How to Help Your Teenage Children in Times of Crisis
The pandemic caused both good and bad things to happen in people’s lives. Although it ultimately resulted in many families spending time together in ways they had not in many years, it also brought about a teen crisis for some.
For more than a year, teens were cut off from socializing at one of the key periods during their childhood development. This prompted rebellion or depression in some, development of addiction to drugs or alcohol in others. You can help your children recover from the side effects of the pandemic sequestration though through therapy or addiction treatment.
Tackling Behavioral and Mental Health Issues
It makes it easy to feel alone if your family has problems, with so many touchy-feely commercials on television showing happy families frolicking in the backyard or gathered around the dining room table playing a board game. Your family might resemble the Deal family of Georgia which had never experienced conflict issues until the pandemic. When mom, Tiffani, required her teen, Bo, to wear a mask in their rural town beginning in March 2020, he balked. Others in their small town did not mask. She also restricted him from attending social events before the rest of the country went into lockdown in an effort to keep their family healthy. Her teen resented being different from his still social friend and it hurt him to know he missed out on social events they attended.
Other teens developed more than a rebellious behavioral problem. For some, a lack of socialization removed the anxiety alleviating events and holidays they typically experience. They lost contact with friends their own age, an imperative thing to have for healthy development. Thrust into constant home life and lacking the coping skills of an adult, some teens developed depression. You can help your child with both problems and other mental health issues by sending them to a mental health therapist. You can set up Zoom meetings with a certified psychologist or psychiatrist. Your child will typically have many sessions alone, but you will also need to attend some family sessions.
It isn’t always as simple as out-patient treatment. You may need to investigate a dual-diagnosis center for your teen. About 50% of the children with mental illness also turn to drugs or alcohol in an effort to self-medicate.
The most common co-occurring diseases include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, depression, and generalized anxiety disorder.
Tackling the Addiction Problem
First, let’s tackle the obvious. They did not develop an addiction due to your parenting. Many factors contribute to whether or not an individual becomes an addict and none of them relate to parenting. Addiction stems from the psychological condition of the individual, their genetics, social influences, and parental influences. The latter might seem like it conflicts with the statement that it is not your fault. It doesn’t. You making them clean their room did not make them drink. Parents do set an example, so if they see you deal with day-to-day situations by drinking, that will influence them. By itself, it did not cause their addiction though. Some individuals carry a gene that predisposes them to addiction. That is why most rehabilitation facilities treat it as a disease. Alcoholism is just that, but one that remains treatable.
Prepare yourself for a potentially long haul when dealing with drug or alcohol addiction treatment. Early intervention helps, but early recovery from addiction is a time of high relapse rates. We know that the more support a person has the better their chances of remaining sober. After completing a rehab stay, typically a 28-day program, your teen will benefit from the support of a program like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. These free support programs offer in-person and online meetings. Programs like SMART Recovery offer free online meetings.
If your teen already reached the legal driving age, they may have racked up their first DUI. The legal limit in Connecticut is 0.08% or above alcohol by volume. That has become universal throughout the 50 states. You can help them make that their only DUI by sending them to a defensive driving school course after they finish rehab. Addressing problems such as mental health issues or addictions early in life can help provide your teen with healthy adulthood. If you’re lucky, you catch their addiction in the developmental phase with one of their first binge drinking experiences, the favored way among teens to consume alcohol.
If only you could care for people as easily as industrial equipment. With the latter, predictive maintenance reduces maintenance costs by up to 30% and cuts downtime by up to 45%. You cannot predict whether your child will handle a pandemic well though. If you could, like the industrial equipment, you could decrease breakdowns by more than 70%. People, especially children, don’t work that way though. You can provide the best chance for a healthy future though by getting them into therapy or rehab immediately. Commit to a long-term plan that helps them improve their way of life now, so they can enter adulthood with a fresh start.
While spending time with your children at home after they begin therapy or return from rehab, consider implementing some dedicated family time. Set up a family game night, one special dinner you cook together per week, at least, and a Zoom family experience with long-distance family. Plan outdoor activities together, too. You might not start out with that much in common, but you can develop mutual interests while the world rides out the Delta variant. Plan a movie night together where each person gets to choose a short or the kids pick one film and the adults the other, for a double feature. You can build in family time to bring you closer after addressing the overarching issues your teen faces.