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Posted by on Nov 28, 2017 in Parenting Tips, The Quest Project, Tips for Moms | 3 comments

Adolescent Son In Trouble? Final Step

Over the past 3 weeks I’ve laid out the steps to take if you suspect trouble with your adolescent son.  Unfortunately, when the first three steps (boundaries & limits, counseling and intensive outpatient) have failed it’s time to move to the final step. 

The Final Step=Intensive Inpatient

If you’ve reached this step with your adolescent son it’s now a matter of safety for you, your family and your son.  This is the most drastic yet necessary step if behavior is out of control.

Intensive inpatient programs are designed to stabilize, regulate and bring out-of-control situations under control.  Here are some examples.

  • Running away for days at a time
  • Cutting or self-destructive behavior
  • Excessive drinking
  • Addicted to drugs
  • Stealing money to support habit
  • Family fears for its safety
  • Suicidal ideation or attempts
  • Bizarre behavior

Many of these examples were covered last week; the difference is nothing is changing, and in fact are getting worse.  This is a very hard step for parents to take.  The idea of admitting their child to a rehabilitation center is inconceivable.  I get it, however if you’re reading this and can identify behaviors that are happening with your son, it’s time to face the hard facts.  You’re responsible for his safety.

I’ve seen many tears fall over the years as parents made the tough decision to seek out inpatient programs.  I’ve also seen some of those same parents full of joy and happiness after their son received intensive therapy and stabilized.   Keep in mind, your son is not rational if he’s reached this step.  He needs more help than what you can provide.  Likely he doesn’t want help, but you know his life may depend on it.

My advice is this.  If you’re experiencing any of these examples with your son get him to the emergency room and get the process started; get him stabilized (that’s key).  After stabilization is achieved, immediately work the above steps by moving down the ladder!  It is very important that once stabilized and regulated don’t stop, there is still hard work to be done. 

Residential programs may also be necessary and/or recommended for your son in this final step.  Residential programs include living and attending school at the facility.  These can include military or boarding schools which are an extended stay environment.  Again, I stress making the right decision for your son and family, with the ultimate goal being to do what it takes to keep everyone safe.

This last step is certainly the toughest one.  It’s the most difficult to address, and there isn’t an easy way.  Think of this final step as a marathon not a race.  Don’t forget to breathe and take care of yourself too.  Seek counseling when you need support and take a break when you need it!


Clayton Lessor
Clayton Lessor, PhD in education and counseling, is a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice. He is author of "Generation of Men: How to raise your son to be a healthy man among men" and “Saving Our Sons: A Parent's Guide to Preparing Boys for Success." Dr. Clay has seen over 2000 boys since 2000 and facilitated over 300 The Quest Project groups. Boys attend a 10-week "boys to men program" where they and their parents will learn the tools needed to get through these turbulent teen years. Dr. Clay is a member of the Steering Committee for The Coalition to Create a White House Council for Boys and Men.
Clayton Lessor
Clayton Lessor

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  1. I’d like to point out that MANY (if not all) of the “therapeutic boarding schools” are FOR PROFIT, have zero over sight or monitoring by actual professionals, conduct wildly abusive practices on young people who need help (not cult like psychological abuse disguised as therapy), and finally they prey on desperate parents by charging ridiculous fees to attend the “school”. These places have no educational instruction. Your child will be doing work at their own pace out of a 1985 workbook all while having zero instruction from an actual teacher. The fact that your child will be 110% isolated, therefore unable to report ABUSE, should be a giant glowing red flag with fireworks shooting out of it. These places will manipulate you, the parent, into disregarding reports of abuse from your child. They will tell you your child is “manipulating” or “not working the program” etc. If you care one ounce about your child DO NOT SEND THEM OFF AND FINANCE THEIR ABUSE!!! The lasting effects of abandonment and abuse they will CERTAINLY endure will do nothing but further harm your child and your family relationship. Google “Ben Trane Conviction” …. he was recently convicted of sexual abuse and child endangerment… he was the DIRECTOR OF A RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT SCHOOL like the ones being suggested here!! As a person who was abused by this industry, I can tell you the choice to ship your kid offonly damages them more. Kiss your child EVER healing or trusting you again the second you let them get taken by a transport service or dump them off in one of these sick twisted facilities.

    • Thank you for your comments. Although I have not had similar experiences with “inpatient treatment” facilities this certainly serves as a time for a reminder. It is very important that parent(s) do their due diligence, research and even tour a facility being considered for their child.

    • I couldn’t have said it better myself, I was personally at 8 different facilities and they were all horrible. To make things worse I was an orphan so they didn’t have to answer to anyone about my well being.
      All they want is your money, don’t let them fool you that they actually care because they don’t. They make deals with huge pharmaceutical companies and drug kids up with narcodic medication, they even do placebo trials and treat the kids like guinie pigs. Don’t send kids here, or to any thing similar to these facilities. If they don’t care about orphans, what makes you think they care about adopted kids ?

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