My Troubled Teen is Failing. What Did I Do Wrong?

Hello. I’m Ken Rabow. I am a life coach for troubled teens, unmotivated young adults and their families. Consequently, a great deal of my work is with students in jeopardy of completely failing their school year or Millenials and Generation Z’s now living at home, playing video games all day, who have dropped out. So maybe it’s best to say that I am a turn-your-life-around coach.+

Each time I meet with their parentsthe title of this article is the unspoken question in each of their minds, followed by what I imagine is even harsher versions of inner self-flagellation.

So, I am here to tell you parents that these particular types of students are simply highly gifted people whose talents do not catch on fire from the standard models. No therapy; micro-managing; freedom or meditative chanting: “go do your work!… go do your work!! …. go do your work!!!” will help.

In fact, what these young adults really need is someone outside their circle of friends and family to create a safe space for them to stop their whole world twice a week, help them take a deep breath, exhale their fears and self-doubts and look at where they are in their lives. Finally, asking themselves if they are truly ready to make meaningful changes in their lives. It works best with someone outside family and friends.  Think of all the people we have always had around us in tribes and families throughout all of time.

It is proved over and over without a shadow of a doubt that the parents have done great parenting when these young people show that they are now ready to consider empowering themselves in some positive, but alternative way. Just by considering it, their lives are put on a better path.

You have done your work. Loved them, nurtured them and allowed them the space to find their own path and guess what? Without a doubt, many of our most inspirational leaders were exactly these kinds of people; Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and many more. I wonder how their parents felt in the rocky school years.

The psychologist Rollo May explained that there were certain stages of development:
Innocence: the pre-self-conscious stage of the infant.
Rebellion: wanting freedom without understanding the ramifications that go along with it.
Decision: Deciding what to do with their lives and fulfilling the rebellion stage’s needs.
Ordinary: Conformity and traditional values (What? Your kid missed this one?)
Creative: Self-actualized, authentic and caring.

Not everything is supposed to be done inside the family unit. Its OK.
I shall leave you with a Rollo May quote:
Tell the child,
Look, I love you, I believe in you.
I know you are going through a lot of upset the only thing that counts
is that in the long run, you find out who you are and you live it

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Author: Ken_Rabow

Ken Rabow is the Mentor's Mentor for Troubled Teens, Young Adults and their Families