Author: Lisa Nichols

Why I Help Moms of Out-of-Control Teens

Making the decision to send our son to residential therapeutic school was the hardest decision of my life.

It took us about a year too long to do it. He had been tough for a while, but really went off the deep end at 13.

But we kept expecting and hoping that he would “get it,” that he’d start going to school, get off the computer, stop smoking, stop stealing our credit cards, be less violently angry, etc. etc.

But we finally had the people come in the middle of the night and whisk him away to Utah.

He was gone two and a half years of his high school years. And while it was tough (for all of us) and he hated every moment of it, it was the right thing to do. It was how we kept him safe during those difficult years and he learned a lot. And he did finally graduate high school (it was touch and go there right up until the end!).

This is the thing: He wasn’t the only one who had to change for us to have a happy ending.

At some point, I finally realized that I was parenting my son in a way that was not helpful: through guilt. It created separation. It was part of the dynamic that kept him in his troubled ways. I also had emotional triggers that would make me react to him in certain ways – and they actually had nothing to do with him.

When I started reacting to him differently, it was a turning point for our relationship. We actually like each other again! I also firmly believe that he would not be where he is today if I had not figured out my own stuff.

These troubled teen years were the toughest of my life, and I found there was very little help out there for the parents going through it – especially from someone who had been there. I really could have used some support and understanding!

Now, I’m committed to helping you — the mom dealing with the desperation and heartache of having an out-of-control teen – survive these years and rebuild your relationship with your teen.

So I wrote my book, Surviving the High School Years with Your Sanity Intact: A Guide for Moms of Out-of-Control Teens.

And now I’m starting to work with moms directly. I so want to be there for you. We’ll cry together a little, but mostly I’ll help you work through all those overwhelming emotions. I’ll also help you get clear headed so that you can see what your next step should be. And I’ll help you find the way to create what you so desperately want: a renewed relationship with your child.

If you are interested in having somebody who has been where you are help you with this challenge and help turn things around, email me so we can talk about what that looks like.

It’s Not Personal

It can seem impossible not to take personally when your teenager yells at you, points out your faults, does what you thought they knew not to do, and blames you for everything wrong in the world.

But learning to not take what they say and do personally may be the best gift you give to yourself. It will also help your relationship with your teen.

As children, we take everything personally because we have to – we’re vulnerable and our very survival feels at stake. What we don’t know is that everyone else thinks the same thing: it’s all about them and therefore cannot be about us.

When our kids become teenagers, that survival instinct is joined with the need to grow and learn and become independent, so they must separate, they must learn where the boundaries are, they must search for meaning and purpose and value.

They say mean things and make dumb mistakes because they are in a huge growth and learning mode and because their brain hasn’t fully connected and yet they feel like they’re pretty smart compared to how they used to be.

All of this can feel so personal to a mom. It’s so hard to transition from meaning the world to someone to being viewed as the enemy seemingly overnight.

But when you take things personally, you are giving meaning to events or actions that are not about you.

For example, if your child decides to start smoking (whether you smoke or not), does that have anything to do with you if their reason to smoke is to piss you off or to rebel against you? Nope.

Does it have anything to do with the way your raised them, the times you failed them, or all the things you didn’t do right, like they might want you to think? Nope again.

It’s about them. It has to do with their need to piss you off or rebel against you, to fit in, to self-medicate their anxiousness, to feel independent, to experiment, or whatever their need is.

When you take it personally — when you feel hurt or judged, it can heighten the emotions in conflicts.

It can block you from being able to communicate about what it means to THEM. It can stop you from truly understanding what’s driving them.

When your teen comes at you or acts out, find time to look at it as if you are someone outside of the situation. Is it really about you?

By the Skin of Our Teeth

Five years ago today, we flew to New Hampshire (by way of Boston) for our son’s high school graduation.

We really had no idea — right up until the last minute — if it would ever happen.

Not after he basically refused to go to school his freshman year.

Or after the months that he was on Home and Hospital by order of the high school he was attending.

Or after the many more months (years, actually) he was in Utah at a residential therapeutic school, and then an alternative boarding school in New Hampshire for his senior year.

He was sent home just a month before the end of the year. Here we thought we had made it — after years of the mantra “just get him through high school, just get him through high school” — and then, bam, it was in danger of not happening.

Thankfully, the school allowed him to finish his course work at home. Thankfully, he did it. Thankfully, we were able to take him to graduate with his class.

It was touch and go for years. But I’m grateful we hung in there. I’m grateful for the lessons I learned. I’m grateful that he’s doing as great as he is, and that we have a close relationship again.

Those years were tough, the hardest of my life. If you’re going through them now, I’m here to support you. Download a copy of my book (at or give me a call and let me know what’s going on with you.

These difficult years won’t last forever, even if it seems like they will never end. You’ll be okay, mama.

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