About me

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My name is Margaret Puckette. I, too, am the parent of a child with a serious disorder.  Most of the posts are by me, but several are by guests–I am always looking for articles with practical advice for helping parents. For more information, raisingtroubledkids@comcast.net.

I’ve run family support groups for the past 16 years. As a Wraparound Family Partner, I’ve assisted many families to stabilize their home life and sustain mental health for all members. This required collaboration with therapists, teachers, and psychiatrists s a team, and learning what parents need most to manage their family and stay sane. You can have hope. People do this every day.

This is sort of a resume of my involvement with parents with troubled kids:

Child and Family Mental Health Work and Advocacy

  • 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 – started a program to support families, revise documents to reflect family friendly language, and trained staff on family needs for  psychiatric residential organization in Portland Oregon.
  • Family Partner, Wraparound Oregon – mentored and coached families of youth with mental disorders who were involved in the juvenile justice system.


  • Raising Troubled Kids – Help for Parents of Children with Mental Illness or Emotional Disorders,” 2008

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 class, Social Work
Portland State University – undergraduate class, Social Studies
Oregon Health Sciences University – graduate class, School of Nursing
George Fox University –post doctoral class, Clinical Psychology
Oregon Health Sciences University – Presentation on whole-family treatment approaches for child and adolescent psychiatrists

Media experience and volunteering

  • Oregonian interview on the subject of violence and mental illness, 2013
  • Letter of Commendation – Oregon Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 2012 for “contribution to the well-being of adolescents and families with serious emotional and mental health issues.”
  • 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, aired 2012
  • KOIN-TV News interview on the subject of depression in children, 2012
  • Oregonian interview on the subject of my support groups, 2011
  • Volunteer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, ongoing
  • Chair, Benton County Mental Health Advisory Board
  • Member, Commission on Children and Families, Benton County


(February 2012)  “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

Testimonials about Margaret’s support groups

“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 Colling, mother, and Pauline Newman, grandmother

“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, Oregon

Testimonials about “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 Nifoussi, Juvenile Probation Officer, Lincoln, Nebraska

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 Responses to About me

  1. Gwen

    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. LeeAnna

    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. Jennifer

    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.

    • 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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