Raising troubled kids is the hardest parenting job of them all.
This website is dedicated to helping parents and caregivers of troubled children, teenagers, and young adults:
- How to manage at home while caring for everything else
- How to manage the different disorders
- Whole family self-care
- Wisdom and comfort
The onset of my child’s illness was devastating. I watched her transform from an amazing person into someone who couldn’t manage life… even trying to end it several times. Doctors and therapists helped my child, but were unable to help me, the parent who loves the child and takes direct care 24/7.
What are you teaching her that I should replicate in the home? How will the illness unfold over time? What do we plan for? What do I do in a crisis?
It took almost 20 years of committed study and communication with 100’s of parents and mental health professionals to gather the facts and wisdom that help parents, regardless of their child’s behavioral problems.
—-The bad news is that disorders are often degenerative; as an illness progresses it changes the child’s brain, and then it’s harder to treat.
—-The good news is that an early start and the right approach, can turn their life path around. Have hope.
This month’s featured post
Note of caution: it’s never appropriate to make fun of a child. The purpose of this article is to help a parents’ ease stress by finding humor in their situation, private humor–never to be shared with the troubled child or anyone else who will share it with the child.
Things can only go downhill so far until you lose it. Troubles build, going from bad to horrible, and then your child says something so bizarre or silly, and even though it may be politically incorrect, and even though it may seem sick or hurtful or embarrassing, there is absolutely nothing left to do but laugh.
“That boy gave me so much trouble, then one day he said to me, “Mom, why is it always about you?” !
–Mother of an 18-year-old son with mild schizophrenia
“Normal,” a setting on a washing machine.
For parents like you, humor is necessary, even “gallows humor.” Laughter is a legitimate strategy for relieving stress, and brain scans prove that laughter reduces stress signals. An emergency room nurse once told me that ER staff joke among themselves about patients in order to help them cope with the intensity of their job. They talk about some patients as “too stupid to live,” or when a motorcycle accident victim is brought in the door (who wasn’t wearing a helmet), they refer to them as “organ donors.” With each other, some police use the term “knucklehead” instead of “person.” A sex-offender therapist told me her team tells sex-offender jokes!
“… as high as 94 percent of people deem lightheartedness as a necessary factor in dealing with difficulties associated with stressful life events.”
–David Rosen, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Texas A & M University
We child-proofed our home, but they still got in.
You have permission to laugh at all the crazy, zany, exasperating, nonsensical, and nutball things your troubled child does or says, just never in their presence… or in anyone’s presence who doesn’t understand. It doesn’t mean you don’t love or care your child, but humor really helps your mental health. In the support groups I facilitate, a parent will occasionally share a funny story about their troubled child and the room roars with laughter.
You can’t scare me, I have teenagers!
True story – At health class in high school, students saw a film about emotional trauma. Upon returning home, a 14-year-old son exploded with fury, berated his mother, then charged off to his room and slammed the door, once, twice, three times. The mother was accustomed to this behavior and went to his room and attempted to calm him down. He screamed, “I finally found out why I’m having so many problems! I learned in health class that I am a “feral child” because you abandoned me when I was a baby!”
True story – The 20-year-old schizophrenic son angrily obsessed that his mother spoke with his school counselor when he was 11. He railed that this invasion of privacy was wrong, immoral, hurtful, illegal, unethical, and stupid, and every other sin he could think of. Mom had long learned to just let him vent, but one day she became exasperated and said, “That was nine years ago! I apologized a hundred times. What more do you want?” The son stopped for a moment, confused, and said, “I don’t believe you. Did you erase my memory again?”
True story – The 16-year-old daughter had ADHD and bipolar disorder. She had grandiose plans to become a famous person and lead an “epic” life. Once, she made an unsuccessful attempt to lose weight, explaining, “I tried anorexia but didn’t have the discipline.”
The main purpose of holding children’s parties is to remind yourself that there are children more awful than your own.
True story – The mother of a violent 10-year-old daughter said “I just bought a gallon of Spackle on sale, which is great. Spackle is my friend!” Another mother with a violent 16-year-old son agreed. She said she’d become skilled at repairing and texturing dry wall after all the damage he’d done. Both moms brainstormed starting a company to repair homes battered by troubled children. “It would help the parents, and we could offer support too… and not judge!”
True story – Several parents at a support group were sharing their frustration from hearing friends talk proudly about their wonderful children, and the fun things they did together. Each parent had similar experiences, and each felt embarrassed, ashamed, left out. One mom finally blurted, “Those stupid happy families, I hate them!”
“Oh, oh I am dying. I am so bereft of mind.”
True story – After two hours of this 16-year-old’s family trying to console her, her use of the pretentious word “bereft” broke the spell and everyone burst out laughing. Then the daughter started laughing too.