If the child you adore has phased to someone unrecognizable—seismic moods, willfulness, disrespect for the family’s rules and traditions, even experimentation with harmful substances, here are a few suggestions for riding out the storm.
Make Home More Pleasant Than Ever
When my son went off grid for awhile, I, too, was figuratively off grid, involved in a professional project that had practically swallowed me whole. Things like regular dinners on the table, well-ordered, clean spaces in which my kids could work and play, and a general sense of organization had gone out the window. I’ve realized that children of every age thrive in a well-run environment. Now, that’s never been my strong suit. Those of us with artistic temperaments may struggle with the daily grind that involves things like cleaning out the fridge, keeping on top of laundry (and I don’t mean sitting on top of a six-foot-high pile), maintaining kids’ schedules. I’m still no pro. But when I had a child in crisis, the first thing I began doing was cooking. I wanted the house to smell heavenly. My rationale was that if I could make my home more appealing, my son would want to linger there instead of heading out with the friends who had derailed him. Food equals so many things: nourishment, comfort, opportunities for family bonding, even a sense of predictability, if it’s served regularly. Never one to want to ‘bind’ myself to a schedule, I seldom had meals on the table at the same time every night. Given all that my children are involved in both in school and outside of it, the supper-on-the-table-at-six thing still has me in a bit of a tangle.
Curiously, one of the first things my son did when he began to ‘come back,’ so to speak, was sit down at the table to eat dinner with us. To anyone else, this might have seemed like an inconsequential thing; to my husband and to me, it was epic. Having all of our children around the table once again was…