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The Importance of Helping your Child/Teen

The decision to seek help for your child can be difficult and painful. You may know that your child has a problem with emotions or behavior. However, many parents refuse to look honestly at what their child is doing. They minimize their teen's behavior or deny that there is a problem.

These parents may be making excuses for their child and blaming others -- the school, teachers, family, friends, or society. They may be covering up for their child, lying for their child, and "fixing" any problems the child is in.

They may be giving in to their child's demands and compromising their own values just to keep the peace.

They may feel that their teen's rebelliousness is just a normal part of adolescence.

As their child's behavior continues to spiral downward, there will come a time when they realize that their child's behavior is not getting better. Hopefully, the decision on how best to intervene will still be in the hands of the parents and not with the juvenile justice system. Hopefully, the child will have not taken self-destruction to the extreme.

Even when parents know they must do something to save their teen's life, it is difficult. Parents and other family members often do not agree on what is best to do. Siblings, affected by the tension-filled home, may become withdrawn or also act out, and parents feel torn in all directions.

Sometimes there are guilty feelings for family situations, such as separation, divorce, or past family issues.

Parents may also feel isolated, without support from friends or family, and think they have the only family whose child is making poor and life-threatening decisions. It is difficult and lonely to parent an angry and manipulative child. Family and friends do not seem to understand this, and parents often conceal the extent of their problems from others.

Even when parents attempt to connect with their child through open and honest communication, the child shuts them out.

There may have been meetings with the child's teachers and other educational professionals. There may have been consultations with doctors, ministers or rabbis, or other respected adults, but their counsel brought no resolve. Parents may have taken their child for psychiatric evaluation or for counseling and therapy, but the child would not cooperate and resisted this help.

The situation may seem hopeless but we want you to know that you can help your teen and heal your family.

The first step is to take an honest look at your child's behavior. Then, listen to professionals who have experience working with youth, become informed of your child's issues, be involved by following through on professional advice and treatment plans, and build a support system from family, friends, and self-help groups.