Home » Ask Dr. Mike »Columns » Currently Reading:

Concerned Parents

February 1, 2017 by Blue Ridge Leader filed under Ask Dr. Mike, Columns No Comments
drmikenewpic

By Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D.
Dr. Mike,
Our 15-year-old son is out of control and we don’t know what to do anymore. He smokes pot and drinks, disobeys us left and right, is truant from school often, comes home whenever he wants to and screams at us when we try to correct him. He used to be an amazing kid and athlete, but he quit all sports and he’s no longer himself. We’ve tried therapy, but he refused to go. The crazy thing is that we have no idea why he changed. His problems started in freshman year of high school and have gotten worse this academic year. We are very worried about him and we are also very worried about his younger siblings who are very upset their brother. My husband wants to send our son to military academy, but I am worried that he would hate us if we did that and that he would also probably do something crazy like run away or attempt suicide. The suicide of that freshman boy at Stone Bridge High School last month has really freaked us out. We don’t want that to be our boy and we don’t know what to do. We know we need to act fast and hope you can respond to this letter.
Concerned Parents

Dear Concerned Parents,
I’m sorry that your son is struggling as much as he is, and I appreciate the negative and painful impact his behaviors have had on you all as a family. Not having evaluated your son, my recommendations, as well as my support and guidance, will be limited, but I hope the following is helpful to you.

While I understand your husband’s thinking on getting control over things by sending your son to a military academy, your son is likely not a good fit for that sort of setting given his needs. More specifically, your son seems to be a very angry young man who is acting-out in a number of very concerning ways; his struggles may have an emotional or psychological basis (e.g., depression) and/or may be due to his substance use – irritability, anger and being oppositional and defiant can be symptoms of teen depression and/or substance abuse.

In my experience, military academies are not equipped to treat, and most will not even accept, teens with significant mental health struggles and needs. You should also know that military school tuition isn’t inexpensive, and if your son is dismissed after being enrolled, a lot of military schools won’t refund your tuition. Unfortunately, as a psychologist, I’ve seen many families lose tens of thousands of dollars in these sorts of moments. In addition to losing money, the wrong sort of placement could actually make things worse for your son as well.

In my opinion, your son needs to be thoroughly evaluated and ASAP. There is a possibility that all he needs is increased structure and discipline away from home for things to improve (i.e. a military school or boarding school setting), but unless you get him evaluated, you won’t really know how bad things are for him or what he really needs in order to get better.

If his emotional and/or substance use issues are significant (and it appears they are based on what you’ve written), and if he remains unwilling to get help locally, and if you feel that you’ve exhausted all other options, I think you should then take unilateral action as parents on your son’s behalf. Similar to if your son had cancer and was refusing treatment that would help him to recover, you would override him at 15 to get him the help he needed. Given what you’ve shared, your son appears to be on a very steep downward spiral, and he may be a candidate for a program outside of the home – a residential treatment center, therapeutic boarding school, and/or a wilderness program – and he may need to go away to get better against his will. Yes, he will likely be angry with you initially if you decide to send him to a program, but in the right environment and at the right program he will be evaluated and his needs will finally get addressed; his anger should dissipate as he make progress and improves.

Again, I appreciate the seriousness and the urgency of your moment, and at this point, I strongly recommend that you turn to a professional who specializes in placements in your son’s area of need if your son remains unwilling to address his problems with you at home. The School Counseling Group in Washington, DC has been my go-to referral for these sorts of moments for over a decade now. Peter Sturtevant is the director of the group and a top-shelf professional, and he would be a good person to speak to. He can be reached at: 202-333-3530. I also invite you to call me directly at: 703-723-2999 should you have more questions for me or for additional support and guidance.

Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist in private practice. His new children’s book, ‘Ollie Outside’ is released through Free Spirit Publishing. Go to AshburnPsych.com or call 703 723-2999 for more.

Comment on this article


By commenting, you agree to abide by our Terms of Service.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Columns

The Holocene Climate

noerpel_new

(Public Input Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, 7 March, 2017) Figure 1 shows the climate variation over the last million years. The low points on the curve correspond to ice ages when glaciers up to a mile thick covered New …

Choosing To Forgive

moore-sobelnewmug

By Samuel Moore-Sobel “Truly forgiving is the ability to say, ‘Thank you for giving me that experience.’” James Arthur Ray vaulted into fame on the Oprah Winfrey Show back in the mid-2000’s. Stunned hearing these words while watching The Rise and …

Five Key Retirement Questions

Smith0035

Beyond asking yourself where you see yourself and even what your lifelong goal are, effective retirement and longevity planning begs some very big questions. Review the points below and consider how housing, transportation and health considerations all play a role …

Work Woes

drmikenewpic

By Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D. Dr. Mike, I’m a manager at a large tech company and my boss has directed me to fire someone on my team, but as a Christian, I just can’t do it. It’s true that the employee …

Joy or Suffering

Lunde new

By Mary Rose Lunde No one likes to suffer. When given the chance, many people would choose to laugh rather than cry, to sit in silence with their friends rather than talk through their feelings, because not even their friends …

Wage Radio

wage

I will always remember – very fondly – the first time I ever set foot on the property at 711 Wage Drive Southwest in Leesburg, Virginia. It was a warm, sunny July morning in 1997, and I’d driven all the …

Speaking Truth to Power

noerpel_new

“With public sentiment nothing can fail. Without it nothing can succeed.” Abraham Lincoln On Thursday evening, February 23, I requested the Board of Supervisors pass a proclamation resolving to support the March for Science on Earth Day, April 22 [1]. …

Student News

Congratulations, Class of 2016

6 Jul 2016

grads_woodgrove

Woodgrove High School’s Class Of 2016 Graduation – By Amanda Clark On June 16, Woodgrove’s Class of 2016 was the 5th graduating class to walk the stage and accept their diploma. The ceremony was filled with anticipation as the chorus, …

(Be the first to comment)

Buckland Earns Degree In Medicine

6 Jul 2016

buckland

Molly Buckland, D.O., graduated from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine with a degree of Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine on May 28. While at WVSOM, Dr. Buckland received the Dr. Roland P. Sharp President’s Award and the James R. …

(Be the first to comment)

Adams Promoted To Lieutenant

6 Jul 2016

adamspromoted

Lt. James Adams, from Sterling and a Potomac Falls Halls Graduate, earned the promotion to the rank of Lieutenant. Adams is a Navy Week and Executive Outreach Planner for the Navy Office of Community Outreach in Millington, Tennessee. U.S. Navy …

(Be the first to comment)

Calendar

March 2017
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
February 27, 2017 February 28, 2017 March 1, 2017 March 2, 2017 March 3, 2017

LAST HAM STANDING COMEDY IMPROV

LAST HAM STANDING COMEDY IMPROV
March 4, 2017

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event
March 5, 2017
March 6, 2017 March 7, 2017 March 8, 2017 March 9, 2017 March 10, 2017 March 11, 2017 March 12, 2017
March 13, 2017 March 14, 2017 March 15, 2017 March 16, 2017 March 17, 2017 March 18, 2017

Wine & Chili Weekend

Wine & Chili Weekend
March 19, 2017

Joshua Carr River Safety Foundation Rummage Sale

Joshua Carr River Safety Foundation Rummage Sale
March 20, 2017 March 21, 2017 March 22, 2017 March 23, 2017 March 24, 2017

March Fourth Friday

March Fourth Friday
March 25, 2017 March 26, 2017

Spring Brunch

Spring Brunch

Spring Brunch

Spring Brunch
March 27, 2017 March 28, 2017 March 29, 2017 March 30, 2017 March 31, 2017 April 1, 2017

”Homage to Mother Earth”

”Homage to Mother Earth”

Nebbiolo Vertical Tasting

Nebbiolo Vertical Tasting

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

Old Time Country Ham and Turkey Dinner

Old Time Country Ham and Turkey Dinner
April 2, 2017

”Homage to Mother Earth”

”Homage to Mother Earth”

GALLERY COFFEEHOUSE: Readers Theater, “One Slight Hitch”

GALLERY COFFEEHOUSE: Readers Theater, “One Slight Hitch”
Current Print Issue:
Sign up for our email newsletter:

Recent Comments

  • David on Protecting Free Speech: Constitutionally protected speech is exactly what it sounds like, protected. We all have the legal right to utter nonsensical and...
  • Martha on Protecting Free Speech: Free speech is not a cherished right at the not-quite accredited Patrick Henry College, a religious school that Del. LaRock...
  • Martha Polkey on First Look at Envision Loudoun Results: It remains to be seen whether the direction citizens have provided to the Envision process is actually incorporated into the...
  • David on Protecting Free Speech: Mr. LaRock, I assume that the only reason you weren’t at every School Board meeting in 2005 passionately defending the...
  • LongTimePville on Purcellville Emergency Meeting Postponed to March 10: I bet Kelli Grim flip flops on her conflicts of interest and transparency campaign she ran on and does not...

Steady and NoBull

Lifestyle

Sterling Library Moving To New Location

25 Mar 2017

Library

Sterling Library’s current location, 120 Enterprise St., Sterling, will close beginning Saturday, March 25, to prepare for the opening of the new Sterling Library on Saturday, April 15. Patrons can return library materials using the drop box at the new location, 22330 S. Sterling Boulevard. Printer-friendly Related

(Be the first to comment)

Middleburg Gallery Presents Country Pursuits Exhibit

25 Mar 2017

Mr and Mrs Andrews 24x35 59 2016 whelan

The Gallery on Madison in Middleburg is presenting an exhibit of Brian Whelan’s (a London Irish painter now settled in Waterford) ) transcriptions of a gallery of paintings by Thomas Gainsborough, ‘Mr. and Mrs. Andrews’ through April 2. The exhibit includes 23 paintings, two masks, two graphics, and nine preparatory drawings. Printer-friendly Related

(Be the first to comment)

Loudoun Workforce Resource Center Presents STEM Career Fair March 28

16 Mar 2017

Illustration of STEM education word typography design in orange theme with icon ornament elements

Anyone interested in a career in the rapidly growing field of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is encouraged to attend an upcoming STEM Career Fair in Loudoun. The Loudoun Workforce Resource Center, in partnership with Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC)’s Loudoun campus and NOVA SySTEMic Solutions, is holding a STEM Career Fair Tuesday, March 28, from 1:00 to 4:00 …

(Be the first to comment)

Around Virginia

Virginia Schools Kick Off Statewide Campaign To Encourage Safe Teen Driving

image004

More teen drivers in Virginia will be involved in traffic crashes between the months of May and August than any other time of the year, statistics show. To help save lives and prevent such crashes during the high-risk warm weather months, Virginia schools are kicking off a statewide teen safety …

(Be the first to comment)

Protecting Free Speech

Dave_larock

By Dave LaRock (R-33) As elected officials and members of the legislature, our most fundamental responsibility is to protect God-given constitutionally protected rights. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits the government, including governmental public colleges and universities, from infringing on free speech and the free exercise of …

(3 comments)

Walbridge To Run for State Delegate in the 33rd District

Tia walbridge

Tia Walbridge announces her run for the District 33 seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. Walbridge is a wife and mother of two daughters and an active member of the Round Hill community. “Like many people in our district, my family has found its prosperity in a Virginia-based small …

(Be the first to comment)

Sports

Vikings Runner-Up at the State Championship 

8 Mar 2017

vikings

The Loudoun Valley Vikings are the boy’s runner-up at the VHSL 4A State Indoor Track and Field Championships at Roanoke College.  During the 2015-2016 school year, the Loudoun County School Board approved Indoor Track and Field as a Tier 2 (self-funded) sport.  The seven boys competing scored 48 points, second …

(Be the first to comment)

WLVBC U14 Boys Finish 3rd at VA Beach Event

23 Feb 2017

WLVBC300

The Western Loudoun Volleyball Club’s U14 Boys Team garnered 3rd place in their first travel tournament of 2017, the Virginia Beach Invitational. This event was held Feb. 18-19 and featured more than 24 teams from the U14 to U18 age group. The team was second on their net on day …

(Be the first to comment)

Archives

  • +2017
  • +2016
  • +2015
  • +2014
  • +2013
  • +2012
  • +2011
  • +2010
  • +2009