Teenagers are caught in a world somewhere between child and adult, a place where experimentation is inevitable and in many ways normal, good, and healthy. Unfortunately, that experimentation can be dangerous, and when it involves alcohol or drugs it has the potential to move into ever higher levels of risk and addiction. Parents trying to adjust to their teen’s need for independence often make one of three classic mistakes: overlooking signs of a problem altogether, “clamping down” with excessive restrictions that can undermine the relationship and reinforce the problem, or encouraging abuse of substances by hosting “safe” drinking events.
As with other teen counseling topics presented on this website, we recognize many teens will only be in counseling because they are mandated by school authorities, parents or the court. Our skilled Professional Counselors work carefully with reluctant teens to build a rapport and trust essential to ultimate change.
However, if you are the parent of an older teen who refuses to attend counseling, you still have some options. We find many parents benefit greatly from even brief consultation on some common issues:
- Reducing emotional intensity and focusing on constructive communication
- Determining the difference between an experimentation phase and something more serious
- Finding clear and consistent limits you both agree on
- Finding ways to maintain relationship with your teen regardless of your teen’s choices
- Finding ways to keep other family members safe
- Learning to get a balance of self-care and enjoyment back in your life
Parents often lose sight of family strengths and options for support, as hope shrivels and frustration escalates. Professional counseling will help you navigate the tricky waters of holding your family together, reducing unproductive conflicts, and finding creative ways to maintain a good relationship with your teen. Speak with our client relationship coordinator about an initial assessment for your teen, for you as parent(s), or as a family.