Parents who think they can pinpoint when their teen’s life went off the rails are often surprised to learn how wrong they are.
Venture Academy therapist and clinical director Connie Buckle says parents will often point to a teen’s drug use or criminal behaviour as the problem when in fact it is merely a symptom of a much deeper problem.
“We ask parents when the difficulty first started and in almost every case it wasn’t something that started last weekend or last month,” Buckle said.
It’s much like a pot of boiling water; something that progresses slowly over time.
Buckle says it’s essential that families reattach with one another.
“The secret is very simple: families spending quality time and being mindful while they’re doing it,” she says. “This means when families are having dinner, for example, they are connecting and engaging through conversation as opposed to watching television.”
“Parents need to plan regular time as a family unit, focusing on relationship building. This cannot be done at the same time as checking email, using the blackberry or catching up on work. Similarly, it does not take place while a child is engrossed in video games or on the computer.”
Buckle says families without rituals like family dinners have no opportunity to come together in one central place for any reason other than one involving conflict.
Human Development Professor Reed Larson agrees consistency and predictability is key during the often-tumultuous teen years.
Lawson says when possible it’s best parents postpone major life changes until after the teen years. His study shows teens inundated with transitions and stressful life events – like moving to a new home or city – were the most moody.
“If a move to a new home or city or change in the household, like an aging grandparent moving into the home can wait, things will probably be easier,” he said in an article posted on 24/7. “If the home is a place that’s filled with hassles, it will only make living in the same house more stressful for everyone.”