Making Arizona a Better Place by Helping Troubled Teens, At-Risk Youth, and Families in Crisis

The Best Way to Help Wayward Children

What is the best advice for parents of troubled teenagers?

Michael J. Merchant, the President of Anasazi Foundation, suggests that “our love is irresistible,” and that it will eventually invite our children home

Transcript of The Best Advice for Parents of Wayward Children:

Parents often ask me what can they do? Even if they don’t send their child to Anasazi, what could they do to actually help a child that they’re concerned with and struggling with. And I always tell them: “Look, you’ve got to find a way to connect with them. You’ve got to find a way to make sure that they know that you care about them deeply.”

And so, too often we’re focused on correction. We’re just, we’re at that correction level all the time and I say: “Mom and Dad, let’s move a little bit deeper. Let’s listen a little longer. Let’s try and build a relationship with them. Let’s make sure that we’re looking for their greatness.”

Because, look, when I’m looking for a child’s greatness, I’m not thinking about me anymore. And even in their struggles, I can find their greatness, right? And it keeps me outside of myself. It keeps me in a way that’s not giving them justification.

So, our love is irresistible and yes, can a child resist it and behaviorally resist it and walk away from me continually? Yes, but it’s still ringing in their ears that someone cares about them. Somebody really cares about them. And again, that’s the best chance, the best chance they’re ever going to turn back around.

I always tell parents: “Don’t ever allow your child to leave the home when they’re cut off from you.” That’s the worst place for them to be, because then they can just use you to justify their behavior. Make sure that when they leave the home it’s ringing in their ears that you really, really care about them. That you love them deeply and that you hope in every way that they’ll make the kind of choices that will help them grow and accomplish the great things that are ahead of them in their life. But you’re always there with your arms open to help things go right.



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