About me

About me

About me
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Margaret is an author, support group leader, and Certified Parent Support Provider who has been supporting families for over 20 years. As a parent who struggled, she is passionate about helping others with troubled children of all ages.

Margaret Puckette is a compassionate and experienced coach for parents of a child, teen, or young adult with a serious behavioral problem or addiction. She draws on years of personal experience as a parent, social worker, and support group leader. Her book and this blog of the same title, “Raising Troubled Kids,” offer practical and sound information on how to reduce stress at home and holistically improve family wellbeing.

“My goal has been to gather information and wisdom for parents that helps them manage a trying, upsetting, and stressful family situation–it is the type of information I desperately needed while trying to raise a child with a mental illness.  Professionals didn’t tell me what to do, and I faced inappropriate advice or criticism that crushed my spirit.”

Family is the foundation of the troubled child.  Families need support for managing and supporting all members, the siblings as much as the caregivers.  Neglect the parents and family, and their child is neglected and robbed of the support they need in the future.

Have hope. Things will get better.
You can start making changes now, today.

My story:  “Life with a schizoaffective teen,” tells what happened in my life, and what I discovered about raising a troubled child. I needed to think and interact with her so utterly differently than I thought parents should act… I can only describe it as mind-blowing.

My experience:

Child and Family Mental Health Work and Advocacy

  • Family Coach, I specialize in helping parents and caregivers like me, with children with serious behavioral disorders and addictions, ages 5 to 25+.
  • Certified Parent Support Provider – conferred by the Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health
  • Support group facilitator since 1999 for parents and family members of a child, teen, or young adult with a serious behavioral disorder.
  • Family Partner, Trillium Family Services, Portland, Oregon – I started a program to support families as a peer; revised documents to use family friendly language; and trained staff on what parents needed, practical advice and support for raising their child… but also self-care and family balance.
  • Family Partner, Wraparound Oregon, Portland Oregon – I mentored and coached families of youth with mental disorders who were involved in the juvenile justice system.


Conference Speaker

Children’s Mental Health Conference Portland Oregon, 2011, 2012
Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, Portland Oregon 2010, 2011, 2012
Family to Family, Portland State University, 2009
American Association of Children’s Residential Centers, San Diego, 2008
American Association of Children’s Residential Centers, Tampa Florida, 2006

Guest lectures

Portland State University – post graduate classes in the School of  Social Work
Portland State University – undergraduate class, Social Studies
Oregon Health Sciences University – graduate class for psychiatric nurse practitioners, School of Nursing
George Fox University –post doctoral class, Department of Clinical Psychology
Oregon Health Sciences University – Presentation for child and adolescent psychiatrists

Media experience and volunteering

  • Family adviser for the child and adolescent clinical psychiatric program at Unity Hospital, Portland OR, 2016 – 2017
  • Oregonian interview on the subject of violence and mental illness, 2013
  • Letter of Commendation – Oregon Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, for “contribution to the well-being of adolescents and families with serious emotional and mental health issues.” 2012
  • Oregon Public Broadcasting interview on the subject of teens and mental illness, November 2011
  • KATU-TV interview on the subject of bullying in schools, 2012
  • Clear Channel FM 107.1 interview on the subject of bullying and child behavior, aired 2012
  • KOIN-TV News interview on the subject of depression in children, 2012
  • Oregonian stories covering my support groups, here and here
  • Volunteer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, ongoing
  • Chair, Benton County Mental Health Advisory Board, OR, 4 years
  • Member, Commission on Children and Families, Benton County, OR 4 years


“The Oregon Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry commends you for your contribution to the wellbeing of adolescents and families with emotional and mental health issues.  Your book “Raising Troubled Kids” has helped many parents and is helpful to families internationally.  The members of OCCAP look forward to work together with you, and to learn even more from you in the future.”

Marvin Rose, MD, President, 2012

Testimonials about Margaret

“My son/grandson was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at age 14.  Neither of us had any idea what to do.  Both the mental health and school systems were complex and difficult to navigate.  We felt desperate, pressured, lost.  Then we found Margaret’s support group.  Within a month, we had an IEP in place, were handling the mental health issues and reaching an understanding of how to cope.   Nothing will ever be the same again but we can cope with it.  We call Margaret and her group a “lifeline” because for us it was exactly that.”
—Victoria C, mother, and Pauline N, grandmother

 “Despite years of therapy, alternative approaches, and interactions with healthcare professionals, my family was still wavering on whether or our daughter’s problem was serious, what should be done, or if anything even could be done.  Margaret’s wealth of knowledge and personal experience helped change our approach and perspective.  Her guidance with regard to pursuing information gathering, treatment options, and medication regimes has proven invaluable.  But what is more valuable, overall, is that she confirmed that there IS a problem.  Our daughter’s behavior isn’t merely bad coping skills or acting out – she has a serious mental illness that needs attention and care.”  –Marie D

“Rarely have I heard someone get to the heart of the matter so quickly, thoughtfully, and with such great insight. I know that meeting Margaret has inspired me to be a better mother to my children. Her ideas to cope with extreme behaviors have given me a new set of tools that I continually draw upon for the next event that may present itself. I now look at our situation with candor and the knowledge that I am not powerless.”   –Ann A

“My husband and I have often remarked that an hour with Margaret is worth a year with a family therapist. She just gets it and never failed to empower us with actions that we could implement immediately. Her practical insights always gave us the hope we so desperately needed. I have recommended her to many parents and do so knowing she can help and make a real difference.” –Kathy V, Life Coach


Testimonials about Margaret’s book “Raising Troubled Kids”

“As both the parent of a teenager with a mood disorder and a professional working with other “troubled kids”, I wholeheartedly endorse this beautifully written and theoretically sound book. Parents of mentally ill children are often misunderstood, maligned, and misjudged. Ms. Puckette provides practical advice, encouragement and realistic, yet hopeful glimpses into the lives of those of us who walk this difficult path. In addition to owning a copy for my personal bookshelf, I am planning to buy multiple editions to use in my clinical practice!”  –Elizabeth H.

“As a parent of a “troubled child” I found this book very insightful. It gave and continues to give me hope along this difficult journey I am taking in raising a child that has not yet been diagnosed but displays extreme behavioral problems. Anyone who has a child, a family member or even a friend that is going through this struggle could benefit from reading this book. I feel that the more people who are aware of the problems families with troubled children face, the more helpful we can all be of each other and therefore lighten the burden on many struggling families.”  –Keri W

“Margaret has great insight into how it feels to be the parent/guardian of kids who don’t fit into the general population. As I read I would think “YES! – that’s exactly what it’s like”. I especially found it comforting to know that there are many of us out there facing these same issues, and that my family and I aren’t alone on this journey. Margaret gives good basic advice on how to make home-life better for all involved, great down-to-earth ideas, not pie-in-the-sky theories that are nearly impossible to implement in the real world. I, too, enjoyed the stories and anecdotes that so clearly reflect the real life experiences of families living with mental illness.”   –Faith G

“If I had Margaret’s book back when I was a probation officer, I would have recommended it to the families of every client I had.”
Roy N

As a parent of two children battling mental illness, I embraced this book as a fantastic tool for navigating this rocky, uncharted terrain. The biggest challenge for me, personally, has been the feelings of isolation, that no one could ever understand what I as a parent go through on a day-to-day basis. Margaret Puckette DOES. This book reads as a thoughtful, practical manual, chock full of anecdotes and insights from Margaret and others who are also surviving this journey. I keep this book by my bedside and refer to it frequently, for comfort, tools, and insight. A valuable resource!!”  –Pamela L

5 Replies to “About me”

  1. My son has schizoaffective disorder, and still is a full time student at age 19. He has an IEP with an emotional disturbance disability, but the high school has directly placed him in a full inclusive setting (alternative program) mixed with students with behavioral issues for his entire term in this school of four years. He has earned 12 credits, and still has 12 more to go torwards his graduation. This setting is a credit recovery program where students use a software with condense coursework to makeup credits. It’s a challenge for my son whom also has a thought disorder and a specific learning impairment in math. Do you have any advise in the area of class settings?

  2. I am a mother of a 23 year old son who was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder a year ago. This has been an extreme challenge to say the least. I am trying to get a better understanding of how as parents we can help our son cope with this disorder and for us as well. He is on medication and sees a psychiatrist once a month maybe. He has ups and downs. He lives with a roommate and holds down a full-time job. This hasn’t been working out the best for him and he wants to move back home and go back to college full time. We are okay with this but he has to live by the house rules while he is here. What I am looking for is there support groups out there for parents in the Portland area living with a child with this mental health issue? Where can I get more information about understanding and learning more about this disease? I’m thankful I came across your site it has been very helpful.

  3. I am a single mother with three children. My 17 year old son has severe discipline problems. He’s refusing to go to school for the last two weeks left. He just got a job cutting hair at a barber shop something he’s been working toward for 3 years. He’s never liked school and is staying back for the 3rd time. I believe he just gave up. He also is very fresh to me and I really just don’t know what to do anymore. He refused counseling,big brother,after school help,camp,ect. He is not diagnosed with anything. Please help any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi Jennifer,

      Thank you for writing. From what you wrote here, things may not be as serious as they seem just now. Let’s look at what’s good such as the things your son is doing that demonstrate he’s trying to work things out for himself. First, he has a job, and better than that, it’s a job he’s wanted for a long time. This requires responsibility and focus, and job experience means he can take care of himself as an adult.

      Second, you didn’t say he was hurting anyone or property. Is this true? Really troubled kids usually cause harm to others or themselves or property. Self harm includes substance abuse, more than the usual experimentation done by teens. There is often criminal behavior or extreme risk-taking behavior.

      Third, being fresh with you (yelling, hurtful language, defiance) are typical for lots of teens. It’s not easy to tell the difference between what’s bad but ‘normal’ for teens, and what’s bad and abnormal for teens. I try to address this in my post titled “Is my teen ‘normal’ crazy or seriously troubled?”

      Your son has made it abundantly clear that he will NOT go to school. This doesn’t mean that he will never go to school. He may need a few years in the working world before he realizes he lacks an education. Lots of young people do this. There is something else to consider, is something bad happening to him at school? It could be anything: bullying, teasing, dyslexia (and shame he can’t read well), awkwardness at phys ed… There might be an unspoken and embarrassing reason he’s refusing.

      I can’t diagnose, and no one who can would do so over email, but it seems your son is coping with depressions. If true, and since he refuses treatment, you can change the environment at home to reduce his stress and outward symptoms of depression (anger, lack of sleep, sadness, irritability…). Try backing off on pressuring him for school. Offer some praise that he’s getting a decent honest job. Ask him his opinion about something, or ask him about his plans. Put effort into getting him to talk about things he’s thinking about and listen without responding. See what happens.

      You are being a good mom and showing proper concern for his future. But your son seems to be saying he is not ready to follow the paths of his peers. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; its not unusual for young people to need more time. At his age, your job is less about parenting and more about mentoring. It’s really tough to let go of the mothering you’ve been doing for many years; goodness, I don’t know a single parent who finds it easy to let go and let their difficult child make their own decisions. You are not alone, but letting go of the unique mom-son relationship you have may be the best thing you can do for yourself and your son for now.

      These are my opinions, but your instincts matter most. You probably already know what you need to do. Trust yourself.

      Take good care,


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