When a parent begins to see changes in their adolescent, they may ask themselves if those changes are due to the negative influence of the peers, the media, or possible chemical imbalance. It may be difficult to really pinpoint where or why the changes have occurred, but it is obvious that their child has become a troubled teen.
Teenagers need to connect with a group and will sometimes compromise their own values and beliefs in order to be associated with friends. It is the most important thing in their life to belong. When they have begun to participate in destructive activity, they may then feel guilty and will begin the process of withdrawing from the family. They will find themselves doing whatever they need to do in order to maintain those relationships with their peers, even when they know in their hearts that it is not what they have been taught. They may begin to discontinue their interests in sports, clubs at school, or even church activities that were once important to them. At some point, their grades may begin to reflect a decline as well. They may begin to be truant or leaving the home without permission without warning or knowledge of where they are going, or who they are with. These troubled teens are on a road to destruction and do not know how to turn it around. They may feel that they are in too deep to withdraw and are fearful of being alone and without friends if they do retreat at this point. Remember, their friends are the most important thing in their life at this point, and they are willing to make personal sacrifices in order to maintain those relationships, even if they are not perfect. They are now hanging with a whole group of troubled teens.
As a parent, we want to rescue them, but often do not know how to do that. We search for answers through the church, the therapist, our family and friends, and much to dismay, come up empty handed. It is then that we must look at options for our troubled teen in order to get them back on the right track before it is too late. The earlier we can get help for our troubled teen, the better for them and the entire family. The consequences of delay may impact in such a way that we cannot bring them back safely without permanent scars. As painful as it may be to send our teen away from home to a residential boarding school, it may be the best thing that we can do to save their life. Parents have to consider the factors involved in placement for their child as well as what may happen if they don’t do something to turn things around for their child. They must realize that it is normally more than just a phase that they are going through. They are really having a difficult time with life and knowing what to do and what direction they want to go. They are slowly drowning, and someone has to throw them a lifeline!
Dr. Vista Waddle, therapist at Wolf Creek Academy says, “Parents cannot afford to wait on their troubled teen to figure out on their own how to make it through this dark tunnel. They must rescue them from the road of destruction before it is too late”.