DEAR COACH RICHIE: I am so angry that I’m struggling to make a decision as to what to do. I fear my child is headed for trouble. I have just found nearly 400 dollars in my 16 yrs old son’s bedroom. I have noticed some changes in his behavior over the last few weeks. Hanging around with a bad crowd, coming home in the early hours of the morning when he’s supposed to be in at 9:00 pm, drinking and drugs etc! I confronted him last week with a youth a counselor and the police and hoped we’d made him think about his choices. This week he’s come home on time but is avoiding me. So what do I do now??
COACH RICHIE: Yes, it is so frustrating as a parent to see our children go down a different path that we expected. When we believe our child is headed for trouble it awakens a fear and anxiety in us that is unbearable. We expected that our children would be a certain way and we would parent a certain way. But here we are. Our expectations have been crushed and our child has taken a different path. The first thing we need to do is realize and accept that we can’t be that parent that we thought we were going to be no more than our child can be the child we envisioned them to be.
When teens take a turn down the wrong path in life it typically involves a disconnection from their parent, challenges with friends or some type of issues in the home. When they don’t feel connected they go outside of our parenting sphere of influence to that Teen Tribe. Where the motto is big trouble. In that tribe they have to fit in, which means drugs, hating their parents cutting school and so on. If they don’t conform to the tribes mentality then they will voted out. Which is the worst thing that can happen to a teenager. Not being wanted and not fitting in.
When you say you spoke and confronted him what tone of voice did you have? Typically when we confront our children that are not behaving as we expected we lash out at them in the heat of the moment. We are emotional based creatures and when we come from a place of emotion, especially fear they can feel that and they want to run as far as they can from it.
So what can you do. #1 think of 3 things you know he is thinking about you and his home life. #2 find sometime to have a conversation with him (not in the home, that is not neutral territory) grab lunch, discuss on a car ride etc. #3 when you are alone with him. Tell him you are bad parent. Yes….it works almost every time. Say something to the effect. using the 3 things that you know he is thinking about you. “I know you are angry, frustrated (fill in emotion) because I don’t understand, listen, see (Whatever he is thinking of you). #4 Then say “Is this true”. He will either say yes or really tell you what is going on. Give hims some space to let him think about it. This will hit him from nowhere and it will get him to go to his logical human brain instead of the reptile brain where teens can’t reason or be logical. When he finishes. #5 Say “how hard does it get for you when I don’t listen, see, yell, (Whatever you are doing wrong again). Then give him more space to answer you. Dead silence and eyes at the ceiling are a sign that it is working. #6 then say I want to be a better parent to you so can you give me some advice on what I can do so you don’t feel as though I am failing you which is making you angry, etc.
Then if the starts align he will tell you what he needs to have happen. Please do all this without denying, judging, rescuing, fixing or lecturing him. Our job in this stage is to listen with our ears and acknowledge the challenges that they are going through. This is the start of reconnecting with a teenager. Once you have broke through the mask of anger they will be comfortable showing their true feelings which they are not allowed to show with that teen tribe. Hope this helps and you got this all day mom. We can love them or control them but we can’t do both because they are on their own journey in life and we are merely passengers along for the ride to love, guide, support and mentor them and hopefully keep them on the road. They are in the drivers seat and we just need to accept that fact and take some pressure off ourselves. Hope you find something here that helps.
All my love and support on your journey in life.
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