Healing a Relationship with a Troubled Teen
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Healing a Relationship with a Troubled Teen

In order for parents to enter into a positive, healing relationship with their troubled son or daughter they must first face two facts. One, \\\"Our child is troubled and we have contributed to his present condition.\\\" Two, \\\"All teenagers are troubled to some degree, some more than others.\\\"
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In order for parents to enter into a positive, healing relationship with their troubled son or daughter they must first face two facts. One, "Our child is troubled and we have contributed to his present condition." Two, "All teenagers are troubled to some degree, some more than others." Accepting these facts will give you a healthy perspective from which to initiate a new relationship. You are not accepting total responsibility for your child's troubles nor are you projecting total responsibility on your child. Together, you and your teenager must accept mutual ownership of the problems as well as the solutions which follow.

As parents, you need to make the first move be reaching out to your teen with unconditional love and acceptance. Demonstrate through your words and actions that "I love you and accept you as you are - period," not "I will love and accept you if you meet the following conditions."

                                    mother talking to daughter

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Nothing can substitute for an investment of your time in your child's life. Spend time with your teenager. It is popular today to say that it is not the quantity but the quality of time that is important. This may sound good but it's garbage. You cannot have a real quality relationship with anyone without investing a good quantity of time. This is especially true in the parent-child relationship. Don't give your teenager the scraps. Plan specific and special times to spend with your child.

Teenagers don't always need advice. Often they just need to be heard, to be listened to, to be understood. Listen to what is said, what is not said, and what is said between the lines. Demonstrate a genuine interest in trying to understand your teenager - his fears, desires, frustrations, needs, and interests.

Avoid talking "down" to your teen and don't substitute lecturing for talking. Recognize that your teenager is no longer a child, that he is growing and maturing, that he is capable of independent thinking and reasoning. You must adjust the way you communicate to your child as he grows older. What may have been appropriate a year or two ago might no longer apply.

Allow your teenager to express his own unique individuality and identity. Respect honest differences of opinion, preferences, and tastes. Don't insist that your teenager always give in or conform to your preferences in minor, inconsequential situations. This only produces needless and senseless arguments. Save confrontations for truly important issues, so your teenager will realize that you reserve your veto powers for matters of real significance. When you say no, you are not merely exercising your parental power or being unreasonably argumentative. Simply stated, don't major on the minors.

Be an adult. Don't try to relate to your teenager as "one of the gang." He doesn't need another buddy; he needs a parental role model. Set reasonable rules and guidelines. Teenagers expect and need this from their parents. But be prepared to answer the question, "Why?" Be firm; be fair.

Finally, be human. If you don't have an answer to your teen's question, admit it, but tell him you will help find the answer. Admit when you are wrong and ask forgiveness. Your child will respect you even more. Always encourage growth and independence, but never without support. Develop the habit of praying for your troubled teen, and soon you will see signs of change and growth in both of you.

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