A teenager keeping company with “the wrong crowd” can be a nightmare for parents causing trying troubled teen behavior to go one step too far, often times resulting in many fights. Peer pressure, natural curiosity, and the exhilarating thrill of doing something that is taboo are all powerful influences in your teen’s life and in the wrong crowd those influences will become powerful corruptions.
How, as the parent, do you recognize an inappropriate friendship that could be causing troubled teen behavior in your home? Well, it goes beyond your teenager bringing home a Mets fan to your Yankees fan dominated household. You need to pay attention to slight changes in you teen’s behavior before they become significant disruptions. These slight changes could range the entire spectrum of behavioral patterns, such as: minor curfew infractions like coming home late by 15 to 30 minutes several times in a row; changes in dress like wearing darker, more concealing clothes that reflect a darker mood; changes in speech patterns that convey less information and a lack of respect.
Teens do not come home one day and cause major disruptions and disturbances to your family. Troubled teen behavior grows with time from minor irritancies to major disruptions. Because teens spend a significant portion of their time outside of the home, either in school or out with friends, parental influence can wane but their vigilance must not.
While troubled teens are famous for rebelling and exploring their individuality, and parents should never judge their teen’s friends on first impressions, the fact is that if your teenager is hanging out with a friend or group of friends whose behavior and values conflict with your family’s, it is a problem. Through exploration and curiosity they learn new things about themselves and the world they live in which is not a direct troubled teen behavior. Through imitation and adaptation they grow socially and expand their personality. As a parent, that is what you want them to do. But as the parent it is your duty to monitor your troubled teens behavior, values, and decisions to ensure that they reflect what you consider to be appropriate decisions, values, and behavior.