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The Warnings and Lessons of Pain

None of us likes pain.  Yet it is one of the most important teachers and warning signs that we have. In normal circumstances, pain tells us that something is very wrong. And it teaches us to avoid harmful behavior. But rather than heeding the warning sign, teens today have means at their disposal for avoiding pain, or their parents continually bail them out, so they can fail to learn.

Pain comes from many sources.  When I get thrown from a horse, I want the aspirin bottle handy—or maybe a pain prescription.  But when a teenager is in emotional pain, often he or she will self-medicate with pot, illicit or prescription drugs, alcohol, or the rush of heightened adrenalin from risky behavior. It dulls the pain, at least for a little while. Continue reading “The Warnings and Lessons of Pain”


Relieving Tension in the Home

nervous teenThere was a lot of tension in my home when I was growing up.  I can remember the whole family nervously sitting around the dinner table and eating a meal without saying a word.  When we were at odds with each other we were taught a very simple coping strategy; avoid it!  Of course that didn’t solve anything or make it go away; the tension just built up over time, eventually exploding like an erupting volcano.

It’s important that our homes be a place where everyone can release their tension in appropriate ways and find a respite and relief.  If not, your teens will find ways to self-medicate the tension away through drugs, alcohol, promiscuity or self-harm. The pressures of their world are far greater than when we were kids, so let me share with you some practical ideas for relieving tension in your home. Continue reading “Relieving Tension in the Home”


Teen Intervention and Recovery

We received an email recently from a desperate mother who wrote: “My son has been deeply depressed and is refusing to go to counseling.  The school suspended him because the counselor there deemed him to be suicidal.  He’s very precious to me, but I’m at a loss what to do.”  This is a classic case where intervention is needed—when if something isn’t done quickly, the child may not be around long.

It’s important to understand up front what intervention is…and what it is not.  Intervention is not about getting justice for your teen’s misbehavior (for terrorizing the whole family); intervention is about saving them from themselves.  It gives kids an opportunity to step back from the brink and begin dealing with the underlying issues that are causing the symptoms that have brought things to a crisis point. Continue reading “Teen Intervention and Recovery”