Ask the Experts
My daughter has always been a good student in school, but this year she has really changed. Her behavior has been so out of hand that I just don’t know what to do anymore. We do have a good relationship, and good communication, but she’s just a different person anymore. What should I do?
Since you are writing to me through an anti-drug Web site, I wonder if you are thinking that your daughter is using drugs? Here is what I think might be helpful to you:
A. Changes in behavior and in school performance are signals that something is wrong. Often, that "something" is drug use. If you do have a good relationship, ask her about her life. What is working for her and what is not? Has she noticed a radical change? Does she miss her old self like you do? Communication is very important.
B. If you suspect drug use and find that your "good communication" isn’t good enough for your daughter to be honest with you about drugs, then you must find alternative ways to find out about her life. Can you talk to any of her friends, her friends’ parents, or her teachers? She is your child, depending on YOU to help her make the right choices. You must have all the information you need to help her. It’s your job as her parent to help her find future success and happiness, and to figure out what is happening to her.
C. If she is using drugs, she (and you) should have help from a substance abuse counselor.
D. If you have ruled out drugs, perhaps your daughter is suffering psychologically and needs to see a psychotherapist. If you need to choose someone to help your daughter (and you), make sure the therapist is someone you both believe can help solve your daughter’s problem. Ask the therapist if he/she has had experience dealing with your daughter’s kind of behaviors. If you need to, interview more than one therapist, because the right "fit" between teenager and helper is very important.
Alison Birnbaum is a Licensed Certified Social Worker who is a parenting expert in the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. She has a private practice in New Canaan, CT.
Parenting is tough. You want to do what’s right for your child but you don’t always know what that is. Need some advice?
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CTCADA offers both adolescent intervention and treatment programs. Education, individual counseling, family therapy, group counseling and referral to other resources are all part of a comprehensive effort to prevent or intervene in youth alcohol and drug abuse. Call us at 254-690-4455!
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