, pierced, defiant individual? There is no longer any respect for authority, including parents, teachers, and law enforcement. Sweatshirts are worn up around the head, eyes are red, and the favorite place to be at home is in his or her bedroom. You’ve convinced yourself to check the bedroom and look for signs of drug or alcohol usage, and found notes, lists, a pipe, empty beer or liquor bottles or some sort of paraphernalia used by the drug or alcohol addicts. You’ve confronted your child, who denies any involvement in anything you’re saying, even though the proof is right in front of him or her. You’ve spoken to teachers, the principal, law enforcement, to no avail. You’ve taken away privileges, but you’re sure your child just sneaks out of the house. Afterall, your child has been lying to you for quite some time. What are you to do?
You are absolutely correct that it is your business. This is your child. But what should you do? You’ve talked and talked; you’ve cried; you’ve begged and pleaded; you’ve punished, and there is absolutely no reaction from your child.
Take a step back to analyze what is happening. Some kids turn to drugs and alcohol simply to fit in. Others get in and find it hard to get out, the hardest part being separating from the others who have chosen that lifestyle for keeps. Some kids have been threatened with bodily harm or that to their family members if they don’t stay. This is criminal behavior. For teens, behaving badly can be exciting. Just the risk of getting drugs can be an exciting adventure for some. First and foremost, show your child love, no matter what. This is your child. Try to praise the little things that deserve praise. Compliment your child for great things, even if it’s just that he or she ate dinner with the rest of the family for once. Talk to him or her. Keep communicating. Don’t yell; just talk. Listen. Let your child tell you anything that’s going on, positive or negative. Ask your extended family for help. Maybe someone can do something with your child for an afternoon or a weekend. Anything that will get your child away from the negative group of kids. Talk to your child about household rules and maintain those rules. Let your child know what you are and are not willing to do if going to jail becomes a reality. If that happens, go with your child to court, even if you aren’t paying money towards his outrageous actions.
Last, find a good therapist who can help your teenager battle alcohol or drug abuse. Reach out and let the professionals at the Relationship Center of Orange County help you. Schedule your appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 393-8662, or text us.