Beginning the Healing Process

“It can happen in the best of families” is an expression often heard in regard to rebellious teenagers. Indeed, when a teenager goes “off the derech, ” we tend to blame the teenager himself, bad friends or negative influences. We tell ourselves that even a youngster from a “good home” can be swayed by a decadent culture. After nearly 30 years of counseling parents and teenagers in the Orthodox community, I am convinced that this attitude is both detrimental and inaccurate. It is detrimental because it causes parents to feel powerless in preventing this tragedy from happening to their child. One can’t change the basic nature of a child nor can on e totally isolate his child from the environment. It is inaccurate because teens who reject their family’s way of life are far more likely to be reacting to family issues (e.g. anger and hurt resulting from ongoing conflict with their parents) than to innate character flaws or environmental influences.

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