How to help teen


We have a teen who is very rebellious. He does little work, and is surly or mean to his bros and sisters. His schoolwork is B/C.

At his part-time work, he does exceedingly well in things like customer service, is helpful and friendly. He has won awards for this!

Overall, he has poor self esteem, and feels like a victim.

We have little to offer in the way of positive incentives or things for him to work toward as we have struggled for many years.

He is NOT into drugs drinking, sex, or pornography.

Although we try to start each day to create a peaceful home, we struggle with insecurity and constant tension. Almost every day, we end up fighting with our teen to do work, or to stop picking on his bros or sisters. To make it worse, the other kids will pick on him and frankly, sometimes you can’t tell who is lying.

When confronted, our son pushes any argument to the point of anger, is not humble, and often criticizes us for how we do things. I do not see any openness in his attitude.

We attend Mass, and pray daily. We live a more rigorous spiritual life to try and live the faith.

How can we help our son? (we cannot afford counseling). we cannot seem to reach him.


As a former rebellious teen, I feel obligated to give you some advice … but I’m coming up blank! How independent is your son? I’m very independent (stubborn!), and I had to work thru all my teenage angst on my own. My parents did put me in counseling, but it only made me rebel more. Your son and I sound quite similar (although I’m sure I was much worse), so at least I can offer that there’s hope? I’ve since moved on past my teenage years, graduated college, gotten the full-time job, converted to Catholicism, and have found the man I’ll be spending the rest of my life with. My mom and I have patched up our once very troubled relationship and we enjoy spending a lot of time together (she let me move back home to save money :rolleyes: )!

You sound like you’re providing your son with a lot - the Mass, an active spiritual life, and the fact that you’re looking for help here tells me that you really care about him. In the back of his mind somewhere, he knows all this. It’s a great sign that he has a job and is being received well by coworkers - that indicates his attitude is more than likely a rebellion against his parents instead of against the world. Being able to function in society is a good indicator that he’s not getting into too much trouble - once a teen draws away from everyone/thing that’s when I’d start to worry about more serious issues.

You mentioned that he’s “NOT” into drugs, drinking, sex or pornography - how confident are you that you can say this so emphatically? If he is (and I’m not saying he is, merely spitballing ideas here), the fact that he has to hide these actions from you may be contributing to his unresponsiveness. Again, I’m not suggesting he is doing these things, but he might have somethings that he’s not telling you about.

Some questions you may already have considered: What about your sons friends? Do you like them? Do you know them? Do you talk to their parents (not in a “I’m checking up on my son” type way, but a “we see each other at Church and chit-chat” kind of way)? Is he involved in any extracurriculars at school? Sports? Drama? Have his teachers seen a change in his behavior?

I don’t know what the best way to deal with your son may be, because when I was between 13 - 18 there was no good way to deal with me! I hate to tell you you’re in a lose-lose situation, but sometimes I think parenting (I’m not one yet, so this is all speculation) is a lot of holding your breath and allowing your children to fall (hopefully not too far!) and letting them learn to pick themselves up. Like I said, if your son’s still doing well at work and he isn’t failing any classes at school - he’s probably not getting into major trouble and that’s good. Just stick by him and let him know you love him! Sorry I can’t offer any concrete advice, but I will pray for you and your son, that you both might come out of this with a stronger relationship than you have right now. Feel free to PM me if you have any specific behavior questions.

God Bless!


Well, I live in Canada, in a fair sized city. There are tonnes of free resources for families and teens to access, for just this type of problem…counseling included.

Check within your community, city services, charitable organizations, at the hospitals, outreach centres, boys and girls clubs, children’s aid societies etc…


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