Dave and Pam could feel the threads of their marriage wearing thin. They just couldn’t seem to agree on what to do about their daughter, Carley. They were already dealing with the tornado of teenage hurt and confusion she brought through the house every day, but things had got worse when Carley started experimenting with drugs and alcohol.
On top of two very different parenting styles, Dave and Pam fought every night about how to respond to Carley’s mess. Bail her out of jail again? Take away privileges? Put her in rehab? Dave thought Pam was too harsh and Pam thought Dave was way too lenient. How could they work together to save their daughter?
Does it Really Matter Who’s Right?
Dave and Pam had been working together just fine over the last 15 years, but for some reason, that cooperation suddenly imploded, creating an insurmountable wall. What can they do to bring things back into focus and keep their daughter safely on track?
Parenting a rebellious adolescent is, by far, one of the toughest jobs on the planet. When you throw substance abuse in the mix, however, it can start to feel impossible. Suddenly, even the slightest differences in parenting styles are exposed (and exploited).
Like any other parenting issues, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution or simple overnight fix. But if you’re parenting an addicted teen, the two of you have to get back on the same page and back in the battle against teen substance abuse.
The following tips are a great place to start:
Play to Your Strengths
Remember, differences in styles and methods of parenting can be a good thing. While it may make shared decisions tough, it provides the broader perspective needed to handle certain situations. Listen to each other’s point of view. Look for the value your spouse adds to the situation.
For example, your teen may know she can rely on Dad to listen without trying to fix, but she also knows Mom will be there in an instant to help with a practical solution to a problem. Remember, your teen likely values your differences…and you should, too.
Use each of your strengths to problem solve and support each other, as well as your teen. In the midst of a relationship-straining situation, talking these things through might even end up strengthening your marriage.
Keep the Boxing Match Private
Disagreements between spouses are inevitable, but presenting a united front to your teen is key. Discuss issues and work out solutions together – away from the ever-alert ears of your children.
Set aside time to talk, resolve your differences and come up with a plan to present your teen. If conflicting messages are sent, she may exploit the situation or simply feel less support. Work together; solidarity creates stability within your home.
Seek Help for the Whole Family
Often, parents are so focused on getting their teenager help that they miss the bigger picture. Yes, she needs treatment and rehab may be in order, but your entire family is affected by her drug abuse.
Everyone can benefit from some kind of treatment or therapy. Why not look into family counseling? If you and your spouse can’t work through things or present a united front, a strong marriage and family counselor can likely help mend family fences.
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