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Tianna Dougher

Professor Courtney
Position Paper
October 21, 2015
Are parents to blame for their troubled teens behavior?
Society has sent the message, loud and clear, that parents are responsible for their child's
behavior. The definition of a responsible parent has changed over the years. Responsibility to
feed, clothe, shelter, and love your child was the old days. Today you're held responsible for how
your child behaves, what he says, what he looks like and how he turns out (Tracy, Jean.) There
are many ways that society puts blame on parents. James Lehman once said Parents are not the
problem- they are the solution. This stands true, we should not be pointing fingers blaming
parents for their childrens behaviors, but rather finding ways that they can help.
Some may say that parents have a responsibility or duty, to teach their children how to
act, how to be responsible, how to deal with conflict, how to maintain relationships, how to deal
with defeatetc. And when a teen isnt doing these things correctly, it falls back on the parents.
As all these things hold true, what about those parents that are doing it all right and still have a
troubled teen. I am not here to say that some parents out there are not abusive or neglectful, I am
referring to those parents that are doing the best that they possibly can and still have a struggling
child.
Most parents are doing everything that they can to teach their children the right things
and love them along the way. Andrea Seay states that Parenting is difficult. It is not an easy
task. Parenting does not come with instructions. Awareness and teaching of positive or good

parenting can be achieved. Equipping parents with the necessary tools to engage in positive
parenting as needed is a necessity to possibly prevent child abuse and its devastating effects,
(Seay, Andrea.)
As parents can have a really big impact on a childs life and how they choose to respond
to different situations, it is not entirely what makes up a childs behavior. Sometimes these
children are viewed as rebel children, but Jen Hatmaker makes it very clear to Look at your
child as being lost. Not simply rebellious. Not horrible. Not defective. Just lost and needs to find
their way. You, as their parent are there to help guide them, instruct and nurture. You have no
idea everything your child has experienced. You may not know why he/she is behaving the way
they are. There might be something that happened to him/her when you weren't there to cause
them to act the way they do, (Hatmaker, Jen.) There are many other factors such as peers,
teachers, expectations and self-worth, in which parents dont have control over. Proper parenting
can help in a big way, which is why parents can become part of the solution. Parents are the
solution because they spend the most time with their children; they create the environment their
children live in. They are the primary role models because their children spend the most time
with them. The family is the center of a child's life. I believe that if parents get the proper
training on how to be more effective, and they're willing to use those techniques, then they're
going to have children who can solve their developmental life problems effectively, (Lehmam,
James.) They are not the reason for the problem and society needs to stop placing the blame on
these parents who are doing the best that they can.
An example of how parenting is not the sole reason for acting out teens/children are
siblings. As a family of four kids who were raised by the same two parents, with the same rules
and discipline strategies, how does only one kid have a problem with anxiety, depression,

withdraw, violence or OCD? This goes to show that there is only so much that parents can do to
help guide their children, before it becomes the childs own.
Parents feel that it is their duty to help their child get help. As this holds true, how do you
help someone that doesnt want help? Some teens are either set in their ways, have tried
unsuccessfully to get help before, are too embarrassed to get help, or merely dont see that they
have a problem to begin with. Sometimes throughout society we try to force people to get help
that really arent interested. You cant force a teen to go to therapy and open up to someone if
they dont have the goal of improvement or change to begin with. Many teens with such
behavioral problems, have given up on help. They have tried to internally face these problems
with individual coping skills. When they see that it isnt helping, they seek for family help.
Anything outside of family tends to become somewhat embarrassing to reveal to the outside
world that you have a problem that you cant fix. So many of our teens are physically broken in
their minds and hearts, and the magnitude of their hurt completely overwhelms their capacity to
overcome on their own, but instead of a chorus of support, their families receive silence or
judgment or disappointment which compounds grief and lays a heavy yoke on those who are
already suffering, (Hatmaker, Jen.) These teens need support and love, not judgment and
criticism.
Theres been a growing trend of blaming parents for a childs behavior. Whenever
theres a tragedy or a child behaves in a way thats dangerous, harmful, irresponsible or wrong,
people always ask, Where were his parents?! (Abraham, Kim.) Particularly those parents with
kids who are struggling with poor behavior choices, have taken this to heart, internalizing and
often blaming themselves. The guilt eats them away and only becomes worse as others point it
out as well. When pointed out by others on bad parenting, it is natural for these parents to go into

defensive mode. This defensiveness comes from trying to prove to everyone around them, that
they are not a bad parent. The isolation that then begins to occur causes a parent to feel alone in a
battle that feels as though it cant be won. They have taught their children all of the right things,
loved them unconditionally, and the child still has anxiety problems or depression or is
withdrawn from society? They begin to feel that their childs wrong behavior puts them at fault.
This feeling of guilt causes these parents to feel responsible for their child acting out and begin
to question where in their parenting that they went wrong.
As you can see, many children/teens are faced with many different things in some of the
most key years of their lives. It is the parents responsibility to teach their teens good life skills.
Parenting is not an easy task, there are other factors in a childs life that makes them behave the
way that they do. It is not the parenting in all cases because how else would you explain of
siblings from the same parents having problems. Sometimes your teen just doesnt want help,
wants to be alone, or doesnt see the problem. Once a parent has done everything they possibly
can, loved their child and tried to help them, but nothing seems to work, the guilt starts to kick in
and they wonder where they ever went wrong. But the answer is nowhere. Sometimes you can do
everything you possibly know how to do and your teen will still be the way that they are. This is
not for us to blame the parents, and it is certainly not for the parents to blame themselves.

Works Cited
"Jen Hatmaker - On Parenting Teens That Struggle..." Jen Hatmaker - On Parenting Teens That
Struggle... N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.

Tracy, Jean. Do You Blame the Parents for Troubled Teens? Parenting News. Kids Discuss,
n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.

Abraham, Kim. "Parents of Troubled Children Are Not the Problem - They Are the Solution."
Empowering Parents. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.

Lehman, James. "You Are Not to Blame for Your Child's Behavior." Empowering Parents. N.p.,
n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.

Seay, Adrea. "Positive Parenting." Ebscohost. Nursing Forum, 1 July 2014. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.

"Teens' Mental Disorders Often Untreated in U.S., Study Finds." Consumer HealthDay. N.p.,
n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.