18 and 19 year old teens can be the most difficult to address simply because they are considered adults and cannot be forced to get help.
As parents, we have limited to no control. Practicing “tough love” is easier said than done, many parents cannot let their child reach rock bottom – as parent’s, we see our child suffering – whether it is needing groceries or a roof over their head and it is hard to shut the door on them. In many situations, a young 18 year old is still in high school and you still feel responsible.
I think this is one of the most important reasons that if you are a parent of a 16-17 year old that is out of control, struggling, defiant, using drugs and alcohol, or other negative behavior – it is time to look for intervention NOW.
It may not be a residential therapy but at least start with local resources such as therapists that specialize with adolescents and hopefully offer support groups.
It’s unfortunate that in most cases the local therapy is very limited how it can help your teen. The one hour once a week or even twice, is usually not enough to make permanent changes. In many cases getting your defiant teen to attend sessions can sometimes cause more friction and frustrations than is already happening.
This might the time to consider outside help such as a Therapeutic Boarding School or Residential Treatment Center. However parents with the 18-19 year olds have usually missed their opportunity. They were hoping and praying that at 16 and 17 things would change, but unfortunately, the negative behavior usually escalates. Don’t get stuck in the blame game – move forward and try to go on to the next steps for young adults.
In the past 15 years I have heard from thousands of parents – most are hoping to get their child through high school and some will be satisfied with a GED. It is truly a sad society of today’s teens when many believe they can simply drop out of school.
Starting as early as 14 years old, many teens are thinking this way and we need to be sure they know the consequences of not getting an education. Education in today’s world should be our children’s priority (as weel as being kind and caring to others) however with today’s peer pressure and entitlement issues, it seems to have drifted from education to defiance (entitlement) – and not being responsible or accountable.
I think there are many parents that debate whether they should take that desperate measure of residential therapy, it’s a major emotional and financial decision – but in the long run – you need to look at these parents that have 18 and 19 year olds that don’t have that opportunity anymore, the choice will become more clear.
While you have this option, and it is a major decision that needs to be handled with the utmost reality of what will happen if things don’t change. The closer they are to 18 – the more serious issues can become legally. If a 17+ year old gets in trouble with the law, in many states they will be tried as an adult. This can be scary since most of these kids are good kids making very bad choices and don’t deserve to get caught up the system. As a parent I believe it is our responsible not to be selfish and be open to sending the outside of the home.
It is important not to view this as a failure as a parent, but as a responsible parent that is willing to sacrifice your personal feelings to get your child the help they need. Keep in mind – this is a very short part of their life that will give them many years of a healthy one.
There are young adults at that are willing to get help or will attend life skills programs when the parents will give them no other options. Especially if they are facing trouble with the law or homelessness.
If you are interested in young adult programs, please contact us for more information.