Don’t just ignore your troubled teen!
Keep talking to your troubled teen about their behavior — Don’t give up!
by Darlene McKenna, author of The Change
Is your teenage daughter or son just going through the normal stuff, or is it more? Do they listen to you when they do something wrong, or do they simply repeat the bad behavior? Are they staying out all night or not even coming home? Do you even know where they are? As a parent, do you find yourself tired and sick of all the battles? Have you just had enough and do you find yourself ignoring your troubled teenager?
As a former troubled teen, I would like to share some insight on this question. I became difficult and I never listened to my mom. It started with small stuff, like getting into fights and stealing things from her. Before you knew it, I was out all night around a fire pit drinking. Even the kids that I was hanging out with would say, “Darlene, you fell flat on your face last night. Maybe you shouldn’t drink as much tonight.” I didn’t care, and I would just go get another beer.
Why was I drinking so much? I was listening to a negative voice in my head that I now refer to as the “bad guy.” The bad guy would begin to whisper things in my head, like “Why are you such a loser? Everyone has a boyfriend, except for you. No one likes you. Everyone is prettier than you.” I was tough and I tried to ignore the voice. My goal was to be cool and I knew I needed a boyfriend!
Unfortunately because of being under the influence, my dates were never really dates, and when I sobered up I felt even worse about myself. Drugs became my next escape and things were getting out of control. One night, I remember letting the blotter acid melt on my tongue, and I was driving the car I had just purchased. It was a Cornet Dodge 550 and it had a pretend scoop on it.
Taking a sip of my beer at the red light, I noticed a STOP AND GO Car Repair Center on my left. I looked down at my dashboard on the right and saw all the beer stickers that I’d peeled off the bottles and stuck on the glove box. I noticed the light turning green, and then I screamed out loud, “Go!” I pushed the gas pedal all the way to the floor, and the car flew up the hill. I passed an ambulance on my right. Seconds after that, I would be in that ambulance along with two of my friends that were in the car. The car was totaled and we were all hurt, but thankfully no one had died.
A few nights later I found myself at another party and I didn’t like the boy that had asked me to go to the bedroom with him. Everyone had cute boyfriends that night, except for me. I hated who I was and I went to the bathroom instead. I slammed the beer bottle against the toilet and sliced my wrist. The blood was all over the floor and I ended up with six stitches. No one could even talk to me. The only thing I heard was the bad guy in my head. I decided to quit high school and the bad guy told me that I should just go thumb somewhere and get high.
Again, I found myself in dangerous situations that included being thrown out of a house with nothing on, and even taking seventeen hits of speed one night. I remember I was on my knees praying to God in a hotel room. I was crying and I was afraid I was going to die. “Please God, let me live. I don’t want to die!” The heart beats finally slowed down and I lived to see the next day.
One night I was at the beach and I found myself at another party and was violently raped. The rapist went to jail for seven to ten years. My past is a story of heartache but I’m sharing it in hopes to save a teen from going down this troubled road of bad choices. I could never let go of the shame that I had felt from my past. I even listened to the bad guy throughout my adult life.
When I was a teen, I never heard my mom when she tried to talk to me, but when she became quiet, the bad guy spoke even more. Please keep on talking to your teens so the bad guy won’t have room to talk. Even if your teen is ignoring you, keep on trying to get through and don’t ever give up.
I now have strength to share my story because I know that we all have a purpose in life. I hope this story will help you in some way. My view of myself has totally changed. I am okay now and all my past shame is not what God wants me to focus on. God is now my first focus. God has showed me grace and now I know that I am loved. It is amazing, once that happens!
So as easy as it is, don’t ignore your troubled teenager. Remember, they need you.
The Change by Darlene McKenna is available for purchase on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. All earnings from book sales will be used to support troubled youth.