The decision to send a child to a therapeutic boarding school is not something anyone takes lightly. It is a big cost and it is difficult to put the care of your child in the hands of others. Many parents of teens struggle through the emotional overload of this kind of decision. Although you and your family are hopeful for these next steps towards healing, there are still very real fears. Here are some top fears of parents who have children in a therapeutic boarding school program.
1. Will they fit in?
After watching your special child struggle and fail and flounder in the school system, community and at home, parents are extra sensitive to the uniqueness of their own child. They realize a traditional path is not working for their son or daughter. They know they have quirks and antics and learning differences. They wish for friends and teachers that will be understanding and accepting. Parents often feel these fears eased when they come visit the school, dorm and campus because they can see all of our kids are unique and quirky and still fit in.
2. Will they miss home?
As with any change in routine, parents are worried about homesickness for their child while they are away from home. Will missing their family and home life affect them in negative ways? Or worse yet, will they like it so much at boarding school they won’t want to come home? It is normal for parents to worry about their child’s transition. Living and going to school in a home away from home creates opportunity for growth and new skills that might not otherwise be available to your child.
3. Will I be left out of their lives?
Many parents fear the boot camp approach to helping troubled teens which takes children out of their comfort zone and forces them to rely on staff and peers to navigate their lives. For most such schools, whatever is needed to make child and parent feel connected to each other is what they strive for.
4. Will I still make decisions for them?
When a parent entrusts their child to the care of a therapeutic boarding school, they always worry if they will still be in the parental, decision making role for their child. The fear that they will lose control over their child and their decisions just based on their proximity. It is normal for a parent to want to know what their child is experiencing in their life. To know if they’re hurting or happy, making friends and making good decisions.
Being a parent is not easy. It is filled with struggles and challenges. No good parent wants to have a “bad” kid. Whether they’re getting in trouble in school or misbehaving with family, many parents worry they are doing something wrong. As conventional thinking goes, parents are most often to blame when their children are out-of-control and exhibiting chronic bad behavior. When kids act out, it’s often the parents who get the blame. But that may not always be the case.
Bad Behavior in Your Teen Does Not Mean You Were a Bad Parent
Anyone with kids knows that everyone is different. Some may be more creative, others more coordinated. Well, what about behavior? For years, mental health professionals have been trained to see children as mere products of their environment, but researchers are finding this not to be exactly true. While there are all too many bad parents around, bad behavior by a child does not necessarily mean bad parenting is responsible. Sometimes good parents just have ‘bad’ kids. Bad parents can also have ‘good’ kids.
Behavioral problems in children could be a behavioral disorder such as oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorder or a pattern of negative, defiant and disobedient behavior where your child repeatedly and persistently defies rules and the rights of others without concern or empathy.
Listening to your teen and valuing her ideas is what promotes the ability of parents to effectively communicate with teenagers. But, most parents do not listen well because they are too busy — with work, community, church, and home responsibilities. Listening to a teen does not mean giving advice and attempting to correct the situation. Parents need to talk to their children about what is right and wrong and about appropriate and inappropriate behavior. There will be times when teens won’t like what you say or will act as though they don’t like you. Being your child’s friend is not your role as a parent. It’s important to resist the urge to win their favor or try too hard to please them.
How can you tell if your teen’s behavior is a problem? Could it be just normal teenage rebellion? How much distress, disruption, and heartache are your child’s problems causing? Are they affecting the family, your marriage, you, the child herself?
When children become teens, there is no doubt about it, they will test the patience and limits of parents. Parents need to tweak their parenting skills to keep up with them. It’s good to know what efforts are worth it and which ones backfire. Some teens get mixed up in bad things, such as doing drugs, hanging around with the wrong crowd or having sex. For parents to expect the worst could become a self-fulfilling prophecy, because negative expectations can actually promote the behavior you fear most. Do not sweat the small stuff. If it’s not putting your teen at risk, give them the leeway to make age-appropriate decisions and learn from the consequences of their choices. But, do not ignore the big stuff, either.
Parents Must Not Feel Ashamed When Seeking Help For Troubled Teens
Despite the fact that many parents must face issues related to supporting troubled girls, there is too often a stigma of shame and failure that parents feel when they believe that they have let their child down. The truth is there is nothing shameful about struggling to raise a child properly in this seemingly warped contemporary world, with its bizarre affronts to the dignity of young girls, myriad temptations and the emerging awareness of many new mood disorders and mental health issues.