Sue Scheff on Tough Love

teentoughlove.jpgAs a parent advocate, I have heard many parents that turn to tough love as one of their last resorts to help their struggling teen. Many cannot understand or grasp the concept of, tough love or “not enabling” the child to ruin or run the family unit.

Enduring life with a teen that is running the home can result in many uproars, conflicts, arguments, battles, and sometimes psychical and verbal abuse. Tough love is exactly that: Tough. Loving our children is unconditional, but we don’t have to like what they are doing or how they are destroying their lives.

There will come a time when a parent realizes enough is enough!

This is the time that they need the support from outside sources, such as a Tough Love support groups, along with professional intervention.

This does not reflect you as a parent, nor does it place blame on the family, it is the child that is making the bad choices and the family is suffering from it.

Many times tough love is simply letting go. Let the child make their mistakes and they will either learn from them or suffer the consequences. Unfortunately depending on the situation, it is not always feasible to wait until the last minute to intervene.

If you see that tough love is not working at home, it may be time to consider residential placement (placement outside the home). Quality Residential placements work with the entire family. Once the child is safely removed from the family, everyone is able to concentrate on the issues calmly and rationally.

Tough love can mean finding the most appropriate setting outside of the home for your child. While in the whirlwind of confusion, frustration and stress that the child is causing, it is hard to see the actual problem or problems. With time and distance, the healing starts to occur.

Tough love is a very painful and stressful avenue, however in many families, very necessary and very rewarding. Tough love if used correctly can be helpful. However if you are the type to give in at the end, all the hard work of standing your ground will be for nothing.

Actually, your weakness or giving in could result in deeper and more serious problems. Please confer with professionals or outside help if you feel you are not able to follow through with what you are telling your child you will do.

Don’t be ashamed to ask for help, you are certainly not alone.

By Sue Scheff

Founder of Parent’s Universal Resource Experts

Author of Wit’s End!

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Sue Scheff: Cyberbullying and Suicide by Connect with Kids

teencyber.jpg“Days after Ryan’s death, I got the courage to go back into his room and for whatever reason, I thought his computer might unravel some of the mystery. So I sat down at his computer…”

– John Halligan, Ryan’s father

Today, several states are considering legislation that would make cyberbullying a crime. This is in response to the suicide of 13-year-old Megan Meier, who hung herself in October 2006 after she was hoaxed, harassed and humiliated online. The bully in Megan’s case turned out to be a 47-year-old woman — a neighbor who won’t be prosecuted criminally because there’s no law that she violated. Megan’s parents want to change that.

The Halligans, whose son Ryan also committed suicide after being bullied online, understand this issue all too well.

It was 6:30 a.m. … morning routine at the Halligans. Ryan’s older sister opened the bathroom door.

“I felt like I couldn’t get any words out. All I could say was, ‘Ryan, dead. Ryan, dead. Bathroom.’ I couldn’t put a sentence together,” says Ryan’s sister, Megan Halligan, 18.

Ryan didn’t leave a note, but his dad found some clues.

“Days after Ryan’s death, I got the courage to go back into his room and for whatever reason, I thought his computer might unravel some of the mystery. So I sat down at his computer,” says John Halligan, Ryan’s father.

Halligan found hundreds of saved instant message (IM) conversations. John reads one that was written two weeks before Ryan died:

“It started off with the other boy starting the conversation, saying, ‘is this the last time I’m going to hear you complain?’ And, ‘you’re finally going to kill yourself?’ was the question. And my son said, ‘Yep.’ And the other boy replied, ‘Phew, it’s about F-‘n time.’ And my son replied back, ‘You’ll hear about it in the papers tomorrow.’”

Recent surveys show that 42 percent of kids have been bullied online. One in four has been bullied more than once, and 58 percent of those bullied never said a word to their parents. That’s why, experts say, parents should keep computers out in the open where they can read what’s on the screen. Parents also should talk with their children about cyberbullying, set up clear rules for communicating online, and learn who they are IMing and chatting with.

Even with precautions like these, cyberbullying can find its way into your child’s life. The Bryants, whose daughter, Erica, was also bullied online, learned that just because your kids are home doesn’t mean they’re safe.

“It was in my own home, but even in my own home, I wasn’t safe,” says Erica Bryant, now 18.

“I hated instant messaging. I hated the power it had to get in our house and hurt her,” says Linda Perloff, Erica’s mother.

“I’d also like to warn parents that you need to dig a little deeper in your child’s life, especially if they’re withdrawing from you. Take the time to snoop, if you will, into your child’s life,” says Kelly Halligan, Ryan’s mother.

Tips for Parents

Depression associated with Internet addiction comes not from the technology itself, but from the loss of other connections in a person’s life. Parents should be concerned if kids are not spending time with friends. (Eddie Reece, M.S., L.P.C., psychotherapist)

Instead of forcing kids to get off the computer, try engaging them in conversation. Start by showing interest in what your child is doing online. Curiosity is an excellent healing approach. Once you have the child talking, you can suggest more fulfilling activities. (Eddie Reece, M.S., L.P.C., psychotherapist)

Although the Internet can be a dangerous place, parents should not become overly fearful and ban kids from using the computer. Realize your child’s future success depends on being savvy with technology. (Kathleen Fitzgerald, director, CyberCamps)

Parents need to become involved in their children’s Internet use. Go online with your child. Teach them to make smart decisions online. (Kathleen Fitzgerald, Director, CyberCamps)
Chat rooms are among the most dangerous places on the web. (James Murray, Police Chief, Peachtree City, GA)