For parents who've had troubled teens living at home, the holidays are usually filled with mixed emotions. As the holidays approach, parents hope the seasons and celebrations will bring out the best in their troubled teen like in the days past when as children they wanted to be their best selves for Santa, but often they holidays only amplify the problems the family faces. On “normal” days or in “normal” months, most families are already stretched to the limit with things to be done, problems to be solved, and needs to be met. Holidays add another layer of expectations, commitments, chaos, and business. Financial stresses are magnified and at times it feels like every family member is at their breaking point.
Even with all of this going on, we can choose to change our expectations, make our own choices of what is important and necessary, and look at it all from the perspective of “it is what we make of it.”
Keeping things simple, realistic, and positive, especially when balancing the needs of little children, troubled teens and other family members is important.
Dr. Mayer talks about troubled teens and the holidays, offering a unique approach to making things work for everyone.
The holidays only make it tougher when seeking treatment for troubled teens.
When I realized that I needed to find help outside my home for my son, I dreaded the upcoming holidays on one hand, but had hope that somehow he would change on the other.
As Thanksgiving drew closer and I was still researching residential treatment centers in Utah, making calls, and scheduling visits, I dreaded the idea that maybe my research would be complete and my decision made before the holidays were here. I knew he need help that I couldn't provide, but also hoped the magic of the season would be enough to make it all go away. I hated the idea of having him live away from home during the holidays. I worried that he would hate me for not waiting. It was a tough decision, but I knew that treatment needed to be the priority over my feelings, and I also knew from past experience that he didn't want to be at home or with family anyway. His new “friends” were all that mattered and the dangerous “fun” they were having.
These concerns were added to the list of questions and concerns I would address with the residential programs I would be soon visiting. As I visited the programs I was able to ask about what they did for the holidays, what Thanksgiving would be like, a typical Christmas day, and birthday.
Every program is different in the way they approach the holidays with their students, so it's important to ask about these special days and ask the students themselves when visiting what they thought and how they felt spending the holidays in residential programs. The students I talked to in each program said that of course they would rather have been home, but their experience away from home only made them more appreciative of the importance of family and loved ones.