Don’t ignore the warning signs, you may think your son is just going through a phase, but that’s not always the case. Your son could be in trouble. It may be typical angst; here’s the difference.
Over the past 20 years I have helped countless troubled teens make the transition from boyhood to adult life with my program, The Quest Project.
The Warning Signs
Boys are having a hard time growing up these days. Adolescent boys are in crisis and are falling far behind their female counterparts in school and in life. They are failing to learn the lessons they need to survive and thrive in the adult world.
Here are five warning signs that your son is in trouble and what you can do about it.
Sign #1: Absent Father
You can: Get him a mentor. Whether dad is physically or emotionally unavailable, your son needs a male mentor or role model. Make sure it’s someone you both trust — an uncle, a family friend, a neighbor, a teacher, or a coach.
Sign #2: Drugs or Alcohol
You can: Get him in a treatment program. Many boys don’t know how to deal with the pain that comes with adolescence. They often turn to drugs and alcohol for relief. He may think it’s no big deal to party or rebel against your rules, but substance abuse does not make the pain go away. Get him treatment and follow up with counseling.
Sign #3: Isolating himself
You can: Get him in a support group. He needs exposure to healthy, mature and responsible men. There are various organizations to get him involved in, church groups, sports, volunteering in the community, etc. Help him find what works best for him. The goal is to interact with more people and get the support he needs.
Sign #4: Feels misunderstood: “you don’t understand what he is going through”
You can: Have this conversation. “I know things are changing for you, and that you’re no longer a little boy, and I want you to know that I can see it.” Even when he rolls his eyes at you (which he will), what matters is that he knows you validate and understand what he’s going through.
Sign #5: No sense of direction
You can: Remind him of his achievements. Honor his “unique self” and allow him to be himself; watch him soar! If he falls, help him up, brush it off and start over. Focus on the things he does well, not on what he does that is not so well. Every time he meets and exceeds your expectations, let him know you noticed. If you do this you help him build a healthy foundation and continue a path of achievement.
I believe if you keep these five signs in mind and take appropriate action you can help your son avoid “trouble.” My mission: “To create healthy lifestyles by teaching, facilitating, writing, research and example.”
Were these five signs to watch for helpful? Did I miss anything?