Families and professionals need to know that supportive resources may be found in nearly all communities, though finding the right help may take several tries. 

View Mental Health and Family Resource Links (PDF)

When a Client/Patient Has Spent Time in a Residential Treatment or Wilderness Program (PDF), for mental health and medical professionals and former residents 

Please note: ASTART does not evaluate programs or make program recommendations. We do offer a list of the warning signs of potentially abusive programs.

Parents Can and Do Survive the Teen Years—You Can, Too

Help for parents and teensWe understand how hard it can be to cope with a rebellious or stressed teen. We understand that you may be questioning your abilities as a parent, feeling frustrated that you can’t find the help you need for your child, feeling scared and perhaps desperate for your child’s safety and future.

Many of us have been there. We’ve faced serious challenges with our own children, and some of us have turned to residential programs for teens for help. One mom whose daughter died in a wilderness program said, “I just wanted the cycle of fear to stop.” Perhaps you know this feeling.

We urge you to slow down, and seek solutions close to home. Many, many parents and families deal with the same worries and frustrations, and with time and patience they get through it together.

ASTART encourages families to seek help in their own communities and within their own families. However, there are instances where safe, therapeutic and appropriate care of limited time duration—a few weeks to a few months—is indicated. This is a decision that should be made in collaboration with a licensed professional, such as a psychiatrist, who will produce a diagnosis and treatment plan which he or she will sign, and for which he or she will be legally responsible.

Please, reach out to relatives, friends, fellow parishioners or neighbors for help and support. You may need a break from the stress, and many parents find relief within their own community of caring adults—a son moves to his grandparent’s farm for a summer, a daughter stays with an aunt and uncle, or a stepson stays with family friends. In our experience, there's more help than you think, close at hand, from people who understand and care.

What some perceive as "bad" or "undisciplined" behavior by teens may often be caused by external factors and events beyond the young person's control

  • Divorce of parents or remarriage 
  • Death of a parent or other loved one
  • Physical or sexual abuse, or bullying
  • Family conflict, including conflict with siblings
  • Learning difficulties and disabilities, which can increase as coursework becomes more challenging
  • Depression, anxiety, eating disorders, autism or Asperger's syndrome, or other mental illness or developmental disorders

"Tough love" is not a recognized therapy for problems such as these, and may make them worse. Youth with these conditions most often benefit from positive encouragement, and support and assistance in learning how to cope in their home environment with these challenges.  

Parents of struggling teens often need help for themselves. We encourage you to seek support for yourself and your family. Teens who are acting out are often reacting to stressful relationships or events within the household. In almost every situation, the best path to healing family relationships is working together as a family to find solutions.   

Parents can, and do, survive the teen years. You can, too!

Last updated 4/9/13.