Teen Therapy Center Blog

"I don't like what my mother-in-law says in front of the kids. What should I do?"

No one wants conflict within the family—especially when you are all living under one roof. So what do you do when there’s a disagreement between family members? This week’s Tips On Teens question comes from a parent who wants to talk to their mother-in-law about problematic behaviors, but isn’t sure how to:

“My mother-in-law has been staying with us during quarantine. She grew up in the 40s, and still holds many views my husband and I do not agree with. The longer she is here, the more I worry that our kids (all middle schoolers) will parrot her beliefs. I want to call her out, but she’s also my mother-in-law, so I don’t want to create a rift in the family. Is it appropriate to pull my kids aside and just talk to them about her?”

 

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"My daughter is getting mean texts from her so-called friend. What do I do?"

How do you balance respecting your teen’s social independence while making sure they’re respecting themselves? Is it your job as a parent to give input on who they hang out with? Today’s Tips On Teens question comes from a parent who’s trying to look out for their daughter without micromanaging her social life:

“I saw some really mean texts from my daughter’s ‘friend’ pop up on her phone. The texts were about her weight and her looks. To me, they sounded like the words of a bully, not a friend. But my daughter brushed me off and said it’s fine. I don’t want to be controlling of her social circle, but I am genuinely concerned that this ‘friendship’ will hurt my daughter in the long run. What do I do?”

 

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"My ex keeps bad-mouthing my wife in front of our kids...What can I do to stop it?"

How do you talk to an ex about their behavior around the kids? This week’s Tips On Teens question comes from a parent wrestling with exactly that. We’ll be discussing how to respectfully approach your ex with an issue and strategies to make co-parenting smoother for everyone involved. Here’s the question:

“My ex-wife and I divorced 4 years ago. Our kids spend the week with me, and the weekend with her. Recently I re-married to a wonderful woman whom I love and-most importantly-whom my kids adore. Here’s the issue: my ex-wife won’t stop bad-mouthing her in front of the kids on weekends! My kids told me about this when I picked them up and I am very frustrated. My ex denied saying anything when I asked her about it. I feel angry and stuck…what can I do?”

 

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"Our family has been heavily impacted by the news and the protests. Are there any small daily things we can do for our family’s mental health?"

In this difficult social and political climate, many families are feeling weighed down and stressed out. It can be hard to find ways to cope with our reactions to the news, especially for kids who are not sure how to process what’s happening. For this week’s Tips On Teens question, we’ll discuss ideas for how families can stay connected and take care of each other right now:

“Our family has been heavily impacted by the news and the protests. It’s hard not to feel angry and hopeless. My kids in particular are overwhelmed and worried and I wish I could take that pain away for them. Are there any small daily things we can do for our family’s mental health? I just want to get us through this dark time.”

 

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"My kids won’t stop arguing and it’s driving everyone in the house up a wall!"

If you’re raising siblings, the sound of arguing is probably a familiar one! And while the occasional fight is normal and expected, nonstop fighting can put a strain on everyone in the house. Combine argumentative teenage siblings with stay at home related cabin fever and the result is one very overwhelmed family. This week’s Tips On Teens question is from a parent wondering how to bring peace back into their teens’ lives:

“My kids (14 and 15) will NOT stop fighting and it’s driving us all up a wall. They’re constantly bickering over any and every little thing. Everyone keeps saying they’ll outgrow it eventually, but honestly I don’t know if our family can take it anymore! What can we do to make them get along?”

 

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"Wearing a mask triggers my anxiety. Am I alone in this? What should I do?"

By now, wearing a mask when you go out has become a part of life. News and social media are flooded with reminders to wear a face mask and do your part to reduce the spread of COVID-19. However, sometimes the need to don a mask brings up discomfort and (valid) anxiety. This week’s Tips On Teens question is from a parent having a tough time adjusting to the new normal:

“This is more about me than my kids. I hope that you don’t mind talking about this. I am embarrassed to say that I hate wearing these masks for quarantine.  I understand their importance, but I feel like I am suffocating when I have it on.  I hate leaving the house now, but I have to so I can get groceries and such. It also brings up a lot of anxiety for me.  I can’t see other people’s faces and it freaks me out.  Everyone on Facebook is posting about how important it is to make the sacrifice and have pride in wearing the mask and I want to. I feel so alone about this.  My teenagers dismiss my worries and I don’t think it is appropriate or fair to burden them with the history of my issues. Is anyone else struggling with this?  What should I do?”

 

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"I heard my son saying inappropriate things while playing a video game. He says it’s just part of gaming culture—I'm not so sure."

Video games can be a source of stress relief, bonding time, and just good-natured fun! But sometimes there are aspects of gaming culture that don’t mesh well with parents’ household rules. This week’s Tips OTeens question comes from a parent unsure how to respond to their teen’s gaming:

“Yesterday I overheard my son yelling some really inappropriate things into his headset as he was playing a video game. Swearing once or twice is fine in our house, but he was going beyond that. We didn’t raise him to talk like that and it made me really angry and sad to hear him say such hurtful things out loud! When I talked to him about it he brushed me off and said everyone says that stuff while playing and that it’s not a big deal. Am I overreacting?”

 

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"We had to cancel our son's Sweet Sixteen party. What can we do to make sure he still has a fun birthday at home?"

Teens and their families are having to miss out on major milestones because of COVID-19: prom, graduation, and birthday parties, to name a few. And while our kids are handling the situation with understanding, as parents we still want to celebrate these important moments, even if it’s on a smaller scale than planned. This week’s Tips On Teens question comes from a parent looking for advice on how to make sure their son enjoys his sweet sixteen, despite the lack of a party:

“My son’s 16th birthday is coming up. Originally we had a huge party planned with all his friends invited, but that had to be canceled. He says it’s fine but my wife and I think he’s putting on a brave face so as not to make us worry/sad. We know he was really looking forward to it. We’re planning on having a small celebration with just the three of us instead, but I’m afraid he’ll only see what is missing. Any advice on how to make the day fun for him?”

 

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"My son is struggling to finish his college semester back home. How can I help him?"

For many college students, COVID-19 meant leaving school and moving back home for the last semester. And while learning on campus has stopped, exams and coursework haven’t. The switch from being in a structured academic environment to being stuck at home can pose a challenge for even the hardiest student. So what can parents do to help? This week’s Tips On Teens question is from a family wondering how to support their son as he wraps up his college semester:

“Like so many other college students, my son is home now trying to finish his semester. He hasn't been doing well. He seems depressed, can’t focus on his work and is in danger of flunking this semester. He’s usually a great student. We try to help, but he just gets mad at us. He lies in his bed and scrolls through his phone all day. He’s 20 years old and was living independently before quarantine. I feel like taking his phone away is treating him like a child. What do we do?”

 

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"My daughter just had her first breakup...What do I say to comfort her?"

Breaking up is hard to do…at any age! For teenagers, especially, the end of a relationship can often feel like the end of the world. During such an emotionally vulnerable time, it’s important for our kids to feel supported—but how do you do that without coming across as out of touch or annoying to your teen? This week’s Tip On Teens question is from a parent wondering how to comfort their daughter after a difficult breakup:

“My daughter just had her first breakup….and she got dumped via text. Naturally she’s really upset. It breaks my heart to see her hurting like this, but whenever I try to talk to her about it (there are other fish in the sea, etc.) she says I don’t get it and shuts herself up in her room. Am I doing or saying something wrong?”

 

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"I found cannabis in my daughter's room. What do I say to her about this?"

Every year at the end of April comes a certain unofficial holiday for many teens: 420. This is a nationwide day of celebration for cannabis culture enthusiasts, a category which (whether we parents like it or not) often includes our teenagers. This week’s Tips On Teens question is from a mom seeking advice on how to talk to her daughter about possible 420 plans in a non-confrontational manner:

“I found a hidden stash of cannabis in my daughter’s room while cleaning the other day. I don’t know where she got it, since she’s only 15, but I am afraid she’s been sneaking out of the house to smoke it. And with 420 coming up, I have a feeling she has plans that don’t involve staying at home...I don’t want to start a big fight, but if I also definitely don’t want her going out with who knows who to do drugs AND risk being exposed to Coronavirus. What the heck to I say to her about this?”

 

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"Is it possible to start or maintain therapy given what is going on right now?"

For many teens, mental healthcare is more important than ever right now. This is a confusing and difficult time to adjust to, and therapy can be incredibly helpful. But…can you see a therapist without leaving the house? This week's Tips On Teens question is from a parent wondering what therapy looks like when you can’t go outside:

“My daughter asked to start seeing a therapist, but then Coronavirus and the Stay at Home order happened. I still want to help her find someone but do not know how to do that without leaving home. Is it possible to start or maintain therapy given what is going on right now?”

 

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"My husband is immunocompromised—how do I talk to my kids and ex about this without starting a fight?"

For families with loved ones at higher risk for COVID-19, social distancing is of the utmost importance. But what can you do if the whole family isn’t on board with staying in? This week’s Tips On Teens question tackles how to effectively communicate one’s needs in a blended family dynamic:

“My husband is immunocompromised, so we’ve been very careful about interacting with others during this time. Here’s the issue: my ex-husband has taken our kids out to social events at friends’ houses pretty much each week since the quarantine has started. It’s his time with them, and I want to respect that, but I’m worried that the kids might bring something home from these outings. We really can’t risk my husband getting Coronavirus but I also don’t want to start a fight with my ex about this. How do I bring up my concerns to my kids and ex?”

 

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"How do we set boundaries on screen time when school has switched to online learning?"

Now that most schools have closed and moved classes online, parents and kids alike are experiencing new challenges as they adjust to learning digitally. This week’s Tips On Teens question is from a family wondering how to uphold their limited screen time rule for their daughters, while still giving them enough space to complete their homework:

“We have a limit on phone/laptop time in our household. Our kids (2 high schoolers) both have phones and laptops, but we ask them to primarily use their electronics for school work. We fought about it A LOT in the past but finally seemed to hit a middle ground. Their school switched to online learning, so now both girls are at home and on their phones/laptops ALL day. We know their school is giving homework digitally so they will need their devices more than usual, but we’re worried the girls are using this as a way to ignore the household limit on screen time. How do we bring this up without it turning into a screaming match??”

 

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Thoughts and Advice about the COVID-19 Pandemic from Your Friendly Neighborhood Therapists

Dear Families of Teen Therapy Center and Child & Teen Counseling

Information about COVID-19 is changing daily, and I've been spending a lot of time thinking about how this is affecting our society, both long term and in the immediate future. Many parents are wondering what they can do to help their kids not go crazy while they're home from school. Now that it has been a week since the dreaded closures, plus the new "Safer at Home" order, many parents are wondering, "How long is this going to last?  And how am *I* going to last?!"

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