“When you grow up and have kids, I hope they act the same way you are acting right now.” Believe it or not, that is a curse that all parents can successfully place on their kids. From the moment they say those words, prepare to deal with a little version of yourself behaving badly or commit to not have kids.
Of course, you didn’t give the curse a second thought and now you are wondering who kidnapped your sweet little angel and replaced them with a disagreeable clone with a bad attitude. Take my word for it, your little angle is still in there somewhere. They are just going through some things that have distracted them from the behaviors you expect. This distraction couldn’t come at a worse time. They are in high school and in addition to keeping the grades up, getting that office in the club, being voted team captain and an impressive score on the college entrance exam; they are putting your plans for their college career in jeopardy. How can you get this straightened out in time to get things back on track? I know you don’t want to hear this but sometime, it doesn’t get back on track. That is not to say your child is doomed. They may just choose a different path from the one you had planned for them. In those instances, find out what their plans are and help them reach those goals. Both parent and child will be much happier.
That same formula is my suggestion for the situation of, “getting back on track”. Talk to that teen-aged stranger living in your house and find out where they are trying to go. More times than not, they are thinking college, but something has gotten in the way. If communication is the stumbling block, school counselors, friends, family or professional help may be needed. The key is discovering their direction and the driving forces behind it. Support can then come in a variety of forms. Simple encouragement, advice, classes, workshops, introduction to someone with more knowledge or any number of other things can keep your child moving toward their goal. Typically, teens will be focused more intently on the here and now. You will be able to help them see where the here and now might fit into an overall plan for success in a career. Just don’t push too hard… Few of us are comfortable moving at a pace that is set by someone else. To help you with this, try to remember when you were that age how the things you say would have been received. You may actually be able to make your parents curse work in your favor.