David loved his friends. It’s not that he disliked his family, he just loved to get out of his noisy, cramped apartment to have fun. One school night, David stayed out late.
His mom and sister trusted him, but this was unlike David. Not only was he late, but he wasn’t answering his phone. His sister worried, but it wasn’t until she called their mom did their mom even knew he was out past curfew. David’s mom worked until 11 p.m., and when she returned home after her shift, her panic set in. Calls to David’s friends went unanswered. Her ex-husband and other family members also had not seen him.
Well after midnight, David finally staggered home drunk.
This is a scenario many parents have faced, and they wonder what to do next. Often, when our teens feel lost or a sense of hopelessness, we do too.
At TreeHouse, a nonprofit on a mission to end hopelessness among teens, we work with teens every day to address feelings of hopelessness and help teens understand how those feelings tie to their actions and behaviors.
Hopelessness can lead to alcohol and drug use, depression, anxiety, bullying, thoughts of suicide, or withdrawal from loved ones. This year with more uncertainty and changes, many teens and their families are feeling an even bigger emotional strain. TreeHouse is here to help.
When you’re worried about your teen, what can you do? At TreeHouse, we start by reinforcing the belief that every teen is lovable, capable, worthwhile and has a future.
We connect teens to one another to share their emotions and talk about the issues that most impact their lives. It could be stress from schoolwork, the pressures of social media, or feelings of hopelessness over a friend moving away. We are a safe place for teens to express themselves and connect with their peers and caring mentors.
TreeHouse is here for teens 24/7, and we encourage parents to learn more our programs. And for the parents feeling lost on how to help their teen, here are a few pieces of advice:
- Provide the essentials: unconditional love, food and water, shelter and clothing.
- Continue to give him his previous responsibilities.
- Maintain a positive attitude, and if he cannot meet expectations, follow up with natural logical consequences.
- Understand who has the power. Your teen controls many important areas of life: attitude, hygiene, friends, school effort, values, their volume and their vocabulary, and even piercings and tattoos. You control your attitude, your actions, your volume and your vocabulary. You also control privileges — the use of your car, the internet password, and food preferences. You and your teen will find the greatest likelihood of mutual satisfaction when both parent and teen respect the interests of the other. Every person — parent and teen — is lovable, capable and worthy of respect.
- Don’t make statements you can’t enforce. Instead of saying, “As long as you live in this house, you will not drink,” say: “I’ll be glad to let you use the car, as long as I don’t have to worry about your use of alcohol,” or, “I will take you to detox, if you come home drunk.”
We are all lovable, capable, and worthwhile. It takes dedicated parents and a community coming together to end hopelessness among teens and set them on the path to a bright future.
TreeHouse is a resource for teens, a safe place to go and our message to parents and teens is you are not alone.