Not too long ago, there was news circulating in the neighborhood about a family wherein a 15-year-old girl kicked her mother in the stomach after getting scolded for talking back so much. As if that was not enough, the teenager proceeded to call the police, claiming that the mom was “beating her up.” There were no bruises at all, though, and even her other sisters attested that physical abuse did not happen anytime in their house. When the officers understood that the 15-year-old was undergoing psychological counseling for a mood disorder, they suggested to let the child spend the night at a close relative’s house to let everyone cool down.
That little stint of the troubled teenager might make her apologetic, but it could have traumatized her siblings already. After all, what kid wants to be questioned by the police in the middle of the night at home? Aside from that, the stress she subjected her mother too and the fact that she called the cops on her was quite hard to forgive. Linda Esposito, LCSW says “Once you redefine the meaning of discipline as a trait of being well-behaved and a tool to develop self-control, the concept becomes more neutral, and less personal.” If you have been doing everything for your children, and that’s what you get in return, anger and resignation might rein in your heart as well.
Nevertheless, considering you are a parent who faces the same issue and you still want to give your troubled kid another chance, there are ways to keep your family intact.
1. Get Psychotherapy Together
The first thing that should be on your agenda is to look for a family counselor. It is not only one child who has mental health issues anymore because of the incident. The other two kids who witnessed what happened may be suffering from trauma too, although it may not be apparent. You perhaps need therapy as well to be able to process the emotions that you cannot express towards your teenager. “Ideally, your teen needs to be part of this process, even when you are the one insisting they participate in therapy,” says Kathryn Rudlin, LCSW.
When you get family counseling, the therapist will be meeting you as a group. The problem of every person becomes known and solved by all. There will no longer be hidden thoughts or feelings, which tend to expand the rifts between family members. This form of therapy is beneficial regardless of the kids’ ages.
2. Enforce Stricter Rules At Home
The truth about teenagers who can do something as terrible as making false claims about their parent(s) is that they do neither fear nor respect the person they’re putting in jeopardy. There is only a fine line separating the two emotions, you see. If you have high regard for your mom and dad, you will be afraid to do anything that will hurt them deeply. However, the fact that the kid mentioned above can call the police and accuse her of physical abuse entails that the teen may not feel either at all. Dr. Clayton Lessor, Licensed Professional Counselor once said, “the best way to deal with teenage rebellion is (employing) natural consequences.”
What the child probably needs at this point, though, is to see you enforce stricter rules. You may have been a little lax in the recent years in that department, thinking that it may be best to let your kids figure things out on their own. It is obvious now that it isn’t helpful for the entire family; that’s why you should not hesitate to say what they can or cannot do. For instance, the use of computers and other gadgets should only be allowed during school week for studying. This was also cited one of the articles in FamilyHype. They have to home at a specific time too or follow a bedtime schedule. Otherwise, there’s a punishment in store for every rule broken.
3. Try New Activities As A Family
When you ask a teenager with mood disorder about the family, it is not surprising to hear nothing but complaints. “My sister always gets our parents’ attention.” “I hate my mom for getting me this thing instead of what I want.” “I don’t like how noisy it gets at home.”
All these words practically mean that the child does not have a lot of great memories with their parents or siblings. They get reminded of the same things, which may be painful for them. Hence, as a part of therapy as well, you should think of new activities that you can try as a family. Say, go snorkeling or rock climbing together. You can also ask the kids what places each of them want to visit. This way, no one will feel left out.
4. Practice Open Communication
Lastly, it seems unrealistic to claim that conflicts between siblings or parents and children will never occur. Your views as an adult may not always be agreeable for the kids, especially if they are teenagers who are starting to know what they want. Despite that, instead of staying quiet about your emotions, you should encourage everyone at home to speak up about whatever they feel about someone or something.
Opening the communication lines is vital to prevent bottled up emotions from exploding on your faces later. The stress that comes from being unable to voice out real feelings can cause an individual to develop a mental disorder as well. Hence, it matters to let the children know that you will listen if they wish to talk.
It will never be too late to repair the wounds caused by the drastic action(s) taken by your troubled kid. You may be as hurt as the teenager feels right now, and that’s understandable. However, it remains as your obligation to help them get better, so that’s what you should do.
Follow the tips above to get started. Good luck!