Toxic influence

Sometimes I feel so naive. I have far more experience in parenting troubled teens than I think anyone deserves and yet I still have so much to learn. It feels like these kids are always a step ahead of us. When we finally got onboard with Myspace, they moved onto Facebook. When we learned Facebook, they switched over to Instagram and Snapchat and TikTok. Honestly, I don’t know how parents are supposed to keep up. I feel like the world has more influence on my kids than I do.

If you’ve read my other posts, you know that Sarah is my easy kid. She’s the big-hearted girl that earnestly cares about others and doesn’t want to disappoint them. I guess I let that thought cloud my vision a little bit. Even though she’s still the easiest of my three kids, she’s not without her issues. She’s always told me that she’s not going to be like Matt or Laura. However, she’s still a 17 year old senior in high school, subject to peer pressure and poor decision making.

We recently discovered that Sarah has been drinking. While I know that’s common among teens, I thought Sarah would be different. Experimenting a bit with friends, trying to look and feel “cool” is probably something I should have expected (but I didn’t), but finding out that she’s been raiding the liquor cabinet at my house, her dad’s house, and I don’t know where else, because she can’t sleep at night and drinking helps her sleep… That sounds like a bigger problem to me. Is it even possible that 3 out of 3 kids could have addiction issues? Am I just so scared of that happening that I’m blowing it out of proportion? Why do our kids feel the need to self medicate?

We had a meeting this afternoon with all 4 parents (Mom, Dad, and step parents) and Sarah. Honestly, she seems relieved that it’s all out in the open. I think she wanted to get caught. She told us that she doesn’t think she has a chemical dependency. She tearfully said “I think it’s a ‘me’ problem” She is not happy with who she is. She feels anxiety about interacting with other teens. She tells us there are a lot of things going through her mind anytime she’s not distracted. I don’t even know where to go from here.

I have so many questions. Why do teens have such low self-esteem? Why do they feel a need for constant distraction? Why does any quiet time turn into self deprecating thoughts? Why do they find it so impossible to come to us when they’re feeling this way? How do I save her?

For now, we’ve decided to make an appointment with a therapist. She needs a place she feels able to open up about how she’s feeling. She’s not going to be hanging out with friends for a while. I really don’t know if that is helpful or not. I want to control her access to alcohol but, if she was drinking by herself, her friends aren’t the problem. Although, I’m sure they were contributors. Sarah knows how hurt and disappointed I am. I’m praying that is enough to encourage her to stay on the right path but, that might just be arrogant thinking.

I sat outside this morning and just prayed. God has faithfully answered many of my prayers in the past. Still, letting go of my children and trusting God to take care of them is the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do. I know the best I can ask for as a parent of a teenager is to have some influence on their decision making. Sarah is a few months away from being a legal adult, living her own life however she decides to live it. I am trying so hard to teach her how to make wise choices but, in the end, her choices will be hers.

It seems like there are parents who just don’t go through these kinds of issues with their kids. I am so envious of those parents. Am I wrong? Are they dealing with it too and just hiding it better? I just feel like this is such an epidemic and there has GOT to be a way to address it! How can we teach our kids to be positive, emotionally healthy people in such a toxic world? If anyone has any answers, I’d love to hear them.

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