You’ve tried everything, yet it feels like your teenager is spiraling out of control. You have no idea what your next move is, and you’re scared.
In my decades as a parent coach and relationship expert, I’ve heard this countless times from mental health to substance use, school refusal and more. Below are three stories of hope from parents whom I’ve worked with, and how changing their approach to parenting brought their relationship with their teenager back from the brink.
These stories address the most common challenges impacting teens today: addiction, toxic relationships, and mental health.
Katina first contacted me in April of 2021. Her son was about to turn 16, and he was very successful both academically and athletically. He was a fun, loving kid to be around until the pandemic hit, when his behavior started to go downhill. His sports were canceled, so his typical social networks and physical outlets were no longer available. He got in with a different crowd and started lying, sneaking out, and smoking weed.
Katina had been approaching parenting through a disciplinarian lens—she saw things in black and white with less focus on emotions, just as she was raised. She tried controlling him, grounding him, interrogating him…none of it worked. In fact, her son rebelled further. She was at her wit’s end and her teenager was out of control.
Katina enrolled in my Empowered Parent Mastermind Program, where she learned the relationship nuances and parenting skills we were never taught as kids. Over the course of the program, she realized she’d been repeating generational parenting patterns she didn’t even agree with! She learned to understand her son’s personality style and how to meet him where he was at, rather than expecting obedience and compliance from him.
Four months after completing the program, Katina messaged me. “He stopped lying, and he stopped sneaking out.” Although her son was still smoking weed, they were starting to have real conversations again without them becoming blow-ups.
Eight months after the program, her son was joking around with her and even hugging her in front of her friends! Can you imagine?
Ten months after, Katina’s son left his new friend group, went back to his original friends and he decided to stop smoking weed. He’d realized that smoking and hanging out with those kids didn’t feel right, and he thanked her for letting him come to that conclusion on his own.
She’d given her son space to develop his own values and beliefs and shown she trusted his character even when he was struggling. Her son learned to make better choices, not from fear of punishment or just listening to what his mother told him to do.
Let me be clear: I’m not an addiction’s specialist, nor will I make ridiculous promises about my programs. However, studies have shown that addiction can be avoided and reduced when teens experience emotional safety, meaningful connection, and a sense of belonging. My programs teach you what these skills are, with step-by-step tools and strategies to begin using them with your teen.
If your teen is experiencing a toxic relationship, it’s easy to vilify the other person (friend or dating relationship) and paint your child as the victim. That perspective, fueled by anger and fear, feels more powerful yet it’s covering up the solution because it saves you from having to look in the mirror.
Your teenager is in that relationship for a reason—they have unmet emotional needs they’re trying to fulfill.
Foundational needs like emotional safety, a sense of belonging, and feelings of meaningful connection at home. That doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent! It means acknowledging that vilifying the “toxic” person in the relationship won’t support your teen to leave them. You can’t control your teen to come home. You can only lead them back home.
One parent in my program—I’ll call her Marsha—shared her son was in a toxic relationship with a girlfriend. Ever since he started seeing her he was lying, sneaking out, and experimenting with drinking. Her husband was going ballistic, so she enrolled in my program and begged him to trust the tools and try this different approach.
She did everything in her power to make her son feel seen, heard, and trusted in their home, and know they loved him no matter what. Eventually, he felt safe enough to share about his girlfriend without fearing judgment from his parents, talking about what he liked and didn’t like in the relationship.
Marsha listened without interruption and normalized his feelings, thanked him for sharing, and eventually, she led her son home. He broke up with his girlfriend on his own and started focusing on schoolwork again. Not because Marsha and her husband were dictating or trying to control his behavior. It was love, encouragement, and support—a truly meaningful relationship—that had led him home. And his dad has a better relationship with his son because of this!
Sally (name changed for confidentiality) came to my program when she was already at her wit’s end. She and her husband were both raised in high achieving, militant families where you did what was expected, or else. Her daughter was now 15, her son 12, and they weren’t living up to her perfect standards anymore. Their grades were slipping, and they kept trying to avoid attending school.
In the mental health module of The Empowered Parent Program, Sally realized there might be more going on. She discovered depression ran on both sides of the family, and both children were diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD).
As a result of this discovery and the tools she learned in the program, Sally completely shifted her parenting. She learned to be her daughter’s ally at school and prioritize her daughter’s mental health over achievements like grades. She taught her daughter to listen to her body and express what she needed.
Over time, her daughter developed healthy mental health care strategies that worked for her. Now she knows if she says, “I’m having a really bad day,” Sally won’t diminish or judge her, or coerce her to attend that day. Instead, Sally supports her strategies to feel better no matter what. After 5 months, her daughter is regularly back at school and connecting with friends, with managed mental health and the right medications.
Sally did a complete 180 on her parenting style.
She made the courageous and vulnerable choice to release control and use my proven strategies backed by science.
If your teenager is out of control… and you’re feeling scared and out of options, you’re not alone.
If you’re wondering, “Is this my life now?”, “How did we get here?”, or “Is this as good as it gets?”, click below to register for my FREE masterclass and learn my 3 pillars for creating an honest, connected relationship that lasts a lifetime, WITHOUT having to be a perfect parent.
Parenting is hard. You don’t have to do it alone.