Rebellion is often used as a synonym for the teen years. Sit coms (even those by Disney) often promote insubordination and defiance. A common plot centers around the teenager who outwits his parents or school authorities. Sit com parents who deny permission to go to a party often end up apologizing to the teen. With societal norms like that, it is difficult for real parents to even know how involved they have a right to be.
A troubled teenager’s life can spin out of control quickly. Parents have a responsibility to know when and how to intervene. You don’t send your son to boarding school because he forgot to make his bed but there are times when the parent of a troubled teen needs to take decisive, life-saving action.
As a parent you know the teen years are all about change. The difficulty comes when trying to distinguish the normal pushing of boundaries from shifts that signify your child is in trouble. You realize it is even different among siblings in the same family. So what does a parent do? How can you tell what to ignore and when you need to get help fast?
- Dramatic Changes – Teens like to try new styles if for no other reason than to prove that the people who say, “You look just like your dad” are wrong. A dramatic hair cut or color could be an experiment. Your teen may even realize the experiment was an epic failure although it is unrealistic to expect him to admit it. Distinguish between a bad attempt at a military look and a son who is trying to identify with skinheads. If the hairstyle signifies dangerous affiliations, it’s time for YOU to make some dramatic changes.
- Music—Listen to the words. If you can’t understand them, look them up online or ask your son to do it for you. There is no benefit to lyrics that promote drugs, gangs or suicide. You do not want your son to have those ideas circulating in his brain. It’s time to intervene.
- Changes in friends—Most kids do not keep the same friends from their first day of kindergarten to the last day of high school. It’s okay, even good, to develop new friendships. As a parent, you need to pay attention to the reasons behind the changes. Are you hearing or seeing signs that your son’s values have changed? Has he stopped doing activities you know he enjoys because he’s afraid the new friends will ridicule him? If so, you need to be more involved.
- Grades—Classes get harder in high school. Perhaps your teen was good at auditory learning but is struggling now that test scores depend on the ability to take good notes from the textbook. If that’s the case, get him a tutor or enroll him in an afterschool class that teaches him how to study. If his grades have plummeted because of habitually skipping school or refusing to study, you need to take action.
- Peer Influence–Unfortunately, during the teen years friends often have more influence over your children than you do. There are even educated professionals that mistakenly claim this is a good thing. The reality is that his friend is never going to love your son like you do. His friends are your business. Don’t be intimidated into butting out. If you don’t like one of his friends, identify what actions (his or your son’s) have led to your dislike.
- Lying – Lying is wrong. Insist, verbally and through your disciplined response to lying, that you and your teen have an honest relationship. Look for patterns. Does he lie to stay out of trouble or does he lie about everything—even things that are unimportant? Ignoring lies is cowardice in parenting. Do the hard thing—even when it means an uncomfortable confrontation.
- Disappearing drugs—Nothing justifies your teen taking drugs (over or under-the-counter) that are not his. Whether your troubled teenager is sharing them, selling them or taking the pills himself, make a call and get some help.
- Stealing–Is money disappearing around the house? This is often a sign someone is stealing to get money for drugs.
- Mood Swings and Anger—Mood swings and angry outbursts are often a sign of drug use. Whatever their source, they need to be investigated and remedied. If you are afraid of your troubled teen, it is time to take swift action.
So then what can you do with a troubled teenager?
Although society likes to blame the parents lack of involvement, that’s not usually accurate. Most of the time parents are very aware there is a problem—a serious one. They just don’t know what to do about it.
Nothing is more frustrating, even agonizing for a parent than being unable to find help for a child in trouble. No matter what the teen has done, even if you don’t like his actions or his current personality, you still love your child. Parents often try stricter discipline, tough love, counseling, various medicines, mental health facilities, law-enforcement, or all of these but the teen’s behavior doesn’t change. It feels to the parents like there is nowhere to go for help.
That’s where Gateway Academy for Troubled Boys comes in.
Why Gateway Academy for Troubled Boys?
Gateway Academy for Troubled Boys offers several advantages.
- Change forces change. Taking a troubled teen away from his current home and school forces him to adjust to a new environment. He has to change because the old things and people he was rebelling against are no longer there. Any change, even rebelling against a new person, requires thinking. He no longer has the option of blindly continuing the same behavior patterns. He has to think.
- He will earn high school credits. He doesn’t have a choice. He can’t skip classes. The teachers are not going to ignore him. Sooner or later he will get tired of sitting at a desk for eight hours and doing absolutely nothing. We have NEVER had one student complete the program without earning significant credits. Many earn their high school diploma.
- We can offer a level of consistency that is simply not possible in a home setting. Parents have to go to work. They must respond to the needs of their other children. At the end of a traditional school day the teacher goes home whether the student has learned anything or not. That’s not the case at Gateway Academy for Troubled Boys. We have the staff necessary to provide day-by-day, hour-by-hour consistency.
- We can keep your son safe. Parents are often afraid of what will happen to their son-gone-wild. He won’t enjoy every minute here but he will be safe. And chances are others will be safer as well.
- We are very good at what we do. Parents often ask if we will be able to “handle” their son. The answer is yes. None of the boys are here because they skipped Sunday School in favor of fishing. Every boy who enters our program has his own challenges. We’ve been doing this a long time. We’ve seen a lot of boys come through our program. We know what to do.
If your son is a troubled teen showing dangerous signs, call us at 850-547-9011. We are here to help.