Parenting an adolescent is not for the faint of heart. The statistics on teen vaping, drug use, anxiety, accidental death, and even suicide are downright frightening. These problems don’t just affect the underprivileged. In fact, as Madeline Levine tells us, there can be a “price of privilege.” What is going on here?

A confluence of factors is making it more difficult to raise an emotionally healthy adolescent. Economic pressures, with both parents working outside the home; more permissive social norms; ubiquitous and potentially toxic social media; and 24/7 internet connectivity are among the factors combining to increase teen exposure and reduce parental control. And these are above and beyond the natural, hormonally driven changes that make teens more independent-minded and difficult to parent. To make matters worse, attempts to tighten the reigns, once concerns are identified, can backfire and lead to outright rebellion.

Although there is no magic formula that can guarantee a problem-free adolescence, we know that certain evidence-based parenting practices, started early enough and consistently applied, can make a difference for you and your adolescent.

Since 2005, the Ridgefield Community Coalition Against Substance Abuse (RCCASA) has been offering Parent Circles, facilitated discussion groups for the parents of soon-to-be adolescents. This year’s circles will begin in February. For more information, and to join a circle, contact Doug Barile, LMFT, at dougbarile@gmail.com.

Doug Barile