If you are a parent of a teenager then you are intimately familiar with feeling stuck.
There are many potential roadblocks in the obstacle course that is raising teenagers. This leads to many frustrating feelings and difficult questions. How did we get here and what in the world do we do next?
Here are some ideas to consider for you and your family this week.
1. Identify the relationship problem(s)
In my experience, the problems in a family are rarely the result of just one person. It is never just “my crazy Mom” as the teenager might say or just “my stubborn teenager” as a parent might say. Instead of putting blame on one person, it is important to identify where the main relationship struggles are, i.e. my marriage is good, but my relationship with my son is really falling apart.
Often times there are multiple relationships that need work. It is always a good idea to make the problem the problem and move away from thinking someone else is to blame.
2. Connect with your trusted friends/family for good advice
Long before psychotherapy was invented, people received help and healing from many sources. This would include extended family members, close friends, community elders, tribe leaders, pastors, priests and other spiritual leaders. You get the idea. Reach out to people in your support community who will listen and be helpful to you. Of course, this can be done in person and also online via email, texting & Facebook.
3. Gather your family to discuss and problem solve the issues
If you know me at all, you know that I am a fan of family meetings. Having regular family meetings has been one of the best changes I have made in my family in the last year. Even if you don’t have this habit it can be effective to plan a family summit ahead of time.
Of course, you have to be thoughtful and strategic about this. No one wants to attend a “meeting” that is going to be unproductive and end in a bunch of finger pointing. However, if you can facilitate a conversation that helps your family to creatively problem solve you will be in a much better place.
4. Find a helpful book that speaks directly to your family challenges
I will be the first to admit that parenting books are not always helpful. There are so many to choose from and often they have conflicting advice. However, if you can find a book that speaks specifically to the challenges your family is having it can make a huge impact.
For example this book might apply to you and your teenager – Overcoming Teen Depression: A Guide for Parents. Amazon.com is your friend. Feel free to ask me if I can recommend a book for your specific situation as well.
5. Get help from a neutral third party
Sometimes your best efforts do not lead to getting your family unstuck. This can be a frustrating experience for sure. You have talked to your people, tried to apply the best advice and you are getting nowhere fast. You may need some focused support from a experienced counselor. It is a good idea to find a trained teen counselor who can also do family therapy.