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Parenting a Troubled Teenager

Help for Parents of a Troubled Teen

“Before I got married I had six theories about raising children; now, I have six children and no theories.” – John Wilmot

Parenting a troubled teenager, or a troubled youth at any age has its difficulties. Whether it’s the temper tantrums of a 2-year-old or the attitude of a teen, kids have been known to test their parent’s patience and limits since the beginning of time (The above quote is from a guy who lived in the 1600’s…clearly some things never change!). But when a parent is raising a troubled teen facing violence, depression, substance abuse, drug use, or other issues the task can seem downright impossible. The endless fights, reckless behavior with no fear of consequences, nights lying awake worrying, fear of what your teen may do to themselves or your family, all take a serious toll on parents and families.

If you are a parent in this situation, know that you are not alone. There are literally millions of other parents fighting similar battles for and with their teen. If you believe that your teen may have crossed the line from normal teenage behavior over to “troubled teen” behavior, here is some advice the team at Crosswinds has found to be effective as we work to restore family relationships.

Parenting struggles never seem to end, but you don’t need to solve them alone!

  • Do not fight the battle alone: Parenting a troubled teen often comes with a level of embarrassment. Questions like “What did we do wrong?” and “What will people think of our family?” often act as roadblocks to parents seeking help from friends, family, and professionals. Do not suffer in silence. Every parent has made mistakes, and even teens from loving, supportive families can end up on the wrong path. So call that trusted family friend, pastor, or helpline and ask for support and guidance. We bet you’ll be surprised at how willing people are to help when you ask for it.


  • Take care of yourself: The anxiety and frustration caused by a defiant teen can turn even the best parent into a nervous wreck. Find a friend, family member, or camp where you know your teen will be safe. Taking a short and temporary break from the stress and pain is healthy for your marriage, your faith, and your other children, and does not mean you love your teen any less.


  • Don’t ignore warning signs: If you are in the beginning stages of parenting a troubled teen, don’t ignore the warning signs. Getting help sooner rather than later will save a lot of heartache and pain in the long run. Not every teen will just “grow out of” rebellious behavior, and once they are an adult you may no longer have the option to get them the help they need.


  • Never give up: Even if every method of intervention fails, do not give up hope for their restoration. Nothing in or out of this world can separate your child from the love of God. Even in the hardest times, try to maintain this same attitude towards your teen—that NOTHING they can do will separate them from your love, or from the love of their Heavenly Father.


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