It can be scary for a parent to see their teen struggling in a post-pandemic world. While we’re still trying to figure out what the long-term effects of the pandemic will be on teens, what we’re seeing right now are symptoms consistent with social anxiety, generalized anxiety, depression, substance use, and self-harm. Basically, our teens are struggling even more with their mental health, and this puts an even greater strain on parental relationships.
As parents, it’s difficult to know how to help and support your teen during this difficult transition, and this can definitely put strain on the relationship between parents. In the face of such uncertainty, it’s important to try to get on the same page with your parenting partner and approach the situation together.
As you and your co-parent make your way through the maze of parenting a struggling teen in the post-pandemic world, consider working through the following tips to help when you and your partner are parenting a troubled teen:
- Ask questions without assuming. A big struggle for teens is wanting to feel heard and validated and told that their experiences are real. It’s important that you listen to understand and not listen to respond or assume that you know what your teen is really thinking.
- Look deeper. It’s easy to get caught up in the consequences of what your teen is going through- poor grades, isolation, moodiness, irritability. Remember, these are mostly likely results of a deeper issue. Focusing on the surface issues or the problem behaviors will only cause your teens to get defensive.
- Offer support, but don’t force it. We all know teens don’t react well when they’re being forced into doing something. Offering support and reminding your teen that support is available whenever they is a more effective way to get them the help they need. This way they will feel like they have some say on what their support system looks like- this is especially important since during the pandemic they probably felt like they had no say in anything at all.
Parenting a troubled teen can be overwhelming – even more so if you and your parenting partner aren’t on the same page. If you and the other parent can remember and gently remind each other to ask questions without assuming, look deeper, and offer support without forcing it, you may be able to better help your struggling teen without putting too much strain on the parenting relationship. If you and your partner are struggling to find common ground, a relationship coach might be able to help – don’t hesitate to reach out.