Troubled Teen Help for Parents of Troubled Boys and Girls
Abundant Life Preparatory is a unique Christian boarding school for troubled teens. Our definition of a troubled teen is much different than most. Our approach to serving the troubled teen is just as unique. However, the purpose of this web page is not to discuss our approach as much as it is to define the term, "troubled teen". We want to take the time to clarify the term, and to define our version of what a troubled teen is, and how he/she became that way. To know what we are dealing with does just as important as knowing how to deal with it.
To us, the troubled teen that we refer to throughout our web site is really an "entitled" kid from a good family, a kid who appreciates nothing, disrespects his/her parents, refuses to take responsibility for his/her actions, blames others for his/her own poor choices, academically unmotivated, but motivated to do anything to gain acceptance by his/her negative peer group. More specifically, today's troubled teen is a monster at home, often yelling and screaming at parents and defying parental authority at every turn, but a great kid outside of the home. Yes, outside of the home the troubled teen is polite, respectful, and looks and acts like a normal kid.
To us, a troubled teen is not a thug, a thief, a gangster, a criminal, violent, defiant toward all authority, or any other description that describes someone with a mental disorder. When we use the term "troubled teen" we really mean to describe a "spoiled brat". We mean to describe a kid who has every possible resource available to make something out of him/herself, yet all they want to do is hang out with negative friends and "run their own show". We are referring to kids that have been blessed, gifted, and very talented but are wasting their God-given potential trying to emulate the latest rapper. This kid is only interested in how he/she is viewed by his/her friends, and cares nothing of their parents and how they feel.
The troubled teen that we serve comes from middle and upper middle-class Christian families who have good morals, good work ethic, principled, and are integral. These families have raised their children in good Christian homes, attending church regularly. But, about the age of 12 their child began to change. First came the rap music, then the clothes, and the hip language. Pretty soon all that used to matter is gone, and it has been replaced with defiance, anger, and rebellion toward parents. Today's troubled teen acts 8, and demands to be treated as if they were 30.
With these kinds of kids therapy doesn't work, it just makes them worse. Why? Because being a troubled teen is not a mental disorder, and therapy rarely works with kids anyway. Furthermore, this is a spiritual condition, and not a mental health issue. It is also an emotional immaturity issue, and not a lack of therapy. These troubled teens don't need a therapist; they need a sense of reality, they need discipline, and a sense of appreciation for the blessing they have. These kids suffer from the disease of "entitlementitis". Entitlementitis is a disease associated with prolonged exposure to unearned prosperity combined with numerous parental rescues. It comes from living in a society where everything is expected instantaneously, without effort. Entitlementitis can only persist in an environment where accountability is disregarded, and blaming others is always the "special of the day". Entitlementitis is the biggest epidemic since polio, and twice as devastating.
The main culprit behind the rapid spread of entitlementitis is the parent's prosperity. Parents across the nation work very hard to protect and provide for their children. They do such a good job that kids don't learn to struggle, to preserver, or to fail. As soon as a hyperactive kid begins to act out we as parents rescue him/her. We give them an excuse and call it ADHD. We take them to therapists, give them medicine, and then teach them that they don't have to work hard like the rest. In trying so hard to give our children the best of everything we end up rescuing them from the very thing that is supposed to bring about their growth and maturity. Then they turn on us. The bottom line is that American teens lack nothing, and do nothing to get it. When they struggle, we rescue them and bail them out. As parents, we are not alone as the whole nation is guilty of bailing out irresponsible people. It is pervasive throughout all of society.
We are a society geared on entertainment. Kids today demand to be entertained at all times and we give it to them. Young kids have it all, video players, Playstation 2s, CD's, DVD's and MP3's. We give them dance lessons, take them to Tae Kwon Do, and buy them anything they want. Unfortunately, by the time they are 12 they have no idea what reality is. They are never satisfied, and always demanding more. We are compelled to buy them happiness. If we think it will make them happy we give it to them. We want our children to be happy so bad that we are willing to destroying them to make them happy. We are taking all the pain out of life, the kind of pain that we all need to go through in order to grow and mature.
These kids need a wake up call. They need discipline, and learn to work hard for what they achieve. They need to stop making excuses, stop blaming others, and take responsibility for the quality of their own life. They need a dose of reality, and they need to grow up. They need to become considerate toward others, exercising compassion for those who are less fortunate. If you prescribe a drug or provide therapy and expect to overcome immaturity, you are fooling yourselves. They need to learn to wait, to serve others, and be trusted and become thankful for all that they have.