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Parents and Teens Can Co-Exist

Written By Bryon Remo, M.Ed., LMFT
Please advise...

We do not view teenagers as broken, toxic, dysfunctional, crazy, messed up, clueless, lost, freak-shows, losers, punks, smart asses, thoughtless, self-centered narcissists.

But we do view them as terrorists! Just kidding. Well.. mostly.
Most kids are trying hard to navigate through school trying to make sense of internal and external changes. Their bodies and minds are fast developing and suddenly adults become the stupidest creatures on the planet. And as a father of a teenage son and two pre-teen daughters, I am certain I too am approaching the clueless stage. Yet there is a way to work with teens that minimizes conflict and takes advantage of connecting moments, even when they seem spaced far apart. And that is to see them for who they really are.

There is a quote I once heard, "Where your focus goes, energy flows." If you focus on your teen's strengths (laughter, intelligence, thoughtfulness, creativity, resiliency, hard-work, etc,) you will find it easier to stay connected with him/her. If you focus on their deficiencies or areas yet to be developed, you will most likely be annoyed each day.

Adolescents are caught between childhood and adulthood which is frankly no fun for anyone. Being in a state of transition, as most adults know, is not where we wish to be. Neither do they!

Teens have certain needs that when better understood and respected make them far more likely to engage with adults in meaninful interactions. Some of these needs are:

  • "No matter what, please don't embarrass me."

  • "Please give me space even when you think I've had enough."

  • "Please don't ask me how school was. I just spent 7 hours trying to get away from there."

  • "Don't assume my friend is a loser because you suspect he smokes weed."

  •  "I care about my grades but I don't need the extra pressure !"

  • "I want to hear what you have to say, just in small, quick doses."

  • "I want to spend time with family, just not on Friday and Saturday night between 7 pm and 1 a.m."

Adolescents are living in an age where it is easy for them to feel disconnected not only from the adult world but even from one another. Anyone have a smart phone? I'm sorry, I meant is anyone smart enough to not have a smart phone? Kids are so reliant on their phones, ipads, laptops, and all things digital and social media these days that it is even difficult for them to keep up with the changes. Not to mention, it is hard for them to see how previous generations had some advantages they are not always able to appreciate.


Parents today are not without some static in our lives, but kids today are struggling with basic social skills because in part at least, they are simply not getting enough practice. Kids fear giving school presentations because they are not used to be looked at....truly looked at. And I personally think it scares the hell out of them. Yet it is incredibly important that teens become more confident, assertive and courageous in their ability to genuinely connect with others and assert themselves both in the classroom and in social situations.

"Smart parents have discovered the art of bobbing in and out of conversations with their teens, knowing when to push for more and when to pull back."

Therapy with adolescents may include the following:

  • depression and anxiety
  • add/adhd
  • anger management/conflict resolution
  • school stressors (grades, time management, peers)
  • relationship issues
  • drugs & alcohol
  • sex & sexuality, body image
  • addictions, social media, texting/sexting
  • self-esteem
  • learning disabilities
  • identity issues
  • stress in athletics, family pressure, college concerns
" Life is NOT about finding yourself. It is about CREATING yourself. "
5 Rules Needed For Teens

 1. Promote Safety
2. Promote Morality
3. Develop Habits & Routines
4. Promote Social Skills
5. Prepare Kids for the Real World 

teenager (noun): When your too young for half the things you want to do and too old to do the other half.

 Social Media

Teenagers today are engulfed in a world of social media that is challenging their ability to manage the already innate difficulty of time management. As technology continues to expand beyond anyone's capacity to keep up, teenagers too are trying to decide which online forums they will navigate in an effort to stay connected to their peers. But sadly the very means teens use to stay connected is not exactly enhancing their social skills or ability to self-regulate and maintain balance. The consequence of this is a culture of teenagers that are communicating frequently but not necessarily gaining the relational closeness of which so many teens yearn. Furthermore, teens who are frequent flyers of social media are at great risk to a whole host of other issues such as:
*  sleep deprivation                  
*  poor social skills
* exposure to inappropriate content    
* poor physical health
* vulnerability to cyberbullying  
* less respect for adults  
* less discipline with home responsibilities
* more isolation

Parents today have to work harder than previous generations who did not have to contend with setting boundaries with their teens around technology that didn't exist. There is much research now on the impact of high levels of social media usage and its negative impact on the above mentioned issues. 

Highly Recomended Books:
"The Collapse of Parenting" by Leonard Sax
  "How to Raise an Adult" by Julie-Lythcott Haims

Teenagers are caught between childhood & adulthood- Adolescent Therapy can help!

Family  Blog 
Coming Soon!
How to Effectively Communicate with Teenagers

Effectively communicating with teenagers sounds like a punch line to a dumb joke. How exactly do you get through to these people? They can be so reasonable and workable in one moment and then deserving of the death penalty in the next. It is extremely important to take nothing that your teenager says seriously! I'm joking. I mean do not personalize the moodiness, hypercriticism and self-righteousness that often accompanies these awkward humans. They are an enigma and when we start to figure them out we realize that we haven't actually figured out anything.

Adolescence is a tricky stage of life not because it's been echoed through the ages, but because you can observe it for yourself. They are not needy and yet nowhere near independent. They like to act like adults and then we catch them perseverating over memes and video game cheats on You Tube. So how exactly do you interact with these taller, adult-sized beings who aren't grown up or grown down?

Timing is essential when trying to make progress with teenagers. Often they will be receptive to conversation and even self-improvement when they are in the right space. The secret is to know when that right space is. Some kids are walking zombies in the a.m. and radioactive at night. This leaves the daytime as the ideal time to engage them. 

Benefits of Teenage Counseling

Teenagers are often reluctant to attend counseling because.... frankly they would prefer for their parents to be in therapy. But if approached the right way, teenagers are often fiercely honest and willing to explore new insights and make changes.

An adolescent therapist working with teenagers has to be willing to accept the world view of the young person and resist trying to create change prematurely. Many times an unskilled teenage therapist will make the mistake  of working off the parents concerns and lose the connection necessary for teens to feel trusted.

Teenage counseling is unique in that teenagers are constantly changing their world view and the therapist needs to be aware of how these changes may or may not have significant implications. 

Teenage Depression Counseling

Teenagers often experience sadness for a variety of reasons- peer conflict, school anxiety, poor self-image, hormone imbalance, dating, over-tired, home-stress, sports, etc. What most teenagers have difficulty discerning is the difference between sadness and depression. A skilled teenage depression therapist will help teenagers accept the normalcy of sadness while educating them on the risks of it evolving into depression, which can be debilitating.

Teenage behavior counseling helps adolescents take a close look at the way they process their lives and gently challenge them to construct more effective approaches toward the way they handle recycled problems.

Teenage Anger Counseling

Teenagers often have incredibly powerful and volatile emotions. A teenage behavior therapist needs to be able to track the changing emotions of teenagers and determine whether the changes are normal or anomalous to their typical behavior. 

Many teenagers would benefit from anger counseling to be able to identify the triggers to their anger as well as coping strategies, calming techniques and helpful cognitive shifts.

Teenage anger counseling allows kids to differntiate between the normalcy of anger when threatened, insulted or where injustice exists versus the over the top anger kids might express because they were told to shut down fortnite after 6 hours of spraining their thumbs.

Teenage Anxiety Counseling

Teenagers are often worried far more than we wish they were. We are happy that they worry some about school grades, chores, hygiene and manners. But we often need to be aware when their anxiety turns from helpful to hurtful. A skilled teenage therapist will help an adolescent client organize the difference between when worrying motivates and when it paralyzes. There is a primitive normalcy to a certain degree of anxiety. But when it becomes all encompassing in a young person's life, the cost begins to outweigh the prize sought after by the teenager.

An adolescent therapist's job is to empower the teenager to become aware of his/her process and help them replace harmful ways of thinking with more effective approaches.