Parenting a Teen, Preteen, or Young Adult

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Male Therapist for Parent of Teen (East Bay)

Jan 2013

I'm the single parent (no ''ex'') of a teen who has addiction issues. My teen has been in treatment and is getting lots of support. I take part in the related parent group, but of course the limited time is shared among many parents. So I am looking for a therapist. I am an aging Boomer, and struggle with acceptance of the outcome of my life, including some grief centering on parenting, letting go of hopes and expectations for myself, my child, etc. My wish list includes a male therapist who is warm, smart and who understands addiction AND adolescents. A good sense of humor would help, too. (To those who would suggest Alanon: I have checked out a number of meetings/locations. Haven't found any with mostly parents of teens and didn't find them helpful.)

I'd like to recommend Bruce Nemirow, Ph.D., whose office is in North Berkeley. My son saw him regularly while in high school. I have also seen Dr Nemirow for issues regarding my son, as well as for myself. Dr Nemirow's manner is warm and he is a good listener. He is thoughtful, supportive and has a sense of humor, but best of all he follows up with ongoing issues, which has really helped me grow. He can be reached at 510.524.2082 ext. #2. W

Need ''Parenting Specialist'' therapist familiar w/ teen issues

Sept 2012

Hello, Seeking recommendations for a therapist extremely skilled in parenting issues. It seems there used to be one name mentioned often on BPN, but of course I didn't pay attention b/c daughter was sweet back then. She is now a junior in HS, and I've reached the end of my rope. Seeking a skilled professional well versed in teen/parenting issues who can help me through this. Thanks for any & all recommendations. Nothing but negative/hatred from daughter

I highly recommend Joshua Coleman, who helped us with similar issues: We're all in it together
Michael Simon in Oakland is amazing with teens. This is his area of specialty. He just wrote a book on the topic as well. I suggest you look him up. anon

Therapist to consult with as parents of a teen

Aug 2012

We are looking for a therapist to consult with about our teenage daughter. She is a wonderful kid, in most ways incredibly together - bright, social, athletic and mostly happy. Her peers look up to her. She is social at school but doesn't have a good number of close,one on one friendships. She has an intensity about her that can be experienced, by peers and her parents alike, as slightly controlling and just ''too much''. As parents we would like to understand what is going on with her and how we might gently and subtlely learn some things to help her help herself. We wonder if we had a few sessions with the right therapist we might be able to gain a better understanding of what compels her and how we might help her without hurting her feelings or confidence. Any recommendations for a therapist that knows teen issues well but could meet with us as parents would be helpful. A UBH provider would be even better. Thank you. Parents wanting to help

We found Amy Friedman LCSW (near Piedmont Ave. in Oakland) very helpful regarding similar issues with our teenage daughter. She is experienced and down-to-earth and very good at communicating with parents. I don't know if she takes UBH, though. anon

Single parents of teen group?

March 2012

I am looking for a support group for single parents of teens. I need help from other single parents who experience our unique issues of raising teenagers by ourselves. Any ideas would be helpful. Single Mom

Hello- I am in a single parent's support group which is GREAT! We are looking for new members. At this time, we are meeting every other week @ 6:30pm in Berkeley, and the fee is $35.00 per session. Rikki, the Therapist, has many years of experience and is very supportive. If you need more info, please email Rikki @ rsudikoff [at] Hope this helps. Sharyn
Rikki at the Jewish Family and children Services is the best. I've worked with her for years in a group setting and she is wonderfully insightful and caring. Find her at: Been there
I work for a fantastic local agency that offers a Single Parents of Teens Support Group. The moderator is Rikki Sudikoff, LCSW--she's absolutely lovely and creates an amazing, warm, supportive atmosphere among the group members. And she's full of great advice--I've gone to her several times for input about my own kids! I think you'll find the group to be just what you're looking for. Rikki can be reached at (510) 704-7480, ext. 761. Good luck! Holly
I can recommend a single parents of teens group at Jewish Family and Childrens Services in Berkeley on Thursday evenings. It is facilitated by Rikki Sudikof who is very insightful when it comes to understanding how teens think. Another Single Mom
Rikki Sudikoff guides a wonderful group for single parents of teens. I was part of one for three very difficult years with my teen, and I credit Rikki and my group-mates for the fact that I still have my sanity. Rikki is warm, skilled and experienced as a therapist who works with adolescents, so she has a lot to offer in terms of explaining teen development (or lack thereof). I highly recommend contacting her: (510)704-7480. Her office is at Jewish Family & Children's Services on Shattuck in Berkeley. My teen is crazy; I don't have to be

Support Group for Single Parents of Teens?

Dec 2011

Does anyone know of a local support group for single parents of teenagers? I'm really feeling the need for support and building some community around me as I deal with issues in raising my teen on my own. Thanks!

I belong to a support group on Thurs. nights at Jewish Family and Children's Services in Berkeley. It is run by Rikki Sudikoff, who is great and knowledgeable about teens. I highly recommend it. Single Mom of Teen
I'm wondering whether you are a parent raising your teen completely on your own or are divorced. If you are divorced, I offer support groups for divorced moms, and I would be happy to talk to you to see if my current group might be a good match for you. Unfortunately, I don't have any groups for solo moms of teens at the moment ... unless there is enough demand to start one up again. For more information on my practice: or feel free to call me at 510-528-9551. Yvonne Mansell, MFT, yvonne [at]

Need a professional for parenting advice

Sept 2009

Help! Is there a parent-of-teen-support group out there (East Bay)? AND do you know of a good professional to whom I can go for more ''structural'' advice on how to set parameters for my daughter on dating, discipline, privacy, etc.?

When my daugther was a baby, then a toddler, I read ''all the books'', and felt pretty intuitive about parenting during the ''easy'' years (ages 5--13); my daughter truly was very easy and we were extremeley close.

Now I have a 14 year-old and I am clueless--about dating, discipline, privacy, etc. And for the first time, she and I have fought, where my sweet girl has morphed into a vampire teen and screamed about how much she hates me. My daughter has met a boy she likes and wants to go out with him. I don't know what the parameters of behavior should be. She is in the early stages of all this and has shared with me that she and this boy have kissed twice (at a camp). Today she wants to meet him ''to walk around'' (Bay Street, 4th Street, Shattuck, she's not sure yet). They may meet at a mutal friend's. Aieee!

I am divorced, do not effectively co-parent with my ex (we never talk), which was okay when parenting was easy. Now the stakes are higher. I don't expect to have a more effective relationship with her dad. I need the support of other parents and/or professional parenting help.

Please advise! Thank you. Very clueless and a bit scared

Dear Very clueless and a bit scared:
I have been there! We belatedly found Coyote Coast which offers one on one mentoring to teens, teen group therapy, and family therapy. Both my children, 16 and 20 are participating in this program and I highly recommend it. We just got back from a very productive family therapy session when I read your e-mail Their offices are in Orinda, an easy jump off the freeway. Call Alex Georgakopoulos, LMFT Admissions Director & Family Therapist alexgeorgakopoulos [at] ext. 1 or (510) 333-4144
Mother of daughter with extremely troubled adolescence
I would recommend David Heckenlively, MFT in Walnut Creek. His website is We are members of a support group that is ongoing for clients who use his services. Our daughter needed extra help thru the teen years that included residential treatment. Some families are able to manage a ''home'' plan, but most end up at least having the teen go to a wilderness program. anon
A good book is ''Get out of my life but first can you drive me and Cheryl to the mall?'' Also a bit of reassurance - your daughter's behavior is completely normal and age appropriate. The fact that she has told you she kissed a boy already and is telling you where she is going is indicating a very good relationship. She could do all these things (and more) without telling you and you would never know. At this age, you are transitioning more to a ''consultant'' relationship rather than a ''boss'' - she's developing her life skills in handling situations and making choices herself. I like to think of this age as the terrible twos - push/pull all the time. It seems that the closer a mother/daughter are when the child is little, the harder the daughter may need to push to separate. By all means get the support you need and set limits - but trust yourself and her, you will figure it out. btw, love the expression vampire teen, will have to use that. parent of 16 year old girl
I could be the mother of the boy your daughter likes! Probably not, but our stories are very similar. My son is 14 and has had several ''girlfriends'' with whom he texts and meets to walk around downtown. I think the girls usually are with a friend (a good rule for girls at this age) and sometimes my son meets his best friend and they do things as a group.

Being the mom of a son is much different from being the mom of a girl (I can only imagine, since I have two boys), but I have similar concerns. I've found talking with other parents gives me a better idea of what to expect and how to approach my sons. There are some good books on parenting teens, but I don't have time to read!

The other thing I've done is talk quite openly about my expectations about his behavior with girlfriends. We've had lots of 'sex talks' so he knows how everything works and what my values are. He doesn't talk much, but I do! I even bought condoms to show him how they work, all the while telling him he wouldn't need them for a long time! I bet there are some on-line places we can go to get support, too. I'm so busy I don't think I could fit in another regular meeting. Thanks for bringing this up! Another concerned mom

Bananas is trying to put together a resource list for parents of teenagers and parents in step-family situations and would like to know of resources so they can share them. They are at 5232 Claremont Avenue, Oakland 94618. Phone is 510-658-7353. Website:
Yes, there is an active parents of teens support group in Berkeley that is moderated by an LCSW who specializes in teen issues. The group meets on Tuesdays from 6:30 to 8pm at the offices of JFCS/East Bay in downtown Berkeley. Please call Rikki Sudikoff at (510) 704- 7480, ext. 761 for more info. Holly
As a mom of a teen, I would like to recommend a therapist I know, Fran Wickner. She is straight forward and has worked for years with parents and teens. Her number is (510) 527-4011 and her website is her name, Sarah

Looking for support group

Oct 2008

Does anyone know of a support group in Berkeley area for parents of teens? I have a 15 year old that is a classic teenager 101, and I would love to find a group to share ideas and get support. anonymous

I offer a support group for moms of teens (in Albany). The current group is full, but I am willing to start another series with other moms of teens. The current group meets once a month as everyone is so busy, but more frequent meeting times are also possible. We discuss current challenges, consider different approaches and perspectives, bring in insights from books, and find community and support. Cost is at the rate of $30 per session, usually in a series of 3-6 session, and can be continued. I have facilitated groups for almost 20 years and love what happens when you bring people together who have very similar experiences, who can exchange ideas. Feel free to contact me for more information. Website: Yvonne Mansell, MFT

Seeking parenting skills class or support group

August 2008

My two teenage girls are, on the whole, doing okay - I'm the one who's a wreck. I have lost all faith in myself as a parent and a person. I see all my failings (my kids are very quick to point them out and they are often right) and I can't seem to fix what's wrong; I have repeated all the mistakes my parents made that I swore I wouldn't repeat. I'm afraid I'll estrange my kids the way my mom and I became distant. I wish I had taken parenting classes or sought a support group when they were little, but I feel like I have to do something now or I will truly fall apart. All my friends seem to be coping with their teenagers much better than I am. I am in therapy but need something directed specifically to my life as a parent, which is eating me alive. Can anyone suggest anything? Needs help, please

Dear Struggling Parent: It sounds like you feel such despair and longing for the confidence and competence that perhaps you enjoyed when your girls were younger, and understanding and meeting everyone's needs seemed a relatively simple matter. It sounds also like you are most urgently concerned with yourself, and restoring your strength and confidence. I would like to suggest that you try a class called Parenting From Your Heart, with Cathy Bucher, a wonderful and compassionate trainer in nonviolent communication. Introductory 2 hour class on Sept 5 and again on Oct 3, in Oakland.

Groups meet in Oakland, Lafayette/Walnut Creek and are led by adolescent specialist Michael Y. Simon, MFT, high school counselor, noted speaker/ educator and psychotherapist in private practice. Michael will outline specific, research-based parenting approaches to help you feel and be more effective in supporting your teen in their school, social and home lives. The meetings will also include ample time for parents to share their experiences with each other, to receive feedback from Michael and to get support for doing the world? hardest job. Please note: this is not a therapy group. TO REGISTER OR FOR MORE INFORMATION: Call Practical Help for Parents, (510) 433-2959; visit us on the web at

I did not see the original question, but wanted to let parents on this list know about a support group I am starting for moms of teens, meeting monthly in Albany. Ages of kids roughly between 14-18. I am a licensed therapist, with about 20 yrs experience facilitating groups. Feel free to contact me for more information or other resources: Yvonne
You might have gotten other information already, but I'm not sure if you had seen this advertisement a few weeks ago (it's offered a few times per year):

''Survival Skills for Parents of Teens''

Alameda Family Services offers a FREE parenting class for parents of adolescents (both middle school and high school ages).

A 9-session class, spanning from Sep 18 - Nov 13, 2008. Thursday evenings, 6:15 - 7:45 pm. Held at Alameda Family Services, 2325 Clement Avenue, Alameda, CA 94501. The class is limited to 12 parents/families.

To register, or for more information, please contact: Robert P. Mejia Prevention Specialist Alameda Family Services - School Based Health Centers 210 Central Avenue Alameda, CA 94501 510-748-4085 x3135 RM

Frustrated with teen, worried about my growing anger

May 2013

Hi BPN, I have a problem & I hope this wise group can help. I have a 14 year-old daughter with whom I am growing increasingly angry and resentful. She is a great kid--her teachers love her (for the most part), and other kids' parents always tell me how wonderful she is.

The trouble is, I am growing increasingly annoyed with her and need to find a way to improve things. She is a typical teen--her room is a disaster area at all times, and when I tell her she needs to clean it before she can go out, she will do the bare minimum (hide dirty clothes in the dresser, etc). She does not complete all her assignments on time and makes excuses (none of the other kids are doing IXL!), and if she does do work, she literally does the barest of minimums--I beg, cajole, suggest, etc. and still her papers are of the quality that could be written by a fifth grader (I'm not exaggerating). She loses things constantly (I just got a bill for $130 worth of lost library books), and does not help with household chores, pet care, etc.

My efforts to set firmer limits are complicated by the fact that I have ADD and struggle a lot just to keep a handle on my work and our household. I have tried setting firmer limits, but she is lawyerly and always finds a way around them--which wears me down and exhausts me. I am at my wits end, and have started blowing up at her because I am so frustrated by her failure to help or attend to her own responsibilities. She divides her time between my house and her dad's, which complicates things (her dad is completely checked out and has no idea what is ever going on with school, etc. and she has no chores there either).

Does anyone out there have a helpful solution? I finally snapped this week and sent her to her father's for an undetermined length of time because I just could not take it any more. I have limited funds and cannot afford expensive family therapy ($40/week at most).

Thanks for your insights... Wits' End

I recommend reading books by Mike Riera,, especially ''Uncommon Sense for Parents with Teenagers.'' He's amazing with teens and really ''gets'' them. Your daughter sounds pretty normal in my experience - breaking away from having supervision and constant oversight.

It is hard and terribly frustrating for the parent so I recommend you save your own sanity and peace as much as you can. Pick your battles. Good luck. Been there, done that

You need a set of rules and consequences with her that involve minimum effort on your part. You need to have them developed ahead of time, written down, and ideally mutually agreed upon. Then, when something goes wrong, you point to the list and say, sorry, it's the rule, nothing I can do.

The minimum effort part is key -- then there's no argument to have. Things like, if your dirty laundry doesn't make it into the hamper, I can't wash it. Then when she's out of clean underwear, you say, ''sorry, must not have been in the hamper. Nothing I can do.'' When you get the bill for the lost library books, you say ''If you can't find the books, I have to use your allowance to pay that bill until it's all paid off. Sorry, nothing else I can do.'' Stand firm, and say it, in the same calm tone of voice, as many times as needed -- say the same words, in the same tone, over and over. It's essential not to explain it or fix it for her. She gets it. Dirty clothes or no allowance won't kill her.

With my son, we had a similar issue with schoolwork (he had a bunch of D's and F's mid-semester). In his case, we took his cell phone and computer away, telling him they were clearly interfering with his academic performance. There was all kinds of fuss about ''I can't let you know if a friend is coming over.'' (Sorry, guess your friends can't come over then), and ''I don't have my computer to do my assignments.'' (Sorry, guess you'll have to write them out by hand). His grades were all B or above by the end of the semester.

You also make it clear that her father has his rules, and you have yours. When she is at your house, she will follow your rules.

It would be ideal if you could sit down together sometime when you are both calm, explain that you have a problem and you need her help, and work out the rules and the consequences together. Sometimes this works really well. But with some kids it doesn't; in which case, just show them to her, explain them, and then follow them.

If this is overwhelming, you could pick just a couple at a time (start with the things that bother you the very most), and add on a bit at a time. Karen

It sounds like your child has ADD, too. Perhaps she can't so some of the things you are asking of her without more support. You may have to help her get organized and educate yourself more about teenage ADD. Good luck Mother of an ADD teen
I really empathize with what you are going through. My son had an extremely tumultuous adolescence, and it was very hard on me. Now he is 22, doing great, and we have a great relationship.

You said you ''need to find a way to improve things.'' I think if you focus on improving your relationship and interactions, and not on improving her then things will improve. You need to pick your battles.

First, forget about her room. Just completely shut the door. But, if you have been doing her laundry, then stop. She can and should do her own laundry at age 14 and will deal with her dirty clothes when she needs something to wear! Second, consider forgetting about her schoolwork. I feel a bit mixed about this cause the logical consequence of high school students not doing well is that it affects their college options, which is a long way off, and I really think they are not developmentally ready. But we have a great community college system if she really blows it!

As far as chores, etc, can you try to tie it to some privilege? Like if your chores are done at the end of the day you get your cell phone the next day, otherwise I keep it. Or if your chores are done all week, you get to have a sleepover. Yes, this is like a sticker chart for toddlers. Try to be as emotionless as possible regarding this. Sit down with her and explain the new system--tell her you don't want to yell at her but you want her to be responsible. Let her give her input on what chores she should do and what the privileges granted should be (but you decide!) This is a good time to tell her she can leave her room as messy as she wants--she will feel like that is a win.

Don't let her corner you with last minute demands/requests--I found those very tough--if she does that, practice saying, ''I need time to think about this so you should have told me earlier--now the answer is no--next time tell me earlier'' or ''you chose to put off your chores, so you can't go. I'm sorry you missed this super duper fun outing with your friends.''

I realize the library fine is just one symptom of a bigger picture, but here's what I would suggest. If you give her an allowance (and I think you should), take half away each week till it is paid back. But as a preventative measure, don't let her use your library card. If she has her own and has fines, she won't be able to borrow till she pays it off (unfortunately if it is the school you will be on the hook, then it is back to the payments over time!).

Easier said than done. I am not proud of the way I handled my son's teen years, so I also want to reassure you that blowing up from time to time is not going to ruin your relationship forever. best wishes

You're daughter sounds very similar to how my daughter was. I'm a therapist who specializes in working with teens and their families, but I was at a loss with my own teens. My daughter also had a ''lawyerly'' attitude so everything was an argument. It was exhausting. You mention in your post that you have ADD. From your description, I wonder if your daughter does as well. That was one of the issues that we discovered was a factor. We also had her tested for learning differences and while she is exceptionally bright, her performance in school was similar to what you're describing and she did have some learning differences. If your daughter is very oppositional she may insist that she's ''fine'', despite testing and diagnosis. (Mine did, so refused most help.) You also have the additional issue of separation or divorce from her dad and you say that he is ''checked out'', which also may be a factor. I would suggest some ed. testing and an ADD/ADHD screening. Then you will at least have an understanding of what you're dealing with even if she refuses to use any resources that could be available to her. If she's a verbal kid, therapy with someone that she connects with might help. If you choose this, have her see a few therapists so that she can choose the one she feels most comfortable with and make sure that they have experience with this kind of teen. You're a consumer and should ask as many questions as you need to so that you feel comfortable with the therapist as well. Groups are also a great modality for young teens since they are so into their peers. When I work with younger teens I also will have parent/child, family sessions, whatever I see as appropriate since there are generally upsets in the family, just as you're experiencing and also what my family experienced with my daughter. My daughter is now 21, living on her own, and our relationship is much better. She'll still try to engage me in fights, but I am much clearer with boundaries and it's much easier to be loving when you're not confronted by lost assignments and dirty clothes constantly. Things will improve! Jan
I am eagerly waiting to hear responses. I am so sorry what you are going through, it is not unusual at all though. Lots of teens are like this. The complicating factor of 2 households does complicate school work, and I don't have advice on that. Sorry.

The chore thing has worked for me in that my daughter now is in charge of the dinner dishes, which includes emptying the clean dishwasher. What I like about it is, there is no negociation. There is a time to do it, after dinner. She knows when that is, and she actually does it. I have to admit, she doesn't do all of them, it seems like there is always some pot on the stove that is missed, but I'm keeping it positive and thanking her every time with no critiques on the workmanship. If she forgets something, I just do it later. If she eats else where, she doesn't have to do the dishes. It has helped a lot. She hates being asked to do any chore, so the this takes that aspect out of it. We are coincedently now getting along really well now too.

Her room is still dirty, and I still check power school all the time, but at least this is a start. Good Luck!

Yes it is frightening. I am going thru that with my 14 year old boy now. It's been described to me by my therapist as a time of testing. Trying to find out where the limits are, and it sounds like your daughter doesn't have many. I struggle with the limit setting as well. Here's what I have been trying, with some improvement in his behavior and attitude.

1. Choose your battle carefully. I have focused on only 2 things that I can manage. One is a daily chore (take out the garbage) and limiting Internet time. Eating in his room and eating late at night are 2 that I can't manage just yet.

2. Write it down. He is too good at talking/arguing/badgering/bullying that I am not willing to engage him in discussions on these selected behaviors that I'm trying to foster. For each day that I take out the garbage, he loses 2 days of Internet time. No discussion necessary. I write it on the calendar. I leave him a note with the info. I do not talk to him about it beyond the basic facts, which is about a 1 minute statement. This has improved things tremendously. Talking about the rule wears me down, and I end up feeling manipulated.

3. Do not punish to cause harm or shame. Kids are smart and sensitive and want to do good. There are moments when my son and I can connect and I get a glimpse of his feelings. My goal is to be on his side AND move him along the path I feel is best. It's tough.

4. I sent my son to therapy for a while. I wasn't convinced it did much for him. I think it's better for ME to go to therapy, to get the support I need to get thru the day! I think if my mom had gone to therapy, my childhood could have been just that much better. Anon

Feeling resentful about teen's academic & social failures

May 2013

Are there any support groups, and, if not, any therapists interested in starting one, for families of underachieving, acting out teens? My daughter just can't get her act together academically and socially despite my trying a myriad of approaches for years. Starting in elementary school and now while in high school: social skills groups, classes/lessons to support her musical talents, tutoring/mentoring, meeting and communicating regularly with her teachers in school, finally starting medication for ADHD a few months ago, offering therapy, etc.

I am on an emotional roller coaster-feeling good when it looks like she's turned the corner and is managing things better, then feeling quite down when she lets her grade slip from an A to a D and she says she has to time to bring it back up. (BTW, there is no pressure to get As, Bs and Cs are great.) It's at the point where I feel like I am making most of the effort and very little is coming from her. At times I feel like I'm being had and feel incredibly let down and resentful. It's hard to feel loving and be generous when there is so little effort on her part. She feels my disappointment is not justified, minimizes where she has fallen short of her responsibilities, and often has a rather skewed perception of reality.

I know there are support groups for families with kids in programs, but what about families on the cusp? Not severe enough issues for a residential program, yet unrelenting academic and social issues. Anything? Another reason a support group appeals is because it's hard hearing about my friend's kids' successes as well as seeing other difficult kids get their act together, while my child continues to struggle.

Responses that include recommendations, shared experiences, what you've found helpful, etc., will all be appreciated. Thanks. Nearly tapped out mom

I agree, there is little to nothing out there for parents and teens ''on the cusp.'' It is a tough place and we have navigated it for 19 years. I too wish there was something. But i can offer this: Our college son has ADHD and a touch of dyslexia ( mitigated quite a bit with tons of work in elem. school) and while it is never smooth sailing, it is getting better. There were many times that we were tapped out, end of rope, etc. He pulled some doozies. But know you are not alone by a long shot. Stay the course. You are in fact almost at the good part. & I can share that my guy is now a soph. in college and is doing OK. He is so proud to be at CU Boulder, a big state university, his top choice. He does get some accomodations, like extra time, non-distracting testing environment. ( We applied for these ourselves, a bit of work but no too bad, schools seem pretty used to this). So far has to drop at least one class each semester for various reasons. He has to put a lot of time in to get a B average, but is starting to see the benefits. Freshman year was touch and go grade wise and otherwise.Textbook last minute, play now work later ADHD. It continues to be infuriating, in a lot of areas, but we are now at age 19 1/2 seeing growth. He has had a few nice solid relationships and has had a job after school in HS & every Summer for 4 years and even works a little at college. We also see other kids he knows dropping out, coming home, etc. So we feel lucky and a bit wary. It was not any one thing that he, or we did. But I guess we just kept at it. We are hard core against all substance abuse & continue to be a pain in the butt, much to his dismay. We supported his areas of strength like skiing and art( he is a design major). He is growing up, taking pride in his accomplishments. I'll bet your daughter will too. Hang in there. Vicki
Kaiser Richmond has a social skills group called the Young Teen Group. It is an eight week program. It ended a few weeks ago but will begin again when more people sign up. Some topics include: making friends, dealing with bullying and communication. Sherri

Teens are unhappy, critical of my parenting

March 2013

My family is divided. They don't seem happy and I don't know if they ever will be. I have two kids, 17 & 20. They are not speaking to each other. They are both critical of each other & both equally critical of my parenting. It's a stretch of time almost devoid of joy. They have two loving, doting, hardworking parents, albeit seperated. They have been educated, fed, clothed, entertained, protected, understood and adored their entire lives. Though no kid remembers their childhood, I do remember always being an advocate and solid support through all the many stages of their development; sports teams, field trips, summer camp, parent volunteer, vacations to beautiful places - you name it. Now there is no way to recognize the enormous amount of effort we put in to their security and happiness. I want to mend my family. Does it get easier/better naturally? We would consider family counseling, and have been each to see our own therapists in the past, but presently our insurance is limited, as is our income. We have great doctors, supportive friends & family. Parenting babies, toddlers, kids and preteens was a breeze compared to parenting these age children. A happy future is hard to see. Wants to be Happy!

Happiness, is an important emotional state, but generally even if people are happy with their lives, they usually are not happy all the time.

My advice is it sounds like your family has ''squabbling, communication'' issues, not so much ''divided''. You have to be together at some level just to argue or criticize.

I am not minimizing how unpleasant this is as a way of life, or your needs, as we grow older I seem to think finding balance, internal and external is even more pressing.

Fact : not all siblings are buddies. Some siblings really never get along.

My suggestion: Accept your children for who they are right now. Look to yourself, and find your own happiness, model happiness in your behavior, speech, and life at all times. Have no expectations whether they will express any appreciation for your efforts, since it is possible they will get worse before they get better.

Look at your budget and see if you can cut something out you do not need: vacations, movies, new clothes, coffee out, food out. Unless you are already at ''bare bones'' the money may be there to pay for counseling for the kids, just the sacrifices may require you to give up some of the things that give you relief from their attitudes and bickering.

Some kids fight as children and become closer as adults. Some siblings never ever talk to each other when given the option. If they are doing things that are physically threatening to each other or you then you are obligated to seek professional interventions until they leave your residence and reach legal age.

Raising kids is a really hard job. Hats off to you for asking for support. Keep looking. The Bay Area has many options. The hardest thing will be figuring out what you can do, what your limits are, and what they need to do on their own.

Conflict resolution courses, self help strategies may be a good way to start. You do not have to be perfect at it, just make progress. Good luck another mom

I wish I had an answer for you but in fact I am in a very similar boat although I am divorced and a single parent. I hope someone has some answers!! You are not alone. where did I go wrong?
To the parent with the 17 and 20 year olds missing happiness-- I know exactly where you've been and it is horrible, sad and hard. What your children are doing right now isn't your fault. When my son started acting out after his father and I split up (my son had a childhood similar to the one you describe for your children), I wanted to take responsibility for what he said and did rather than expecting him to take responsibility for his actions that were hurtful, bad for our family and bad for him. If I could go back in time and speak to my broken-hearted self who missed that loving sweet boy that I had known and nurtured his whole life, I would say- you get to set some boundaries around behavior even when they're all grown up. You get to say the way your sons are acting toward each other or you is not okay- You expect more from them than that. I think the hope for happiness comes after you insist on respect. In our case, my son is now 23, I finally took my own advice, and we are happier now. Been there, done that in Berkeley

Dealing with the stress of living with a teenager

July 2007

My daughter is chronologically a pre-teen (almost 12), but biologically and hormonally pubescent. I'm a single mom by choice so there's no other parent on alternate weekends, let alone at home. I am already finding dealing with the mood swings and absent-mindedness extremely stressful, and I know I am not handling it well. Nearly everything I have to say to my daughter is a correction or criticism and I'm on the verge of tears frequently. That's obviously not good for her or for our relationship. On the other hand, if I had a roommate like my daughter, I'd move. Can anyone recommend particularly helpful books to help me get through the next 6-plus years? Better still, are there any support groups? L.

Oh I feel your pain!! My daughter is 16!! I'm single also, but get breaks. Breaks are good. Better than books even! I can't recommend a book or a group, but I get through it in several ways: I talk with friends who have the same age children and commisserate (it helps), I go to therapy for myself periodically, we have gone to therapy together too (art therapy was great!!), and I try and take lots of deep breaths without hyperventilating! She will be like this for a while. Patience is a big factor as is being semi-detached about certain things for getting along with your teenager. Reminding yourself of this all the time is good too! When you talk with her, sometimes you have to be an ear only. She will talk to you more about what's going on with her as the years roll on if she knows that you are not going to judge her or criticize her after she's said her piece. You are balancing on a tightrope now

You have to be her friend, her mother, her jailer, and her escape partner! What I mean by that is sometimes you will need to rein her in to make sure she's safe and healthy, and other times you will have to be the one she can escape her crazy teen-age life with by going on a fun adventure together. You will have to be there when she's a mess and crying and doesn't know what to do because she's had a fight with a friend, and you will have to figure out the right thing to say to help her keep going. You also have a take a lot of gruff!! (That's the not-nice part. That's when detachment can come in handy.) I swear this period has been the HARDEST part of raising a child, for me at least!

But I try to keep an open mind, and change when the situation calls for it. I apologize when I've not done something the best way I could've and next time do it again differently. I look at this as a growth period for myself too. I don't think of myself as ''finished'', life has much more to offer and for me to learn from, even my daughter! Try to eat well, and get excercise. Don't let the stress build up. Teenagers are very sensitive and can feel all of our stuff too.

Make some basic rules for the house, start slow and repeat yourself like a broken record for the next 6 years! Sometimes I have to laugh at the whole thing too!! My daughter had it hard from 12-15 and now she seems to be have a better sense of herself. We get along great for the most part. I totally admire her. She's smart, sensitive, beautiful, and funny. She's also a slob, she walks as fast as a snail, is late, and talks back to me sometimes. But hey, we're not perfect, ever! living breathing mom of a living breathing 16-y.o. daughter!

Good for you for reaching out for support. I think it is the key to making it through. My daughter went into the teenage dark side at 12, emerged again when she was 14, and now, at 16, is a pleasure. If you had talked to me when she was 13, and told me that I would say that 3 years later, I would have laughed bitterly and never believed you. Now my son, at 14, is starting to descend, and I'm bracing myself. But have faith, they do come back. It was actually your roomate analogy that prompted me to respond. I used to say that all the time. I think one thing that helped me immmensely was having close friends to whom I could really vent. No need to hedge with ''of course I love her, but...'' They knew I loved her, and were fine with me letting out the rage I frequently felt and calling her a bitch (which is exactly how she was behaving...) When the kids were toddlers, we could all bond in the park over tantrums and picky eating. But with teens, parents seem to be not so close anymore, or afraid to really talk about what is happening in their families. So build your own support group if you can't find one.

Another thing that helped was learning to bite my tongue, intensely. It got so that we would have car drives with no words spoken fairly often. It was better than some innoccuous comment from me setting her off in some mean or negative direction. Music is good -- you are listening to it together. Actually, cultivate any activities you can do together that do not require talking. When she is ready to talk, of course you drop everything to listen and talk back. But sometimes, silence is golden.

There's a book by Micheal Reira we found very helpful, Uncommon Sense for Parents of Teenagers. The info is good, and the tone is very grounding.

Good luck. These are heavy lifting years for parents, but you and she will get through them together. anon, of course

I want to appreciate the wonderful responses so far. I remember that when I was 17 my parents were the most irritating people in the world, and it took me 20 years to get past that. This past year we've struggled with Events

Involving Really Bad Teen Judgment by my son (a junior), and our ineffective attempts at consequences and reasonable restrictions like curfews. My husband was upset to think that we were bad parents/citizens, but reassured after he checked in and found that almost all parents he knew have had even more grief and conflict, from teens we'd least suspect of it.

Our family therapist acknowledged our outrage that our son was an obnoxious slobby roommate with misplaced feelings of entitlement, making stupid mistakes (like not studying or getting enough sleep or handling his money well), and not a dutiful child mirroring our values. He also pointed out that our son's mistakes hadn't involved the police or personal injury or pregnancy or substance abuse, and that our son's grades (while slipping) and his health and potential were still excellent.

We took a deep breath and shipped him off to be away from us for 8 weeks, to live at a dorm and take summer college classes. It has been a wonderful thing for our son to be on his own, and clearly the right thing for all of us. He loves his big new world. He can be polite and cheerful in his infrequent contacts with us; we can be more accepting of his autonomy and confident of his safety. We're hoping that this will help us all survive his senior year together. another parent holding on

Boy, can I relate! I have a 12-year-old teenage too, and she's made life so stressful I sometimes feel like crying, too. You can find online support groups for parenting teens.

I love to read and have found these books that are helping me get through this phase (oh, gosh, 6 years?!) These should be available at the public library.
Get Out of My Life, But First Would You Drive Me and Cheryl to the Mall? When We're in Public, Could You Pretend You Don't Know Me? Ophelia's Mom: Loving and Letting Go Girl in the Mirror Why Do They Act That Way? (great book on the way teenage brain development leads to behaviors) Don't Give Me That Attitude! 24 Rude, Selfish, Insensitive Things Kids Do and How to Stop Them
I admire you for asking for support. Hang on. We'll all help each other get through this. Nancy

Reflections on my daughter's 18th birthday

Jan 2006

My daughter turns 18 this month and this has occasioned some reflection on my part about the task of being the parent of a teenager. She is my first- born; I still have a 15-year old son to fret over, so my work is not yet complete. But 18 is something special, not just another birthday.

As I have thought about the past five years (or more? she was certainly a teenager well before she was 13), the metaphor that sticks in my mind is that being the parent of a teenager is like delivering them all over again: the awe, wonder, joy, sense of accomplishment, and deep, overwhelming, all- consuming adoration of this new human being are all as fresh as they were 18 years ago. But there is also a lot of pain and a certain amount of blood on the floor.

As I\xc2\x92ve read through the \xc2\x93Parents of Teens\xc2\x94 entries over the years, there have been times when I\xc2\x92ve been smug and arrogant\xc2\x97what\xc2\x92s wrong with these people? We don\xc2\x92t have problems like that, why don\xc2\x92t they just do it the way we did? And there have been other times when I have felt guilty, hidden, and alone: surely no other child has been as you-name-the adjective (deceitful, lazy, thoughtless, messy, mean, etc.), and no other parent has been as helpless, as ineffectual, as bewildered, heartbroken, or betrayed by the actions of the child who came out of her own body.

To all of you who have shared this journey with us and especially to those who are still delivering: the fact is that most of these children survive being teenagers and most of us parents do too. The path is never what we expected or imagined, and many of our children will not be quite the people that we thought we wanted them to be. But they are also far more than we ever dared to hope and dream in so many ways. Mostly, they are a gift and they are a labor.

To my daughter (and you know who you are), I would like to say that you have always been and will always be the light of my life. I carried you in my heart long before I found the right partner to allow to be your father and I will carry you in my heart long after it stops beating, and yours stops beating, and your father\xc2\x92s and brother\xc2\x92s and children\xc2\x92s stop beating. You are a magnificent person\xc2\x97full of flaws, full of feeling, still becoming, but also, already, magnificent. Fly free, my child, fly free and high and be only as afraid as you need to be in order to be safe.

But first, turn off the TV, do your homework, finish your college apps, and clean your room.

Happy Birth Day and much love, from your mother. anonymous