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.