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Problematic Teen? Counselling for Parents First!



Our son is a mess. He keeps getting into trouble. I am convinced he is drinking and I know he is not reaching his potential at school. I have told him time and time again what will happen if he doesn't pick up his socks. My husband and I fight about this all the time. He says I am too lenient and I think he is too demanding. Should we send our son to counselling? He's 15 years old.


It may be that the issue is less who is right between being lenient or strict than the fact the two parents are not on the same page.
It isn't uncommon for parents to have different preferred styles for addressing challenges posed by their kids. However, when the conflict of parenting styles continues unabated, the parents wind up more focused on their differences and the issues of the child continue unchecked.

Before sending your son for counselling, the better starting place is with yourselves - the parents. You folks need to come to terms on a united strategy to address your concerns with your son.

Please note, the issue likely isn't a matter of choosing who is right and who is wrong between your two styles, but sorting out which style to deploy when, or how to combine your different efforts, rather than canceling them out.

As for teens and counselling, this is always a tricky issue. Most teenaged boys bristle at the thought of it. Even when dragged in, the counsellor is either faced with a sullen withdrawn lad who refuses to talk (lead a horse to water, but can't make them drink), or an abjectly furious youth who only spews expletives about the parents. Counselling is thus a long and arduous process, if you can even get the youth to return.

By seeing the parents first, parents can be helped to get on the same page to address the issues with their teenaged children more productively.

A time to best consider individual counselling for the teen is when the issues of the parents are so intractable the parents won't change and the teen needs outside support to cope with them.


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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
(905) 628-4847  


Gary Direnfeld is a social worker in private practice. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider Gary an expert on child development, parent-child relations, marital and family therapy, custody and access recommendations, social work and an expert for the purpose of giving a critique on a Section 112 (social work) report.


Call Gary for your next conference and for expert opinion on family matters. Services include counselling, mediation, assessment, assessment critiques and workshops.


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For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.


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20 Suter Crescent, Dundas, ON, Canada L9H 6R5 Tel: (905) 628-4847 Email: gary@yoursocialworker.com