Empowering Parents of Troubled Teens

In this section of the website we want to give you some of the tools that Dr. Y gives to empower parents in his private practice. Whereas "Parenting Basics" was essentially, parenting skills 101, this section connects you to Parenting Skills 102.

Horse Tips: When you lose, don't lose the lesson.--Quotes from Aspen Ranch, Horse Sense and Cowboy Wisdom. 2000. Loa, Utah.

Let's be clear, these are not tools for power over your teen, but rather with your teen. While s/he may not agree with you at the time, you are in fact empowering the both of you.

Many of these tools require changes in your parenting style or even deeper changes in terms of your own issues. Dr. Y strongly encourages and emphasizes to his teen parents that they be in therapy at the same time as their teen. Usually, empowering parents means that they need to work on both their parenting style and issues. Often these issues are couple or family issues. They are relationship issues. 

With that in mind, here is an overview of what is covered under each topic...

Co-Dependency

Here is a biggie, Co-Dependency. This is about healthy relationships. Here we will talk about what is often referred to as the Victim Triangle. The three players in this relationship drama are the Rescuer, the  Persecutor, and the Victim.

I once had an insightful mother walk into our first family session. When she spied my Victim Triangle poster on the wall, she said, "Ahh, our family portrait." I knew we could work together. Many conflicted families have this as their "family portrait" but don't realize it.

Personal Boundaries

Closely related to the Victim Triangle and co-dependent relationships are what are called "Personal Boundaries." Emotionally healthy families reflect healthy personal boundaries.

Choices and Consequences

We talk about choices and consequences. This is taken from Reality Therapy. All choices have consequences, and it is important for your teen to learn this. Here we talk about the importance of holding your teen accountable. We also discuss the importance of following through on consequences. 

Overindulgence

Overindulgence is another biggie. In today's material oriented culture and society, many parents overindulge or spoil their teens. In place of time and love, we give them things, fail to set and maintain age appropriate boundaries and responsibilities, or try to over protect them from negative feelings and consequences. We may buy them things because we feel inadequate as parents, or so they can keep up with the other children at school. Parents can do this whether rich or poor. Do you over indulge your teen? Is s/he a spoiled brat?

Privileges versus Necessities

It is important you as a parent get clear about what is a necessity versus what is a privilege for your teen--and maybe for yourself too. Make a list. Necessities are what you have to provide for your teen. Privileges are everything else. Privileges are what they loose when they make the wrong choices in their life.

Entitlement

Entitlement follows from over indulgence. Does your teen feel s/he is entitled for you to indulge his/her every whelm, or almost? This is where chores and allowance or working to earn something s/he wants is a powerful tool. Yep, I mean actually having to earn it. This is a chance for valuable life lessons.

Upping the Ante

If your teen challenges you by increasing his/her misbehavior level, e.g. level of defiance, you must be ready to up the "ante". You must be willing to increase the cost to him/her for escalating. Are you prepared to do that?

The Blow-out teen

Some parents cringe at confronting their teen, especially in sensitive area of conflict. When confronted or you try to discipline them, they go into a rage, have a melt-down, or blow-out. How do you handle these situations?

Feelings

OK, here is a tough one for many people: identifying and verbalizing your feelings. Parents need to be able to do this so that they can role model for their teens how to do it. Can you get in touch with your feelings and identify them? Men, in our culture, are told to shove down and ignore their feelings. We are told as children sometimes not to feel, and we often carry this into adulthood and parenthood.

Communication: I feel statements

Learning to use "I feel" statements with your teen and s/he with you can be very important tools for communicating with each other. An extension of this is to realize what these feelings are tied to in your own childhood.

The Behavioral Contract

In this section we discuss how to develop a behavioral contract with your teen. This contract spells out the expectations you have for your teens behaviors, consequences if those expectations are not met, and your expectations of yourself in regard to your teen. Putting it on paper keeps everyone clear about what is expected and the consequences.

Where do you go from here?

Self-Help, Therapy, or Programs. This website is geared toward self-help for your empowerment. At the same time it encourages you to participate in therapy. At what point is it time to up the ante? When these are not working. This is where programs come into the picture.

Index to Empowering Parents

Co-Dependency
Personal Boundaries
Choices and Consequences
Over Indulging
Overindulgence
Privileges versus Necessities
Entitlement
Upping the Ante
The Blow-out teen
Feelings
Communication: I feel statements
The Behavioral Contract
Where do you go from here?