PARENT EDUCATION: Caring For Your Teenager

By Rev. Dr. Ron Barnes, LSW
Executive Director

Teenagers face many challenges. Teen life has become more complex and vulnerable over the past 10-15 years. This is largely due to illegal drugs and social media. The teen mind is very vulnerable to experimentation and now it has access to an entire market of danger, both physical and emotional.

Illegal drugs are more accessible and teenagers are prime candidates for drug dealers, especially in suburbia. One of four families in Allegheny County is affected by addiction. The earlier a child is exposed to these substances the higher the likelihood of addiction issues for that child as a teen.

Social media has also created another intense vulnerability for teenagers. Instant access is available even through a cell phone. This has led to increased exposure to pornography and early access to purchase whatever is desired, including unhealthy products. Social media has also been used to bully and destroy reputations by starting false rumors creating horrible emotional hurt, pain, and depression.

As a result of these influences the life of a parent has also changed considerably over these same 10-15 years. Parents of teens need to be more aware of the possible dangers and complexities their son or daughter may be involved through the excitement of experimentation.

The importance of consistent communication is clearly needed to create an ongoing conversation about daily life and involvements. Teens can be very private and block communication through avoidance, being overly active, spending too much time in their room, always being on devices, etc. Parents need to burst through these avoidance patterns and talk face to face at regular intervals. A teen can quickly get into some serious and dangerous situations.

In discussions with several teens, I asked them to share warning signs that you should be aware of in assessing the wellbeing of your teen. Here is what my teen friends said:

  • Has your teen’s friend group changed?
  • Is your teen becoming more argumentative?
  • Has your teen become more isolated?
  • Is he overly protective of his space, hiding stuff?
  • Is your teen lying more? Covering up an inward troubled mind by saying “I’m fine.”
  • Is he overly protective of his space, hiding stuff?
  • Is your teen becoming apathetic?
  • Are your teen’s grades becoming considerably worse?
  • Is your teen lying to friends as well as parents?
  • Is he more sneaky and vague?
  • Is your teen pushing away those who care about him?
  • Has your teen lost some or a lot of the motivation for good grades, involvement in activities (band, sports, clubs, etc.)?
  • Is your teen spending time at home when no one else is around?
  • Does your teen appear to be depressed and carry sadness?

Anchorpoint has been counseling with teens and their families for over 49 years. A compassionate therapist is available to listen. As one of our teen clients put it, “My therapist understood what I was trying to tell her even when I didn’t really understand. My experience was awesome.”

We would love the opportunity to serve you and your family. Regardless of your insurance or financial situation, we are here to help. We offer individual, marriage and family counseling to help you and your loved ones connect. Visit our website at to learn more about our counseling, tutoring and parent education. Call us today at 412-366-1300 to begin the healing process.

May God bless you and give you His wisdom and discernment as you love your teenager.