March 28, 2016 —

So much great work is happening these days to shine a light on over-the-counter (OTC) medicine abuse as well as other forms of drug abuse (I am including alcohol in this group). 

As a life coach/mentor for troubled teens, young adults and their families, I often come across these forms of abuse as well as the frustrations that parents have in finding ways out of the dead ends that this sort of abuse can present. 

The first thought that comes to my mind when working on these issues with my clients or the clients of the mentor’s I train is “misdirection”. What makes a magician successful is the same principal that makes it easier to deal with a child: Shift the audiences’ focus away from what you are trying to get them not to think about to something else. 

In the case of teens and abuse, it is finding something that gives them a different sort of “high” (often things they have been told not to bother with as it will never lead to a “good job”): Art; dancing; playing music; singing; meditation; prayer; pretty much anything that helps a person create timelessness or helps them lose track of time in a generative manner. Essentially, something that obliges them to create. This is the place that these young people are trying to recreate without realizing it. 

There are so many more subtle dynamics that are at play though, so even if you – as the parent – were to suggest that your child “go for it” with something that could replace their abusive choices, it probably wouldn’t work. Why? Because you suggested it! Let me explain why that is.

In our times, parents are expected to be all things to their children, which is neither logical nor advantageous to the child or the parent. Finding a mentor for troubled teens, young adults and their families can be key. A mentor figure can become a sounding board for non-judgmental assessment and action planning. The mentor can also help your teen learn from mistakes along the way, ultimately helping your child effectively move into the next phase of his or her life. 

I have seen many young adults come to me with all forms of abusive habits who, once given a unique way to find their personal, positive power, leaped (or, in some cases, cautiously inched) at the chance to see if their lives could actually end up “not sucking”. 

When that mentor suggests the same things that you have been saying over and over, but possibly in a different way, it is heard by your child with new ears. 

A good way to have a mentor work with troubled teens is through Skype (as opposed to in-office therapy). Why Skype? The computer is where your child goes to run away from the world. By having mentoring sessions in their rooms, on their computer, they will begin to see that this portal of escape can also be a window of opportunity in their personal improvement. It is very powerful for this generation.

To sum up, I would tell you to keep up your faith that your child will get through this. Seek out the right mentor for your family and share your challenges with friends and family who will support you non-judgmentally. Each time a parent shares their truth, we, as a tribe, uncover the hidden pains in our society and begin to heal. 

Ken Rabow is a sought-after life coach/mentor for teens, young adults and their families who has proven that it's possible for every person to achieve success in their personal and professional lives. With his book “The Slacker's Guide to Success", his many speaking engagements and contributions to media outlets including Huffington Post, Ken is creating lasting change in the lives of Millenials worldwide. With the 2015 launch of his Professional Mentor Training Program: World Wide Youth Mentoring Inc., Ken is now teaching others to become mentors for teens, young adults and their families to empower the millennial generation. You can connect with Ken on Facebook and Twitter.
 

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