Dear Mrs. Bluth,
My husband and I are at our wit’s end when it comes to dealing with our three teenage children. To complicate the matter, our four younger children are constant witnesses to the breakdown of respect and lack of decent behavior leading us to worry that they will follow the path of the older ones.
I can’t even say when this started or even why, but I know that our two eldest sons – who are twins – began to change when they entered high school. The class they were put in has a number of boys who came from homes with little to no supervision. My husband has tried many times to speak to our boys, who are now fifteen, about their friends and they keep promising to stay out of trouble and away from these undesirable kids, yet it hasn’t happened. They get in trouble many times and don’t seem to care.
A few weeks ago while I was doing laundry, I noticed a peculiar smell on their clothes and, doing something I have not done because I am a staunch advocate of respecting another person’s privacy, I searched their room. I found some partially smoked marijuana reefers along with other things I cannot even bring myself to mention. I showed these to my husband who broke down and wept. At first, we thought of speaking to the principal of their yeshiva, but changed our minds because we don’t want them to be expelled. Thus we are at a loss as to how to proceed.
I mentioned three children we are having difficulty with. Our thirteen-year-old daughter has become completely impossible. Over the past year, she has become irrational, breaking furniture and destroying whatever she can when she is angry, culminating in hysterical crying and screaming fits. She was always a structured and goodhearted child, a bit of a type-A personality, and now she is a horrible and verbally abusive individual with whom we cannot reason. She goes to a good school and has good friends so we are at a complete loss as to what has caused this change in her.
Our home, which was once a happy and loving haven for all of us, has been completely turned upside-down. We are always warring with these children and no form of discipline or discussion seems to help. In fact, with the boys, it has gotten much worse. When we confronted them with what I found in their room, they threatened to run away from home. My husband and I realize that extreme measures may have to be taken, as we cannot seem to handle all of it. A great concern for us is that our children will be labeled rejects and it will impact all of our futures.
We desperately need help in understanding, if that’s at all possible, what has happened here and if there is any solution. Please answer as soon as you can as time is of the essence.
My heart goes out to you both. If it would be helpful for you to know that so very many of our teenage youth are suffering various forms of mental and emotional break-downs, I would share with you the ones I am familiar with just so you know you’re not alone. But I know this would bring you little or no comfort and certainly would not provide you with the answers to what is afflicting your own children.
Today’s kids are exposed to worlds they should not know about and are not ready for. Today’s kids are not kids. They believe, for the most part, that they are already adults in teen bodies and that they are entitled to be heard, their demands met and their actions, accepted without penalty or question. In their eyes, they are already emancipated adults who do not have to answer to anyone, yet still want to enjoy the privileges of being a child. At the same time, there are kids who cannot shoulder the immense pressure of large classes, tired teachers and the great expectations placed on them to achieve good grades and to have great middos. These children break under the pressure and lash out in various ways that affect them and their families.
I don’t know to which camp your children belong, as I have not met them, which is the same reason I cannot give you a specific approach on how to deal with them. I have not had the opportunity to explore the root cause from which each one’s anxiety stems and what suggestions would best apply to their issues. What I will tell you is that your twins are setting out on a destructive path.
You need to get all three of your children psychological help immediately, so that their individual needs can be analyzed and addressed, and a course of action can be determined and implemented. Don’t waste any time because each day widens the distance between success and failure in reaching your children and bringing them back.
There is hope that you will yet see your children whole and healthy. Teen years are the hardest time for kids to pass through and the gap between our generation and theirs is the deepest chasm through which they can fall.
Should you need further assistance with references or resources, please contact me and I will be glad to help.