Help for Parents of Troubled Teens

Are you a parent who’s wondered where to find help, encouragement and insights for your troubled teen? You may only need a book with freshattitude ideas. But your problems may be more serious and you need a residential program. I’m a parent who struggled for years to find the help, encouragement and insights I needed, too.  In today’s blog I’ll share some books and websites for teen programs around the country. It took me years to find these and I believe each one has much to offer.  It is my prayer that something here will help you.


Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens by David Tripp;   Helpful information and video talks by pastor, author David Tripp.


Relief for Hurting Parents : How to Fight for the Lives of Teenagers: How to Prepare Younger Children for Less Dangerous Journeys Through Teenage Years by  Buddy Scott;  Excellent help to struggling parents including materials to help start support groups for those using their materials.


When Your Teen is Struggling: Real Hope & Practical Help for Parents Today by Mark Gregston;; Heartlight is a residential therapeutic boarding school with counseling located in Texas; Gregston leads “Dealing with Today’s Teens seminars across the country and has a radio program.


When Your Stranger Becomes: The Stranger in Your House by Gregory L. Jantz, Ph.D. Founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources, a leading health-care facility near Seattle that specializes in whole-person care. Also authored Hope, Help, and Healing for Eating Disorders.


When Teens Stray: Parenting for the Long Haul by Scott Larson; Executive Director of Straight Ahead Ministries, a faith-based program for troubled youth in a hundred facilities in 10 states,


Sharon Hersh’s books:  Becoming your daughter’s ally in the major areas of temptation and struggle for today’s teens.

Mom, I Hate My Life!

                                             Mom, I Feel Fat!

                                             Mom, Everyone Else Does!

                                             Mom, Sex is No Big Deal!


Mercy Ministries,  Founded by Nancy Alcorn. Mercy Ministries’ is a free-of-charge, voluntary, faith-based residential program that serves young women ages 13-28, who face a combination of life-controlling issues such as eating disorders, self-harm, drug and alcohol addictions, depression and unplanned pregnancy. Mercy also serves young women who have been physically and sexually abused, including victims of sex trafficking. Using proven methods, a holistic approach and professional counselors in a structured residential environment, Mercy has helped thousands of young women be restored to wholeness.  Locations: Missouri, Tennessee, Louisiana and California. Books on relevant topics (Cutting, etc.) are available through their online store. There is a waiting list and an extensive application process.


Teen Challenge,  Faith-based residential, non-residential and drug prevention programs for teens, as well as adults. Programs are all over the country and in other countries. Offers a bible-based discipleship program to change lives. Separate boys and girls programs. Typical stay is 12 to 18 months. Offers year round schooling. Their adolescent centers help students overcome many issues haunting their past and/or affecting their judgment, whether it’s drug or alcohol addiction, abusive pasts, eating disorders, cutting, sexual promiscuity or any other inappropriate behavior.


New Beginnings,  Residential drug abuse program for adolescents located in Louisiana. Separate male/female residential complexes. Their campus ensures privacy and ample opportunities for quiet, personal reflection as well as structured activities and group interactions. Offers these programs: Detox, residential, partial hospitalization (PHP) and an intensive outpatient.


Books on Prayer:

The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian

Praying the Scriptures for Your Teenagers by Jodie Berndt


Dear God,  the issues these parent’s sons and daughters are struggling with often feels overwhelming, to everyone involved. Please help these moms and dads not give up. Convince them with You there’s always hope! Always.






Has Your Child Been Bullied?

October is Anti-bullying month. It’s a major problem in schools all over the country today. It’s huge. And now cyber-bullying is on the increase. This past week I listenedfrustration to a tragic story on the evening news about a teen who committed suicide because of how cyber-bullying had devastated him. How awful.

If your child has been the victim of a bully you know how terrible it is. You’ve seen what it’s done to them. You’ve ached for them, cried with them, worried about them and struggled over what to do.

As parents we want to protect our sons and daughters from every kind of pain. We’ll do anything in our power to shield them from the hurts of life. We’d rather be the one to suffer instead of them. If we could, we’d take their place.

If only we could.

According to a 2009 survey by the American Psychological Association (APA), “almost half of tweens and teens report suffering from stress symptoms related to being bullied: Headaches, problems sleeping and eating disorders are a few. Bullying may be the most prevalent form of violence in schools and is likely to affect the greatest number of students.”

It’s not surprising to hear that bullying can also lead to abusive behavior from the victim – sometimes they become a bully themselves – in addition to causing high levels of frustration, anger, sadness, personal suffering, addictions of all kinds and physical disease. I had no idea it could be so detrimental.

I’m not alone. Only ten percent of parents are aware their child is being bullied or that this is the cause of damaging symptoms they’re seeing. That breaks my heart.

If these individuals never receive any kind of professional help, reports show they can suffer in the following ways well into their adult years:

  • Problem-solving
  • critical-thinking
  • effective communication
  • creativity
  • confidence

My daughter was a victim of bullying in elementary school, but I never knew about it. She suffered in silence. Common to most victims, she believed it wouldn’t do any good to ask for help. Certain it would only make things worse she kept it a secret. Eventually, she suffered many of these symptoms and long-lasting effects.

But don’t despair. There’s hope for anyone who wants it.

If you suspect your child is being harmed in this way or has been in the past, take them to see a counselor.  Your son or daughter may not open up right away, but encourage them to give it a try. It can’t hurt anything. The sooner they get help, the better.

Are you not sure what else you can do? Here’s an excellent source of information to help stop bullying for both parents and schools. Together, we can make a difference. Check it out and if you like what you see go to a key administrator in your child’s school and talk to other parents. Change starts with us.

The Bully Project

The BULLY Project is the social action campaign inspired by the award-winning film BULLY. We’ve sparked a national movement to stop bullying that is transforming kids’ lives and changing a culture of bullying into one of empathy and action.  The power of our work lies in the participation of individuals like you and the remarkable list of partners we’ve gathered who collectively work to create safe, caring, and respectful schools and communities. Our goal is to reach 10 million kids or more, causing a tipping point that ends bullying in America. 

Dear God, please protect those who are being bullied today. Give them courage to stand up to the bully. Convince them they need to let someone know, that others really do care and that they shouldn’t stay silent. Then give the person they go to courage and determination to get involved. Give them wisdom to know how to help in the best way. Equip parents, school personnel and fellow students to defend and come to the aid of those who are being hurt in this way.  Amen.


How Can Parents Deal with Difficult Emotions?

Have you ever felt like your fears and anxieties about your child were getting the best of you? Did you wonder how in the world you were going to cope with the myriad of things you worried about? Maybe your child abuses drugs or alcohol, is a self-injurer, has an eating disorder, a same-sex attraction, a mental illness, struggles with suicidal thoughts, or is incarcerated. You’re a nervous wreck. Consuming every waking hour your sleep is also affected. What to do?

During a time when I was struggling with many fears for my daughter, I heard about making a God Box. It’s not my own original idea. I heard about it in an Al-Anon meeting and it was very powerful for 048me. This strategy helped me deal with my emotions of fear, worry and anxiety. It helped me trust God and let go a little more.

Here’s how it works:

When a Parent Needs to Love their Child at a Distance

Have you been caught in the middle of a storm with your son or daughter that feels like it will never be over? The phone calls in the middle of the night; collect calls from jail to bail them out one more time; repeated hospitalizations; endless medical bills; crisis after crisis. Have you found yourself in a situation where its really not healthy for you to be too involved in your child’s life anymore?

fall15Maybe they struggle with an addiction to drugs or alcohol (or something else); a mental illness or brain disorder, or with self-injuring behaviors (cutting or an eating disorder); a same-sex attraction; or are constantly in and out of trouble with the law.

You’ve done everything you knew to do. You’ve tried hard to rescue them, save them, change them and fix them – but nothing worked. You’re stuck in a never-ending storm. You feel like you can’t take it any more.

What do you need? (besides for your child to be okay) You need the serenity that comes from learning to love your child from a distance. Serenity isn’t the absence of a storm, it’s peace in the middle of it.

When Parents Need Help Recovering from a Suicide

Flowers growing out of the ashes of Mt. St. Helens

Flowers growing out of the ashes of Mt. St. Helens

September was Suicide Prevention Month. I know it’s October now, but I still wanted to share some great resources to help parents (or anyone) who is recovering from a suicide (or any death).  A dear friend of mine lost her husband to suicide a little over seven years ago. Her life has changed forever – so has her children’s. But as a result, God led her on a healing journey that resulted in her becoming a mental health counselor.

In this post I’m going to share her favorite books. Finding good resources to help with such a difficult grief isn’t easy. As Christians, we have a different world view that affects how we cope with death, but suicide is a horse of a different color.