How to Support a Friend with a Troubled Teen

Having a troubled teen at home is difficult and requires support.
If you are the friend of a parent with a troubled teen, it’s difficult to know how to best be supportive and helpful. You don’t want to encourage enabling behaviors and you’re not a licensed counselor, but you also want to be there for your friend and help him or her through this difficult time. Being a support system is not always an easy task, but there are definitely things you can do to help ensure your friend doesn’t feel alone in his or her struggle.

Be a prayer warrior.

Praying diligently and fervently for your friend and their family is one of the best things you can do for him or her. Dealing with a troubled teen can be stressful on an entire family and sometimes after lengthy episodes, parents may even begin to lose hope. Don’t know what to pray for? Pray for peace and guidance for their everyday life. Pray for their troubled teen; that he or she would see the truth and grace that’s offered for them in a relationship with Christ. Pray for patience and wisdom for all parties involved.

Actively listen.

Chances are, your friend needs to vent sometimes. When your friend seeks you out to confide in you about issues related to their troubled teen, make sure you are actively listening – not just letting the words pass through one ear and go out the other. Hear what they are saying and process it instead of just piecing together a shallow response while they’re talking. Pay attention to your body language and make sure they know you are authentically engaging in conversation. A few body language tips:

  •  Lean forward while listening.
  •  Maintain eye contact.
  •  Relax. (Don’t be tense.)

Don’t say: “I know how you feel.”

Unless you have walk through the same situations, please, do not try and relate by saying that you know how they feel.  Doing so makes it feel like you are minimizing the pain they feel and the worry they have for their son or daughter.  While normalizing some situations can feel like the right thing to do, the truth is better.  Sometimes, we do not know what to say or do because we have not walked in their shoes.  Just be supportive of them and recognize their unique situation and experience.  

Encourage them to get help.

Sometimes when we’re knee deep in a mess, it’s hard to know when to ask for help. Don’t let your friend suffer alone in silence. There are many other parents struggling with the same issues and it would be incredibly beneficial for them to seek help and encouragement through those dealing with the same thing. Encourage your friend to get help resolving issues with their troubled teen. Mediated family counseling is a great option as well as support groups for struggling parents.

Remind your friend to keep their marriage a priority.

If your friend is married, remind them of the importance of bolstering that relationship in faith. Dealing with a troubled teen can lay additional stress on many aspects of family life, especially a marriage. Encourage your friend to rely on their spouse for support and courage while building each other up to stay strong throughout this time.

Encourage your friend to rest.

Time spent away from the stresses of dealing with a troubled teen is invaluable. Sometimes even just everyday life can be exhausting and time to recover is needed. Help them find a trusted family friend to help with the kids so they can get out for coffee or do some research together to uncover additional options like residential programs for teens such as Ozarks Teen Challenge.

Don’t give up on your friend. And don’t allow them to give up on themselves.

Parenting a troubled teen or acting as a support system can be tiring but you can’t give up. The bad decisions your friend’s teen is making are not their fault and there is no reason to play the blame game. Although it’s easy to place blame and throw in the towel, keep each other strong with weekly discipleship, prayer and the intentional pursuit of grace and forgiveness in their teen’s life.

Through all of it, remember that it’s never too late to turn to professional help. Let us help you or your friend mend relationships and family bonds with your troubled teen and encourage a life-changing new path with God. Visit our website or contact us today for more information.