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Help, I’m Losing My Teen

Each week I participate in a parenting podcast where parents submit questions.  There is one topic my co-host and I get week after week: “Help, I’m losing my teen.”  To give you an idea, here is a question I received last week:

“Help! I feel like I’m losing my 17 yr old son to rebellion…I’ve read the comments regarding getting teens to be responsible and pay for different things like cars, phones etc..and I’ve tried to impose rules requiring a good balance between responsibility and privilege but my lazy 17 yr old son only wants things his way. I’ve been battling with him for months about getting a job and pulling his own weight around the house. He just got a 29 ACT score so he’s very smart but not acting like it. I think he would rather play in his band than go to college. He will not do chores around the house, except to do his own laundry. He sits around playing X-box and drums. This past weekend I was so totally fed up that I took the car away, and canceled the xbox subscription. He got mad of course, called me horrible names and spent the weekend at a friends house. It seems that the more rules I impose on my son the more I push him away. I don’t know what to do anymore. If I give in he doesn’t learn anything. any advice”

Teen rebellion, or teens out of control, is a big issue. Many parents live in homes that have become battlefields between the parent and their teenager.  This problem is not isolated to a few families, and it is happening in far too many homes. There are many programs set up that prey on parents who are struggling and need help, and in desperation, many parents turn to the wrong sources for help. There are wilderness survival programs where teens are taken against their will and, through basic survival skills, are taught to behave. There are schools or academies where teens must learn appropriate behavior before they are allowed to leave. 

I am not a fan of these programs because they are very costly and too many parents believe that the end result will automatically fix their child. If the goal of the parents is to have someone else fix the child, then they will fail no matter how much money they spend or how many programs they sign them up for. I believe the problem needs to be solved in the home with parents and child attending regular therapy sessions.  The key is a good therapist. If the therapist is not asking for change from both parent and child, find a new therapist.

Simple steps for improving teen behavior:

Parent needs to understand the teenage years and have patience with them as they learn. The teenage years are not only puzzling for you as a parent; they are very confusing for your child. Think of your teen as a child in an adult body.

The home cannot be run as a dictatorship.

Parents and teens should set the rules together and also agree upon discipline.

Positive talk about future plans. Make sure those plans are the child’s dreams, not yours.

Listen to your child.

What to do if you currently have a troubled teen:

Find a good therapist (you can contact me on my website—www.parentfix.com—and I can give you the name of a good therapist).

Be open to attending therapy with your child.

Listen to the therapist and realize something is wrong in your home.

Be open to change.

Make those changes.

Remember that the sooner you make changes, the sooner you will see improvement in your child.

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Hi, my name is Maggie I am the author of Parent Fix, a refreshing new look at parenting best-practices. I love children. Parentng my five children has been the greatest learning experience of my life. From my kids, I learned a lot about love, accepta… Read More


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