Therapy and Counseling Center
for teens & adults in Newton, Sparta, Vernon
and Sussex County New Jersey
MA, LPC, NCC
973 . 632 . 6617
Give Me A Break
I once had the mother of a troubled adolescent say to me, "How come I never get a break? Other parents' kids run away once in a while, mine NEVER runs away."
While the above words may seem amusing, “give me a break” is the one phrase that cries out from parents of most troubled teens. Give me a break from the arguing, lying and manipulating; from poor grades, detentions, suspensions and calls from the vice principal's office. Give me a break from useless punishments for everything from smoking in the house to violating curfew to skipping school. Give me a break from endless promises that are broken as soon as they get what they want.
I could go on, but I will give you a break.
There are four basic suggestions I can offer parents of teens to help avoid ever needing to use that phrase. This is not an exhaustive list, just a place to start.
1. The first is not to ignore any obvious violation of family rules or values, even small ones. Don't overreact but don't ignore it. Minor violations should be pointed out quickly and quietly, occasionally with humor, and then dropped.
2. The second is to avoid the temptation to place blame or find fault. Arguing about blame/fault usually prevents getting at and dealing with the real reasons for the unwanted behavior.
3. Third, you want to establish your child's trust. Try to get your children to talk about their thoughts and feelings. Don't lecture, judge, or give unasked-for advice, just listen.
4. And last, if number three doesn't seem to be working, be patient and keep trying. Once trust is established you will be in a position to help your child work through his or her problems and, with hope, change those major problems to minor ones and give everyone a break.
See “Food, Clothing, Shelter and School” for more information on how to parent troubled teens.