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When sending your teenager away is the only solution

Parents of teenagers, who are out of control, sometimes have no option but to consider whether a behavior modification program may be the solution to their teens' problems. Whilst no parent likes to admit defeat, there are some teen problems that go way beyond normal teenage behavior, and the parent is ill equipped to deal with them. If a teenager has a serious alcohol or drug problem, it will not be cured by a long chat, or a few sessions with the school counselor. Drug addiction is a complex area, requiring professional help.

The teen's environment may well be adding to the problem, and teens attending therapy sessions with their local psychologist, are still able to visit the clubs and bars serving alcohol, or meet their dealer in the local park. Short of locking their teenager in their bedroom, parents have few means with which to control their teens' movements. They will have to trust that the therapy has a fast enough impact to make an immediate difference, which no therapist would ever promise; most patients relapse several times before being able to finally conquer their addiction.

Many parents will persist with home-based treatment, wanting to help their teenager to recover, which is totally understandable. A teen is more likely to improve their behavior if they feel that their parents care enough to be involved in their treatment, supporting them and not washing their hands of the situation. Parents, often feel helpless when their teenager refuses to listen, defies them and loses control when disciplined.

By participating in their own program of therapy to help them to manage their teen, alongside the teens' program of therapy; they regain some semblance of control over their teens' behavior. With less severe behavioral problems this may work, with occasional set-backs, but eventually with a teenager no longer defying their parent and the underlying causes identified and managed. However, with a delinquent teen that has been arrested several times, or displayed extreme violence or continued with their addiction, despite therapy; the home based solution may no longer be the best option.

Sending their teenager away, to boot camp, wilderness camp, residential therapy centers, may feel like failure for the parents. The teenager will be angry and feel betrayed, the family will feel guilt and shame, but in the end it may be the best solution for all. The family is not just the teenager, parents and other children in the family deserve the chance to lead a normal life free from the anxiety that a delinquent teen can generate. The teenager needs to be away from the bad influences that contribute to their extreme behavior and have a breathing space in which to understand the root of their anger and problems. Time apart from each other may be the only way that the family will be able to get back together at a later date and establish a stable and calm relationship.

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