Some people search on my name because they have heard that I was the parent of a troubled teen. It’s true, I was. And like any parent (especially one of a “troubled teen)” I live in a glass house so consider me a perennial “non judger.”
If you happen upon this and need advice the best I can give you is to never give up on your child. Never.
My son experimented with drugs and alcohol starting in 9th grade. At first we chalked it up to “kids will be kids.” We punished him and thought we had nipped it. Then it happened again. We told ourselves that we too did it when we were young, now it’s his turn and we punished him again. As you can guess it happened again and again. And again. It’s hard to know when normal teenaged experimenting turns into a problem but if you are asking yourself the question my guess is that you already know the answer.
There is hope. There is always hope. What you do for your teen may be different from what we did with ours but never give up.
We chose to send our son to Liahona Academy, a therapeutic boarding school in Virgin Utah and it changed his life. He was gone for almost a year and it was the hardest year of my life but one of the most fruitful. I improved my relationship with my husband and my daughters while he was gone and we all repaired our relationship with him while he faced the demons of addiction.
He is now 20 and a junior at Hamline University. When he came home in the fall of his junior year of high school we were still very worried. I quit drinking and my husband never really drank much. We purged our house of all booze. We followed all their advice which included sending him to a different high school and we continued our therapy.
We also celebrated all of his success. We fought to allow him to play high school football and basketball. We celebrated each “re-birthday” and continue to this day to talk to him about his sobriety. He went to college and played 3 years of college football and are so proud of his continued sobriety.
We have talked to many other parents and kids and everyone has a different story. This is what worked for us, it might not be for you. But whatever you do, keep talking and keep trying. All of my posts about this topic are tagged under “parenting” and “troubled teens.”