Support Groups for Parents of Troubled Teens


Support Groups for Parents of Troubled Teens is extremely valuable but hard to find. Most parents of troubled teens isolate from others because the issue is so hard and embarrassing. Unfortunately, even Christian parent's find it difficult to share their struggle with friends and family, especially friends from their church family. The best thing the parents of troubled teens could do for themselves is to join groups for support, but it is usually the last thing they do, at least during the midst of the hardest part of the crisis. The truth is that many parents of troubled teens eventually join some kind of group support. Many parent's of troubled teens who have survived "troubled teens" years start ministries to help other parent's, or they become parent coaches, or even sometimes they become educational consultants or therapists. Their experience is so amazing, coming through the pain and growing immensely, the parents learn to share with others in substantial ways, including leading support groups for parents of troubled teens. Why is support so important? Its all about understanding and wisdom. During the midst of the crisis with the struggling child the family is upside down, in turmoil, and in total disarray. If you are a parent of a struggling child you know exactly what I am referring to. But when you are in a supportive environment, with people who have experienced the same exact situation (trauma) you don't feel so all alone. And the truth is that you are not all alone, never have been. It only feels that way. Within the support group not only do you get to receive support (guidance, understanding, compassion, empathy) but you get to give it too. Giving support to others in the midst of your own battle is not only therapeutic but it also has enough depth to bring forth some very powerful healing experiences that cannot come unless you give out of your own pain. When someone gets a chance to be empathic and is able to give from their own pain (painful experience) they can finally connect deeply with their own deep down hurt. This process releases normal and natural healing systems of our pysche. During a recent marriage and parenting seminar sponsored by our church, several parents disclosed personal struggles they were having with their troubled teens. Some parents had troubled teens who dealt with depression. Others were battling with drugs abuse and other abusive behavior. Though these issues are not new to most parents (it seems that we all have experienced the troubled years of teens), they are new and terrifying for the parents who experience them for the first time. Parent support groups have great potential for helping parents of teens understand and identify with other parents who are struggling with similar issues. How can such groups benefit you, your community, or your church? Benefits of Parent Support Groups Parent's who struggle with a teenage son's or daughter's negative behavior often become frustrated and eventually distance themselves from their family and others, even those in their own peer group. Feelings of insecurity, abandonment, failure, and eventually isolation may also stem from the inability, for various reasons, to receive or give help to and from familymembers, or other normal support networks. Sharing your parenting struggles (the struggle itself) with a group that specifically addresses the real issues (as opposed to a traditional Sunday School class or group of friends) can help meet needs of a parent in pain. Again, giving to others in this same situation is very beneficial toward the overall healing process. You actually must have this "giving experience" or you are not healed. Youth ministry is a natural provider of support for parents. Reaching out through the use of Teen Parent Discovery Groups, as we call them, can meet the needs of these parents and enrich youth ministry as a whole in the following ways: Discovery groups bring an increasing sense of perspective in parenting teens. Parents often feel that today's teenage life is extremely different from their own teenage life. Though the technology and language may have changed, the issues are essentially the same. The clear perspective allows parents to move toward constructive alternatives in responding to negative behaviors. Discovery groups allow parents to explore the complexities of the teen world in the company of other parents. Parents can share insights about what they have learned about raising teens in a post-Christian society. What they discover about the teen world from other parents will better equip them in relating to their own children. Discovery groups allow parents to learn techniques that have been tried by other parents. The group members discussed what has worked for them in the past and why other things don't work at all. Creativity and past experiences of group members can give parent new direction in handling discipline, curfews, dating and other difficult issues. Discovery groups can provide much needed encouragement. Parent may not have an existing support system (extended family or spouse) to provide encouragement through tough times and cheer successes when they come. Without it, parent may give up altogether on the teen or may not recognize the success within the arguments that often come with being consistent with consequences for negative behavior. Discovery groups allow parent and the youth ministry ad a whole to reach out in ministering to other struggling parent. The group can be an open door for others in the community searching for parental support. Eventually, those people could become active in other areas of church life. The group can be a mechanism for reaching out to a population of pre-Christians who may not respond to other forms of evangelism.