Getting Support for Teen Crises

'Winter Blues' photo (c) 2010, Kara - license: post is dedicated to the memory of “Ricki”, a teenager with Down Syndrome who died in her sleep this week. Blogger RickisMom wrote about the challenges she and Ricki faced bravely in her blog Beneath the Wings, which served as a resource for moms of teens with disabilities. May the family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Reader pseudo1 sent me this article about parental silence in the face of difficulties with teens. The author, Sarah Buttenweiser, points out that parents who write online about challenges with babies or preschoolers get plenty of support. But as kids enter adolescence and the problems become serious, privacy issues come into play. Online parenting writer Katie Granju never mentioned her son’s drug use until after he was killed. Perhaps she would have been able to help her son more if she had shared his story online. We’ll never know.

I’ve faced the issue writing about teens here on my own blog. Several readers objected when I mentioned that one of my teenagers had said something obnoxious. Eventually I took down that post and a few others, even though readers going through similar issues found the posts helpful.

Almost every teen goes through a difficult stage at one time or another.  As Buttenweiser points on, the challenges for parents are often exponentially greater than breastfeeding problems or preschool tantrums. Parents who have found a successful way to discipline younger children may find themselves helpless around teens.

Finally, parents are embarrassed to tell others about their teen’s issues, which may include drugs, inappropriate sexual behavior, mental illness, crime, school failure, addictions, eating disorders and for religious families, lack of religious observance. Conformity counts in religious society. People think they are the only ones with problems, but they’re not.

If you are parenting a teenager, do you have access to the support and resources you need?


Help for Parents of Teens: Interview with Daniel Schonbuch

Stepping Off Your Teen’s Emotional Rollercoaster

Cyber-Bullying, Teens and Facebook



  1. Shoshanna says

    As the mother of four boys ages 13 and up, this is a big topic for me.
    I think with teens there is the concern that if you seek support online they will find out about it and/or their privacy will be compromised. I think also there is more shame involved in admitting difficulties with teens than with toddlers or babies. Or maybe just that their problems tend to be more embarrassing.

    I have sometimes asked for help with teen issues on anonymous online forums and got some good advice and support.

    Immamother has a sub-forum for parenting teens.

  2. I struggle with this issue. Alot. Especially in the summers where there is much less structure. In Modi’in just last week some teens were picked up on a police “sweep” and caught with marijuana. These are religious kids from “good” homes (whatever that means–but not kids from a family-at-risk situation). These are kids that my kids hang out with. Big article in the local paper about how the Yeshiva is handling it. The Rav of the ulpana stated that this kind of thing “absolutely does not happen in the ulpana”, to which both my girls snickered–they know girls who smoke and drink.

    My kids hang out with these kids. I think my kids are okay. I talk to them alot. I talk to other parents alot. But I’m terrified. There but for the grace of G-d go I.

  3. Hannah, your article is great. No, moms don’t talk about teen issues. Wish they did! I think it’s magnified when you are an older first time mom, like I was. I know so many women who struggle with infertility, including family members. It’s like, how dare I say anything negative when so many can’t have the opportunity to have struggles with children of any ages?

  4. This is an extremely tricky issue. But, I think that the role of shame, especially in the Orthodox community is way overblown here. Most parents who don’t openly reach out for help have two serious issues that are hard to get around. One is that you simply can’t keep this secret from your kids -and in the vast majority of cases, if a child finds out that Mom (or Dad) publicly discussed their issues, the damage can be huge. Too, too risky for most parents. The other issue is the child’s privacy. Most people don’t see a discussion about a child’s feeding problems -no matter how serious – as having any real repercussions for the child or his (her) privacy. It’s a very different thing with older children and teens, especially if you are talking about more serious health or behavioral issues. I don’t think that there are any easy answers to this issue.

    I would point out, by the way, that the assumption that problems with teens are, almost by definition, more serious than problems with infants and young children is really not true.

  5. Regular Anonymous says

    I have 2 very challenging teenagers. I cannot even believe the situations I have dealt with.

    B”H, I am fortunate to have a wonderful psychologist who is both understanding and generous with his time.

    I’m also fortunate that as an older mom, many of my friends have already finished with their difficult teens, have seen them straighten out and are able to advise me on how to cope or at least lend a sympathetic ear.

    Too bad if my kids feel their privacy is invaded by me talking to my friends or to an anonymous on-line forum – I would not have been able to survive without doing so.

    The Imamother subforum for parenting teens is open to the public so I don’t post there. There is a closed forum for OTD/Extremely rebellious teens but not much posting there.

  6. I agree there is not so much activity on parenting forums when it comes to teens. The advice usually given is put your relationship first or detach and leave the work to mentors, coaches, therapist, rhab treatment or thearaputic treatment centers , juvie etc

    The challenge of keeping kids intrinsically motivated and on the derech is very challenging , but the challenges other parents go through – crime, stealing, damaging property , drunkard driving, hard drugs, selling drugs, pregnancy makes an argument on the length of a sleeve look silly.

    I summarized Unhappy Teenagers by William Glasser

    Forums are pretty important. Most people don’t have a clue what parents of challenging kids go through and are often very judgmental about them not being consistent and firm in laying boundaries.

    The truth is that some kids are more easy wired than others

    For most of the working with approaches – CPS collaborative problem solving – is the how to

  7. I am so sad about Ricki – her poor mother and family. What a horrible thing ! I am abroad or would pay a shiva call. Please say something from me if you go

  8. baruch dayan emet

  9. i don’t think it is right to write publicly about one’s older children (old = old enough to find it online). and i think it’s very wrong to write about personal matters with reference to them, aside from exceptional cases (e.g., a kid who needs an organ donation and the publicity can help)

  10. I stopped blogging largely because of this. A lot of what I wanted to write about concerned one of my older kids, and it’s not fair to this child. I always said that though I blogged anonymously, I would never write about something that I would be upset if someone I knew (or my kids knew) found out. You have to assume people will figure out who you are, and at least two people did while I was blogging, one of whom I hadn’t seen or spoken to in almost five years.

    And I wish I could share this issue, because there would be a lot of support here. A problem with getting support in you r community for a teenager is that sometimes, that child is walking around looking fine. They want babysitting jobs, a spot on a league team, friends in school. And getting support in your own community can involve having people who see your child every day, or may one day be hiring them, know this very private thing about them. As may their friends’ parents, who may want to stay objective but find it difficult. I think the easiest venue of support would be to make contacts in a neighboring but similar town.

    • ” A problem with getting support in you r community . . .”

      good point, although in this respect i can’t imagine that going to a neighboring community would protect privacy that much more

  11. My impression is the main thing is to always have time to listen to a teenager.

  12. As I recall, you’ve written about the issue of having an anonymous blog. I think this topic touches on one benefit of being anonymous. I guess it depends on the focus of your blog, your career/profession,, and your community as to whether the challenges of remaining anonymous outweigh the benefits of blog-fame. I think one way to deal with this is to guest post anonymously on another’s blog. I’ll tell you its not easy to get readers if you want to be truly anonymous.