Teens with addiction can drive you crazy but you are not alone. Here are some common paths to avoid for both you and your teen to thrive and be healthy.
Everyone loves their children and wants the best for them so it is understandable that when faced with a “problem teen,” parents often try everything under the sun to try and get that teen “back on track.” These attempts often include cycles of persuasion, negotiation, and confrontation, giving in, and giving up and yet often starting the cycle over again. Sometimes you may feel like you are a hamster running on a wheel, not getting anywhere.
One major comment that parents often make is that they no longer have the energy for confrontation. This is a step in the right direction as confrontation has been shown to have poor results. However, the mistake many parents make is when they choose to no longer confront the negative behaviours, they begin to enable them. Enabling is less successful than confrontation and perpetuates the behaviour.
A confrontation is a situation in which there is anger, perhaps yelling and there is often no compromise on either part.Confrontation is not a useful method of dealing with family members with addictions as it is likely to be met with resistance. Enabling on the other hand is giving in to the addict, which may be supporting the person monetarily or allowing the negative behaviours to continue without consequences. It is possible to be assertive without being aggressive.
What to Do
More positive ways of dealing with your teen are to impose restrictions, teens like children need rules imposed. These are not easy to do however, they are important to achieve results. Daily or weekly household chores are encouraged to demonstrate responsibility and working as a family unit. Don’t be afraid to make compromises try to work together to find out what is in both of your interests.
For example: You have a discussion and talk to your teen about their anger issues and tell them you would like them to see someone about it. Offer to go to family therapy if that would help them feel more comfortable. The teen will likely reject this idea however if it is something you feel strongly about insist on it as a condition of living in the house but suggest giving into something they care about.
If you talk you may discover that you want your teenage daughter to return to school and your teen wants to learn to play the guitar. A compromise may be that if she is attending school regularly for a month in good faith you will let her take lessons. “When you remove the troubled behaviours without providing healthy substitutes, the risk of returning to old patterns remains high.”(Prochaska, Norcross, & Diclemente) Remember this is also keeping your teen somewhere safe and productive rather than out on the streets or using. Always encourage productive and positive behaviours.
Why Do This?
Interacting with your teen in a positive way although difficult at times, shows your teen that you believe in their capabilities and keeping the lines of communication open even if they are strained is vital especially for some teens that may have shut out the rest of the world. It is likely that you are the main target for anger and negativity because you are the only one who is still there. And remember it is not an easy road, for anyone. You do not always have to like your child’s behaviour but let your teen know that you love them; a little love goes a long way.