There are many ways to define co-dependence and codependency among troubled teens. However, the essence of what definitions are getting at is that codependency among troubled teens leads to an inability to have mutually satisfying relationships with others. Trying to help a teen with codependency issues is no easy task. It is important to try not to get overly frustrated or lose hope, and know that there are ways to help.
In order to try to understand the effects of co-dependency among trouble teens let’s look at a fictional example of two different families:
In family one, there’s a mom, dad, older daughter, and a younger son. Mom and Dad are well aware of the fact that their son has been maxing out credit card after credit card on his expensive heroin addiction. Mom and dad let their son get away with maxed out credit cards, late nights of partying, and defiance towards all rules. It might be the case that mom and dad do not want their son to stray any further from their family than he already has, and for that reason they tolerate all his negative behaviors. What they also might be thinking is that by bailing him out of trouble, and giving him another chance it will ultimately lead to their son eradicating those negative behaviors on his own.
What might be difficult for this family to understand is that leniency is having a negative effect on their son’s life. Lashing out and disobedience can be signs of a person reaching out for a more intimate and emotional connection. Troubled teens with codependency issues often are unaware of constructive ways of getting parental attention; therefore they rebel and gain attention any way they can.
Now, let’s look at another example: In this family, Mom and Dad’s stance towards parenting stands a greater chance of being helpful. Instead of putting the relationship between them and their son on the back-burner, they actively try to become involved in what he is doing. They provide their son with the necessary tools to make informed decisions about his life, positive reinforcement, and emphasize the power he has to forge his future. Instead of creating an imbalanced relationship wherein one party has all the power, they have created something much more productive; a son who is able to think for himself, who has positive role models, and who is not afraid to ask for help.
Troubled teens with codependency issues are often in relationships where there is a power imbalance; they let the feelings and actions of another person affect them to the point that they feel like they have lost control of their own lives.
If you struggle with a teenager who is showcasing signs of co-dependence, or better yet, if you would like to avoid going down that path all together, practice good communication. Create relationships based on trust, instead of threats. Talk to your teenagers about the importance of learning self-worth, about how people in relationships should be able to speak without fear and with confidence that they will be heard and appreciated.
If your teenager needs help with issues of codependency, or if you as a parent struggle with the same issues, come to Solutions Treatment Center. Our IOP includes a family therapy component that can start mending a relationship in need of a little TLC.