Red Flags: A Cry for Help

It’s up to parents to recognize their teen’s red flags ― warning signs ― that are a cry for help.

Dr. Richard O'Connor

by Richard O’Connor, author of Undoing Perpetual Stress: The Missing Connection Between Depression, Anxiety and 21st Century Illness

One of my most vivid experiences as a therapist came about ten years ago when I was working with a 15-year-old young man I’ll call Tom.

Tom’s story

Tom was a good-looking and intelligent boy whose mother had brought him to our clinic, insisting that we get him to “shape up.” She had reason to be concerned. Despite his potential, he had failed one year of school already and was on his way to failing another. He was suspended from school as often as not because of petty rule-breaking, and he had been arrested for breaking and entering a local store after hours.

We tried family therapy, but it didn’t work. Tom lived with his mother and stepfather, the natural father disappearing years ago. The mother and stepfather had a stormy marriage. Tom and his stepfather didn’t get along at all, sometimes coming to blows, and mother was right in the middle. The stepfather stormed out after the second family session and Tom was assigned to me for individual therapy. To my surprise, he usually kept his appointments.

The incident I have in mind happened after almost a year of therapy.  Tom had already told me that he used marijuana and alcohol regularly, that he’d been sexually active since age 8, and that he’d engaged in a lot more petty crime than anyone ever suspected. He wasn’t bragging about any of these things, and I believed him.

There are no accidents

One afternoon he told me sheepishly about what happened when he came home from school the previous day. He’d been talking to his mother when he took off the pullover sweater he’d worn to school.  To his chagrin, a plastic bag of marijuana fell on the floor right in plain sight.  His mother knew what it was, but Tom somehow talked her into believing that he was only holding it for a friend.

Being a determined psychotherapist, I of course told Tom that this was no accident, and more or less accused him of wanting to get caught. He denied any such intention, instead laughing at how he’d fooled his mother again. Nothing I could say could make him think differently.

To our mutual amazement, however, exactly the same thing happened a month later ― the pullover, the marijuana on the floor, the same cock-and-bull story that Tom’s mother swallowed again.

This time not even Tom’s powers of denial could stand up to the implications of his actions. When I said that he must be disappointed and hurt that she had believed him, Tom agreed. This six-foot 180-pound kid with a police record who was the terror of his principal’s office then started to cry.

Love is a verb

He talked for the first time about how much he wanted his mother to love him, and how convinced he was that she didn’t because she let him get away with everything. He talked about how he must really be an awful case to be abandoned by everyone responsible for him.  He felt that, despite the trouble he was in, he was more of an adult than anyone else in the house because he saw things as they were and was capable of acting unselfishly.  I agreed.

This was the beginning of some progress for Tom. The best we could do was help him see his mom objectively, as a limited, self-centered woman who cared about him but not in the way he needed. He had to grieve for and give up on the idea of the mother he wanted, who would care enough about him to make him feel good about himself. Instead, he had to limit his self-defeating behavior and start doing things he himself would be proud of ― in other words, to start functioning as his own parent. This is a tough job for a 15-year-old, but there are millions of kids out there for whom this is the best hope.

Whatever they do, they want you to notice

Since then I’ve heard the same kind of story over and over. Kids wave the red flag in front of their parents. Their grades drop, they get in trouble, they come home drunk. They get abused by their boyfriends or they get suicidal. They get in car accidents or get pregnant.

Don’t think that means they will fall into your arms when you confront them. By no means are teens that easy ― you have a fight on your hands. But your child will be much better off if you will respond to the red flag.

Teens aren’t capable of making the decisions they have to make today without our help.  When they need help, they have ways of letting us know. Unfortunately, they often don’t ask for help with words, but with dangerous or self-destructive behavior. It’s the parent’s job to get the message.

Related Post

Comments

Red Flags: A Cry for Help — 468 Comments

  1. Pingback: stock tips

  2. Pingback: Warning Signs of Drug Use

  3. Pingback: gambling games

  4. Pingback: website here

  5. Pingback: Ladie'S Polos embroidered in the Atlanta area

  6. Pingback: Hard Working Realtor

  7. Pingback: Trackback

  8. Pingback: Mold Removal

  9. Pingback: eddies home services

  10. Pingback: Trackback

  11. Pingback: CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE

  12. Pingback: OTC Stocks

  13. Pingback: Nike Air Force 1 06 Chaussure pour Fille

  14. Pingback: Giuseppe Zanotti Cha Femme Wedge Sneakers

  15. Pingback: Giuseppe Zanotti Metallic Western Wedge Leahter Boots Femme

  16. Pingback: Giuseppe Zanotti Bow Cap Toe Loafer Flats Femme

  17. Pingback: Houston

  18. Pingback: Giuseppe Zanotti Metallic Canvas Leather Wedge sneakers Wedge Sneakers

  19. Pingback: Giuseppe Zanotti Western-Style Wedge Ankle Boots Short Boots Femme White

  20. Pingback: Nike Tiempo 94 Mid Chaussure pour Homme

  21. Pingback: celine handbags online usa

  22. Pingback: Buy it now

  23. Pingback: air jordan 13

  24. Pingback: air jordan femme

  25. Pingback: wholesale jerseys

  26. Pingback: ray ban homme

  27. Pingback: nike air max pas cher

  28. Pingback: nike tn

  29. Pingback: louboutin femme

  30. Pingback: vibram five fingers uk

  31. Pingback: Celine outlet

  32. Pingback: oakley military boots

  33. Pingback: eso gold

  34. Pingback: oakley gascan

  35. Pingback: Carmine 6s

  36. Pingback: Hermes handbags uk

  37. Pingback: Where To Buy Concord 11s

  38. Pingback: lunette oakley

  39. Pingback: ray ban homme

  40. Pingback: boutique louboutin paris

  41. Pingback: nike store paris

  42. Pingback: oakley frogskin

  43. Pingback: chanel handbags

  44. Pingback: longchamp pas cher

  45. Pingback: Jordan 6 Retro Carmine

  46. Pingback: Carmine 6

  47. Pingback: Concord 11s For Sale

  48. Pingback: agen bola,judi bola,judi bola online,taruhan bola,bandar bola,agen bola online,https://www.facebook.com/taruhanbola.judionline,click here,taruhan bola click here,visit bandar bola,facebook judi bola

  49. Pingback: boutique longchamp

  50. Pingback: nike tn requin pas cher

  51. Pingback: canada goose cheap

  52. Pingback: nike air max pas cher

  53. Pingback: oakley femme

  54. Pingback: nike tn pas cher

  55. Pingback: Real Carmine 6s

  56. Pingback: acheter louboutin

  57. Pingback: Concord 11s

  58. Pingback: eso gold

  59. Pingback: ray ban italia

  60. Pingback: Nike Flyknit Lunar2 Femme

  61. Pingback: christian louboutin men

  62. Pingback: ray ban

  63. Pingback: hogan scarpe

  64. Pingback: oakley radar path

  65. Pingback: kate spade handbags outlet

  66. Pingback: cheap聽toms聽outlet

  67. Pingback: basket jordan femme

  68. Pingback: nike air max 1 pas cher

  69. Pingback: nike pas cher

  70. Pingback: nike free pas cher

  71. Pingback: lunettes de soleil oakley pas cher

  72. Pingback: Pre Order Carmine 6s

  73. Pingback: christian louboutin homme

  74. Pingback: College

  75. Pingback: spy sunglasses warranty

  76. Pingback: nike air max pas cher

  77. Pingback: ray ban wayfarer

  78. Pingback: canada goose jackets sale

  79. Pingback: nike air max pas cher

  80. Pingback: nike tn requin pas cher

  81. Pingback: retro taxi 12

  82. Pingback: nike air max pas cher

  83. Pingback: cheap timberland boots

  84. Pingback: air max 1 pas cher

  85. Pingback: nike blazer pas cher

  86. Pingback: nike tn requin pas cher

  87. Pingback: gamma 11 blue

  88. Pingback: wow gold

  89. Pingback: プラダ 財布

  90. Pingback: ボッテガヴェネタ 財布

  91. Pingback: wow gold online

  92. Pingback: basket christian louboutin

  93. Pingback: michael kors bags

  94. Pingback: veste salomon trail

  95. Pingback: Cheap Nike blazers

  96. Pingback: carbunkle truckwhite

  97. Pingback: MCM リュック 芸能人

  98. Pingback: ヴィトン バッグ

  99. Pingback: MCM リュック 芸能人

  100. Pingback: MCM 新作

  101. Pingback: MCM 日本

  102. Pingback: MCM iphoneケース

  103. Pingback: TUMI 3way

  104. Pingback: TUMI 店舗

  105. Pingback: TUMI リュック

  106. Pingback: TUMI トゥミ 26108

  107. Pingback: TUMI トゥミ 26141

  108. Pingback: トリーバーチ ブーツ

  109. Pingback: トリーバーチ クラッチ

  110. Pingback: TUMI トゥミ 26108

  111. Pingback: トリーバーチ クラッチ

  112. Pingback: ビジネスバッグ

  113. Pingback: トリーバーチ ブーツ

  114. Pingback: tumi カバン

  115. Pingback: TUMI トゥミ 26141

  116. Pingback: tumi バッグ

  117. Pingback: chanel 財布

  118. Pingback: coach バッグ

  119. Pingback: coach 財布

  120. Pingback: コーチ バッグ

  121. Pingback: シャネル バッグ

  122. Pingback: ボッテガヴェネタ 財布

  123. Pingback: クロエ 財布

  124. Pingback: chloe 財布

  125. Pingback: ボッテガベネタ

  126. Pingback: クロエ 長財布

  127. Pingback: MCM iphoneケース

  128. Pingback: ヴィトン バッグ

  129. Pingback: ヴィトン 長財布

  130. Pingback: MCM 新作

  131. Pingback: MCM 日本

  132. Pingback: MCM 新作

  133. Pingback: vuitton 財布

  134. Pingback: ポールスミス 時計

  135. Pingback: ブルガリ 指輪

  136. Pingback: ブルガリ キーケース

  137. Pingback: ブルガリ 財布 メンズ

  138. Pingback: コーチ アウトレット

  139. Pingback: コーチ 財布

  140. Pingback: ロエベ アウトレット

  141. Pingback: ロエベ 財布 メンズ

  142. Pingback: トリバーチ バッグ

  143. Pingback: TUMI リュック

  144. Pingback: トリーバーチ ショルダー

  145. Pingback: TUMI 3way

  146. Pingback: plumber Sofia

  147. Pingback: ヘッドポーター

  148. Pingback: プラダ キーケース

  149. Pingback: プラダ トート

  150. Pingback: parker ボールペン

  151. Pingback: ポーター ショルダー

  152. Pingback: ポーター ショルダー

  153. Pingback: プラダメンズ

  154. Pingback: miumiu アウトレット

  155. Pingback: プラダ トート

  156. Pingback: ポーター 財布

  157. Pingback: サッカースパイク激安

  158. Pingback: ビジネスバッグ

  159. Pingback: マーキュリアルヴェイパー8

  160. Pingback: サッカースパイク

  161. Pingback: ダコタ 店舗

  162. Pingback: クロエ 長財布

  163. Pingback: chloe 財布

  164. Pingback: see by chloe

  165. Pingback: クロエ バック

  166. Pingback: MCM 韓国

  167. Pingback: MCM iphoneケース

  168. Pingback: バーキン エルメス

  169. Pingback: バーキン エルメス

  170. Pingback: diesel バッグ

  171. Pingback: ズームコービー8

  172. Pingback: hermes バッグ

  173. Pingback: グッチ 財布

  174. Pingback: diesel 時計

  175. Pingback: HERMES kelly

  176. Pingback: hermes 財布

  177. Pingback: エルメス ケリー

  178. Pingback: hermes 財布

  179. Pingback: グッチ キーケース

  180. Pingback: グッチ 財布 レディース

  181. Pingback: gucci バック

  182. Pingback: 高級腕時計

  183. Pingback: 腕時計 激安

  184. Pingback: 腕時計 通販

  185. Pingback: 時計 人気

  186. Pingback: 時計 人気

  187. Pingback: ポーター リュック

  188. Pingback: gucci backpack for men

  189. Pingback: swarovski bangles

  190. Pingback: Jordan 6 Brazil

  191. Pingback: プラダ トート

  192. Pingback: プラダ トート

  193. Pingback: プラダ アウトレット

  194. Pingback: miumiu 財布

  195. Pingback: ヌーン・コペンハーゲン 腕時計

  196. Pingback: プラダ バッグ

  197. Pingback: PORTER バッグ

  198. Pingback: エンポリオアルマーニ 時計

  199. Pingback: プラダ トート

  200. Pingback: prada 財布

  201. Pingback: ダコタ財布

  202. Pingback: プラダ アウトレット

  203. Pingback: ダコタ財布

  204. Pingback: プラダ キーケース

  205. Pingback: miumiu 財布

  206. Pingback: prada バッグ

  207. Pingback: プラダ トート

  208. Pingback: シチズン XC

  209. Pingback: prada 財布

  210. Pingback: プラダ 財布

  211. Pingback: miumiu アウトレット

  212. Pingback: miumiu 財布

  213. Pingback: カシオ 電波時計

  214. Pingback: dakota 財布

  215. Pingback: ダコタバッグ

  216. Pingback: ダコタ財布

  217. Pingback: dakotaバッグ

  218. Pingback: ダコタ 店舗

  219. Pingback: G-SHOCK 人気

  220. Pingback: dakota 財布

  221. Pingback: ダコタ財布

  222. Pingback: parker ボールペン

  223. Pingback: ポーター キーケース

  224. Pingback: ダコタ財布

  225. Pingback: 腕時計 メンズ

  226. Pingback: 腕時計 激安

  227. Pingback: オメガ 時計

  228. Pingback: アルマーニ 時計

  229. Pingback: アルマーニ 腕時計

  230. Pingback: ヘッドポーター

  231. Pingback: G-SHOCK 人気

  232. Pingback: カシオ Gショック

  233. Pingback: バリーさん

  234. Pingback: エンポリオアルマーニ

  235. Pingback: カシオ Gショック

  236. Pingback: 時計 人気

  237. Pingback: ブレラ 腕時計

  238. Pingback: プラダ バッグ

  239. Pingback: Cheap Nike air max 2014

  240. Pingback: PORTER バッグ

  241. Pingback: prada 財布

  242. Pingback: prada バッグ

  243. Pingback: プラダ バック

  244. Pingback: dakota ダコタ

  245. Pingback: prada バッグ

  246. Pingback: miumiu アウトレット

  247. Pingback: カシオ 腕時計

  248. Pingback: エンポリオアルマーニ

  249. Pingback: カシオ 電波時計

  250. Pingback: ドルチェ&ガッバーナ 腕時計

  251. Pingback: セイコー 時計

  252. Pingback: ダコタ財布

  253. Pingback: 高級腕時計

  254. Pingback: 腕時計 メンズ

  255. Pingback: ハミルトン 時計

  256. Pingback: カシオ 時計

  257. Pingback: 腕時計 通販

  258. Pingback: ポーター リュック

  259. Pingback: アルマーニ 時計

  260. Pingback: カシオ Gショック

  261. Pingback: wow gold

  262. Pingback: gucci hand bags

  263. Pingback: live sites sochi 2014

  264. Pingback: Trackback

  265. Pingback: Where can i buy

  266. Pingback: Where to buy center

  267. Pingback: Where to buy center

  268. Pingback: Where can i buy

  269. Pingback: pioneer hdj 1500 professional headphones reduction b00a2a0ofy 1541

  270. Pingback: thinkcentre m92p core i5 3470 250gb b008azs13a 879

  271. Pingback: audio xtx500 5 1500 channel amplifier b005d5x5k4 3194

  272. Pingback: bike finance

  273. Pingback: cashonline

  274. Pingback: house with bad credit

  275. Pingback: cash advance centres

  276. Pingback: bad credit unsecured personal loans

  277. Pingback: real payday loan applications

  278. Pingback: click here

  279. Pingback: sam waltonman

  280. Pingback: click here

  281. Pingback: mailbox yellow

  282. Pingback: chinese herbal viagra london

  283. Pingback: click here

  284. Pingback: pharmacie andorre cialis

  285. Pingback: somanabolic muscle maximizer reviews

  286. Pingback: iherb coupons

  287. Pingback: iherb promo code

  288. Pingback: Blog

  289. Pingback: abdominoplasty chicago

  290. Pingback: top jobs in nyc

  291. Pingback: Sneak A Peek At This Site

  292. Pingback: Link...

  293. Pingback: affordable seo services

  294. Pingback: buy cialis

  295. Pingback: free sex on cam

  296. Pingback: Lie detector

  297. Pingback: Kazakh National Medical University

  298. Pingback: cialis mГ©dicament

  299. Pingback: premature ejaculation treatment nhs

  300. Pingback: Seo

  301. Pingback: cialis 20mg

  302. Pingback: Ideas

  303. Pingback: Technology

  304. Pingback: adult video

  305. Pingback: Social Media Marketing Tools

  306. Pingback: Solutions

  307. Pingback: Nikon D3200 Price Bangalore

  308. Pingback: free xbox live gold

  309. Pingback: Tech

  310. Pingback: cialis livraison rapide

  311. Pingback: Basketball Fundraiser

  312. Pingback: DELHI UNIVERSITY RESULTS

  313. Pingback: weight loss diet

  314. Pingback: cialis vidal

  315. Pingback: Start

  316. Pingback: escritorio de advocacia

  317. Pingback: tenant screening

  318. Pingback: graphic design

  319. Pingback: rocker switch

  320. Pingback: generiques cialis

  321. Pingback: {augmentin kids dosage|replacement for augmentin|augmentin tablet doses|875 mg augmentin sinus infection|augmentin xr oral thrush|how is augmentin prescribed|can you take augmentin when pregnant}

  322. Pingback: PC Security Blog

  323. Pingback: penile vacuum pump

  324. Pingback: Finance

  325. Pingback: the muscle maximizer

  326. Pingback: licence rrw alsace

  327. Pingback: capture his heart

  328. Pingback: Liberty

  329. Pingback: kolikkopelit netissä

  330. Pingback: hairy anus

  331. Pingback: Resultatos Loteria Quindio

  332. Pingback: cialis 20 mg

  333. Pingback: mark cobb

  334. Pingback: Courier

  335. Pingback: Trading

  336. Pingback: iherb coupon codes

  337. Pingback: Business

  338. Pingback: workout obsession

  339. Pingback: iherb coupons

  340. Pingback: iherb coupons

  341. Pingback: Roleplayers on Roleplay Social - Browse All Roleplayers

  342. Pingback: ricesidedish

  343. Pingback: sporty ekstremalne

  344. Pingback: Camp

  345. Pingback: new books on lung cancer

  346. Pingback: nice06000

  347. Pingback: Breach of Contract Lawyer Dallas

  348. Pingback: keygen free

  349. Pingback: how to detox your body naturally

  350. Pingback: Technology

  351. Pingback: clash of clans cheats

  352. Pingback: poplar table

  353. Pingback: Mobile

  354. Pingback: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=air.com.mysweet.dog

  355. Pingback: Miami bankruptcy attorney

  356. Pingback: clash of clans cheats

  357. Pingback: abstract painting

  358. Pingback: Diindolylmethane

  359. Pingback: vente cialis en belgique

  360. Pingback: We Buy Houses in Connecticut

  361. Pingback: clash of clans cheats

  362. Pingback: Fashion

  363. Pingback: middlemarch otago

  364. Pingback: kostenlos reisen

  365. Pingback: San Antonio TX SEO Consultant

  366. Pingback: clash of clans cheats

  367. Pingback: water ionizer

  368. Pingback: clash of clans cheats

  369. Pingback: gu10 led bulb

  370. Pingback: adelgaza 20

  371. Pingback: part time job

  372. Pingback: san diego search engine optimization

  373. Pingback: Pressure Cooking Recipes

  374. Pingback: more info

  375. Pingback: clash of clans hack

  376. Pingback: Silver Buyers

  377. Pingback: kangen water

  378. Pingback: {levaquin ndc code|levaquin for cough|generic form of levaquin|levofloxacin 1000 mg ats|levaquin sore feet|levaquin weakness|levofloxacin osteonecrosis}

  379. Pingback: cialis levitra

  380. Pingback: kratom

  381. Pingback: e cigarette

  382. Pingback: smokes

  383. Pingback: Full Article

  384. Pingback: plano roofing

  385. Pingback: wypoczynek nad morzem

  386. Pingback: hentai

  387. Pingback: ????? ?????

  388. Pingback: how to get rid of premature ejaculation permanently

  389. Pingback: Free Facebook Likes

  390. Pingback: Coaching

  391. Pingback: wpc

  392. Pingback: Movemynt Products

  393. Pingback: shirts

  394. Pingback: tablet

  395. Pingback: {lasix works part kidney|furosemide sunlight|furosemide and atenolol|lasix tablets uses|stopping lasix|lasix feet swelling|lasix formula}

  396. Pingback: purses

  397. Pingback: lovelady center in birmingham al

  398. Pingback: branson show

  399. Pingback: reviews, tiops and tricks and manuals for the best android apps and android smartphones Android Apps - Photography, Collage, Photo Editing and Camera Apps

  400. Pingback: naples fl

  401. Pingback: hyaluronic acid serum

  402. Pingback: Homes For Sale in Plainfield IL

  403. Pingback: Downers Grove Real Estate

  404. Pingback: Impeach President

  405. Pingback: live geo news

  406. Pingback: pop over here

  407. Pingback: fast fat loss plan

  408. Pingback: carpet cleaning houston

  409. Pingback: kangen

  410. Pingback: {clomid natural methods|using clomid and hcg|clomid men sale|clomid elevated bbt|clomid causing epilepsy|best way conceive clomid|is clomid and clomiphene the same thing}

  411. Pingback: where can you purchase garcinia cambogia

  412. Pingback: 510 electronic cigarette

  413. Pingback: muscle building supplements

  414. Pingback: dentist the woodlands tx

  415. Pingback: tadalafil citrate

  416. Pingback: secret money system review

  417. Pingback: bhw

  418. Pingback: metodo del calendario explicacion

  419. Pingback: achat cialis avis

  420. Pingback: groom speech

  421. Pingback: Medical Daily

  422. Pingback: seo tampa

  423. Pingback: profiles women

  424. Pingback: liposuction prices

  425. Pingback: Bankruptcy

  426. Pingback: {adverse reactions of digoxin and lasix|meglio lasix o moduretic|lasix oral uses|using lasix for weight loss|what do you take furosemide for|demadex vs furosemide|patient lasix needs monitored}

  427. Pingback: las vegas seo services

  428. Pingback: surveys for money

  429. Pingback: generic cialis 20mg

  430. Pingback: Number Plates

  431. Pingback: Ways to make money fast

  432. Pingback: burçlar

  433. Pingback: Zwiastuny filmowe

  434. Pingback: online payday loans no documents

  435. Pingback: Mason

  436. Pingback: clash of clans hack

  437. Pingback: Pokrov spiritually religious movement

  438. Pingback: how to train to last longer in bed

  439. Pingback: clash of clans hack

  440. Pingback: aceite de canola

  441. Pingback: how to become an emt

  442. Pingback: Lawyer 816-524-0404

  443. Pingback: latest celeb fashion

  444. Pingback: free cookbook

  445. Pingback: Party Supplies Shop

  446. Pingback: learning for toddlers

  447. Pingback: etsy help

  448. Pingback: Buffet Ramadhan Casa Ombak

  449. Pingback: compare courier insurance

  450. Pingback: cleaning

  451. Pingback: ionized water

  452. Pingback: belly fat burner supplements

  453. Pingback: massage therapy online courses

  454. Pingback: {cartia arthritis|diltiazem in vanpen cream 2|diltiazem and interactions|cartia xt hcl|diltiazem or verapamil atrial fibrillation|diltiazem chemical cardioversion|formulation characterization floating tablets diltiazem hydrochloride}

  455. Pingback: napedy do bram skrzydlowych

  456. Pingback: umowa przedwstepna kupna mieszkania

  457. Pingback: this link

  458. Pingback: Wisla noclegi

  459. Pingback: Okna dachowe

  460. Pingback: laptop backpack

  461. Pingback: www.abundantlifearchitects.com/health

  462. Pingback: Grawerowanie laserowe

  463. Pingback: pisanie prac magisterskich z filologii angielskiej

  464. Pingback: dzial spadku

  465. Pingback: instalacje gazowe poznan

  466. Pingback: http://gry-przegladarkowe.net.pl/

  467. Pingback: savannah immigration attorney

  468. Pingback: Download, R350, Reset waste ink