Schoolboy showing his teacher the stop sign Image Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

When your 18-year-old son declares that you all need family coaching, then it is time to wake up and take notice.

When your teen does not come home till 3am from his jaunts with friends then it is a cause for concern.

When your teen abuses you because you have tried to implement boundaries then it is time to make some changes.

Recently I was approached by parents to ‘fix’ their 18-year-old son who had performed abysmally in his first term at college. He was disinterested in the courses he had chosen and refused to study. During the first session with the parents they revealed that they had ‘guided’ their son to choose the stream against his will. The mother revealed that her family comprised doctors and engineers and it was a given he had to be an engineer. She broke down saying her relatives and friends were curious about what he was pursuing and she felt ashamed of her only son wanting to pursue another academic option.

Seriously in this day and age when there are so many careers to choose from why would you limit a child? Do you really think he would be able to enjoy or succeed in pursuing a profession that has been forced upon him to satisfy his parents’ social standing?

Not only did he feel suffocated with studies he also had to listen to the parents’ discouraging comments. This young adult wanted to make his own decisions. His only way of experiencing some freedom was by rebelling against them.

The parents felt that by pointing out his mistakes they could encourage him to improve in academics. On the contrary he felt like no one understood him and that he was responsible for bringing shame on to the family, and thereby distancing himself from them would keep him sane.

It was he who suggested that maybe the family needed to talk to someone who was neutral and could help rebuild communication between them that had deteriorated to disparaging comments, accusations, shaming and on some occasions even abusing.

Most of the times parents seek help because they feel their child needs to be ‘fixed’. On many occasions the child does need help in developing life skills. Instead it’s the parents who are not providing the adequate environment or clearly communicating what the family’s boundaries are. If you are an evolved parent and see your child struggling with something — or with you — maybe it’s time you reflected on what you could possibly set right in your communication or approach as a parent rather than trying to ‘fix’ your child.

— Sunaina Vohra is a certified Youth and Family Life Coach at Athena Life Coaching in Dubai. For more information log on to athenalifecoaching.com or call 056-1399033.