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The Flip Side

A Variety of Resources Help Families Find Balance

At this time of year, many parents pine over the arrival of the first report card—hoping for the best, but also knowing that it might not bring good news. First semester reports often serve as a wake up call to clarify boundaries, expectations, and goals for the future. One of the greatest dilemmas parents face is distinguishing between the trivial and the infinitely important so as to react appropriately. As teens grow and develop, the many changes of adolescence can sometimes leave us wondering whether behavior falls into the range of "typical," or is truly beyond white picket boundaries.  

Some of the best markers are shifts in moods, friends, sleep patterns, etc.  These are often followed by a substantive dip in grades.  Academic measures are only part of demystifying the adolescent Rubik’s cube, but they can be an effective tool for initiating productive dialogue for change.   Our problem-solving approach with teens is critical, yet parents often arrive in this lonely place with little understanding of how to identify and utilize effective supports.

As an educational advisor, I can assure you that aid is available in many forms. Therapists, mentors, and specialized tutors offer different approaches to finding stability and balance again. Some clinicians focus their work with the individual child, while others work more robustly with family systems and interactions. Bringing in extended family members and community outreach groups can provide better networks to manage the evolution. 

Sometimes parents reach a point of true clarity that all of their efforts to harness internal and community resources are still falling short of supporting loved ones.  This awakening can be one of the most difficult moments in our roles as parents, and often evokes a deep sense of humility.  Some situations merit passing the baton to experienced professionals as we regain our internal balance and give teens the opportunity to reset theirs.  Opportunities such as wilderness programs and residential settings combine both therapeutic services with educational objectives. 

No matter what the details of your child’s situation, they—and you—are not alone in having encountered such obstacles. Finding the right combination of services can help your child get back on track.  Reach out to the professionals in your community, the people in your extended family, and look back at the mentors in your life that helped you navigate through the fog of adolescence.  Through these people, you and your children will find the buoys and once again find yourself in safe harbors.  

Jeremy McGeorge specializes in serving families whose children need therapeutic services as part of their educational plan. He is also Bertram’s sustainable education “guru.” He can be reached