Parents of teenagers need to be supported not criticised, according to advice charity Parentline Plus.
A report by the charity due to be published tomorrow reveals that many parents of teenagers had already been let down by various agencies by the time they eventually found support.
Similarly, every parent on a parenting order who the charity had worked with had been asking for help for years but been told their difficulties with their child were not sufficiently serious to make them eligible for support.
Parentline Plus is calling for more family support services focused on building general parenting skills, such as communication skills, self-esteem and confidence. Those working with parents of teenagers also should play a greater role in enabling parents to set boundaries around risky behaviours and to keep communication channels open, and school staff in particular should be trained in working with families and in signposting parents and teenagers to sources of other support.
The report reveals that almost half of all calls to Parentline Plus are from parents of teenagers who feel ineffective and unable to deal with the difficulties presented by their children. Their sense of failure is compounded by the increasingly punitive measures being introduced for parents who do not “control” their children’s antisocial behaviour.
“The challenge to policy makers, commissioners and providers is to deliver a flexible and appropriate support service backed by adequate and long-term investment which breaks through the isolation experienced by parents of teenagers,” said charity chief executive Dorit Braun.
“Parents should also influence the development of the support offered to them. This is a key component of the extended schools programme.”
The Highs and Lows: The Challenge of Parenting Teenagers will be available from Wednesday 26 April at www.parentlineplus.org.uk.