There is no question that a child who is difficult, or a teenager who is defiant, has an effect on the entire family.
I am going to show you how it affected my family and what I believe are three ways to alleviate or resolve the problem. I’m not a therapist, but I am a mother of three sons, who has been through the teenage years, and still has one at home (until next week, when my sixteen-year-old leaves for NMMI. More on that in my next post on Monday August 2nd.)
When my oldest son turned thirteen, he started dating girls with their own set of problems. As a mother new to, and not happy with the idea of her son dating, I discovered that a girlfriend’s psychological problems, would become my own, or at least affect my family. This is what happened, and I never expected it.
- lacked parental supervision, guidance and support
- had the “rescue me mentality,”
- latched onto my son for attention.
I felt stuck in the middle, wondering if I should help the girlfriends, feel sorry for both of them that their divorced parents didn’t seem to care, or take care of my family. I wanted to do all three. I soon learned that taking care of my son, my relationship with my husband and my two younger sons, was the most important thing I could do.
After a couple of stressful years, feeling uncomfortable in my own house, I realized my husband and I were giving more attention to the problem child (something most parents do) while his brothers received leftover attention. My middle son, who thrived on a peaceful environment, spent more time at his friends’ house on weekends than at home, and our youngest spent more time playing video games.
There are many different ways to handle a problem child, or a defiant teenager and I’m sure a behavior therapist can help with each individual situation. There are of course varying degrees, depending on the child’s issues.
This is what worked for us:
- Talk with a therapist who specializes in child/teenager problems.
- Pull your child/teenager out of the environment/situation. Change schools in your neighborhood if necessary, pull the child away from the problem.
- Try to resolve the problem as a family. Make the child, teenager feel you love him enough to do whatever it takes and want him to be part of the family.
So how did we resolve our problems? In or case, after therapy and a tough love program with our son, we took a very unique approach: we moved the entire family to live a simple life in Belize, Central America. This decision was not just spontaneous, but based on our research, wanting to challenge our kids to grow by living a very different life than the easy, materialistic one they were familiar with. My husband and I also desired adventure and change.
I am always happy to listen to your stories, suggestions and comments.
Good tips. I do think that asking for professional help if you can't cope is something people should do earlier rather than later…
You gave some good advice here. I hope some parents with young kids will take it. Especially the part about removing your child from the situation. VERY important. Often kids are not strong enough to do this themselves and the parents have to step up. Even if they will be angry with the parents at first, they will thank them later.
I agree with you.
Too many girls are without good male role model > the father.
Parents should be adults and behave like that.
Kids are not toys. They have feelings and a future. They remember.
We all want to be loved.
Simple as that…
Yes, we reached a point where we needed the advice of a therapist specializing in teenage behavior.
Thanks for yourcomment. I didn't realize how important "taking your kid away" from a bad situation is.
I agree with you about parents needing to act like parents, even if their own life is difficult.
Hard work and gutsy moves, Sonia.
Thinking creatively in family; getting help when you need it; being ready to do "what it takes" to get life back on the tracks.
Your advice is good and it seems that you did many things right when confronted with a problem. You made the decision of being a parent instead of trying to be a friend.
Groovy Baby Blog says
Hi Sonia, Thank You so much for visiting Our blog, I hear Belize Is a beautiful place and I think you did the most awesome decision.
Mountain Thyme says
I am wondering, as you don't say in your post, did the move to Belize help solve the problem for your oldest child? How did the others in the family cope with such a drastic move?
We moved around so much when I had children and teenagers that I did consult experts about how to handle the moves with these children. It has been shown that male children do worse in these situations than females. All I know is that these moves did affect the personalities of both my children. And, I often wonder "who" they would be with deep "roots" somewhere.
You know it might be easier to do this when you've spent your life moving from one country to another.
I think you are so right. Kids still want parents to be parents.
Yes, there are parts of Belize, especially Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker that are stunning.
Yes, my oldest is a fine young man with a degree in engineering. It worked. I believe kids learn independence through travel and the more they see the world, the more they learn to think differently about day-to-day situations. Do you think your kids suffered from their moves? Also curious where you saw that male kids do worse?
Ballerina Girl says
Thanks for retelling your story…it is good to hear what problems/solutions different people find.
Phivos Nicolaides says
Sharon Colaco D'Souza says
Those are excellent tips! My daughter is a pre schooler and your post made me wonder – gosh! she's going to grow into a teenager..and then i will have to probably go through the most difficult phase of our lives:)