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Resources: Parents of Troubled Teens


Parents of Troubled Teens


Find Focus on the Family broadcasts, best-in-class books,
referral recommendations, and more.

Boundaries With Teens by Dr. John Townsend 
Discover how to set healthy boundaries for yourself and your teen. This book also includes a section on dealing with special situations like drug and alcohol use, sex, defiance, school, and disrespect.

A Bump in Life by Amy Ford (not currently available through Focus on the Family)
“True Stories of Hope & Courage During an Unplanned Pregnancy”

The DNA of Parent-Teen Relationships by Gary Smalley, Dr. Greg Smalley 
Conflict is an inevitable part of any home with a teenager. Father and son authors use family stories to illustrate the power of respecting and honoring each other.

Emotions: Can You Trust Them? by Dr. James Dobson 
Practical guidelines help teens and parents understand, control, and channel emotions. Topics covered include guilt, romantic love, anger, and God’s will.

Engaging Today’s Prodigal by Carol Barnier 
A former prodigal, Barnier encourages parents who face sorrow and guilt because their child stepped away from God’s leading.

Inside a Cutter’s Mind by Jerusha Clark and Dr. Earl Henslin 
“Understanding and Helping Those Who Self-Injure”

Life, in Spite of Me: Extraordinary Hope After a Fatal Choice by Kristen Anderson and Tricia Goyer
Recounting her miraculous survival of a suicide attempt in which a train severed her legs, Anderson shares how her faith in God helped her overcome severe depression and shame—as well as the challenges of permanent physical disability.

Mom, I Hate My Life! by Sharon A. Hersh
“Becoming Your Daughter’s Ally Through the Emotional Ups and Downs of Adolescence”

Parenting Isn’t for Cowards by Dr. James Dobson 
“The ‘You Can Do It’ Guide for Hassled Parents”

Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter by Janet Thompson 
Sharing from her experience as a prodigal daughter and as the mother of a prodigal daughter, Thompson offers hope and encouragement to hurting parents by teaching them how to pray for their daughters.

When Good Kids Make Bad Choices by Elyse Fitzpatrick, Jim Newheiser, and Laura Hendrickson 
“Help and Hope for Hurting Parents”

When Your Teenager Becomes the Stranger in Your House Gregory Jantz, Ph.D. 
“What’s going on with your teenager? Is it just the ups and downs of adolescence, or is it something more?”

Why Christian Kids Rebel by Dr. Tim Kimmel 
“Trading Heartache for Hope”

You Are Not Alone by Dena Yohe 
“Hope for Hurting Parents of Troubled Kids”

Bringing Home the Prodigals (Rob Parsons) 
Parsons shares his heart for prodigals and their families. We sometimes make people prodigals by being critical of unimportant things instead of considering the best ways to pray for and demonstrate God’s love. 

Eating Disorders: What Today’s Parents Need to Know (Dr. Dena Cabrera) 
A psychologist, Cabrera shares her past struggles with an eating disorder and offers advice and encouragement to parents. She explains why Christian girls often wrestle with disordered eating.

Finding God’s Mercy When Life Is Messy (Vicki Courtney) 
Courtney shares about her son confessing that he and his fiancée were pregnant. Speaking to parents of prodigal children, she offers hope and encouragement in the midst of difficult situations. And describing how her past choices—including an abortion at age 17—shaped her Christian walk, Courtney challenges us to embrace grace and live out an authentic God-centered faith.

Finding Hope After My Darkest Day (Kristen Anderson) 
Anderson shares her testimony of surviving being run over by a train in a suicide attempt—losing her legs in the process. She recounts the aftermath and coming to faith in Christ, and she talks about what parents can do to reach out to a depressed teen.

Finding Hope in the Midst of Raising Troubled Kids (Tom and Dena Yohe)
The Yohes discuss the struggles with their teen daughter who suffered from depression, substance abuse, and self-injury. They talk about the difficult path to healing and offer hope to other parents of wayward teens.

Game Plan for Parenting: The Teen Years (Dr. Kevin Leman) 
Leman challenges parents to stop fighting their teens. Instead, study them, learn from them, give positive reinforcement whenever possible—and never underestimate the importance of humor.

Helping Kids Make Good Life Choices (Dr. Tim and Mrs. Darcy Kimmel) 
The Kimmels discuss parenting with eternity in mind. They remind parents to emphasize true greatness—not through accomplishments, but by building solid relationships, developing godly character, and cultivating faith in the Lord.

Hope for Women Facing an Unplanned Pregnancy (Amy Ford, Joanna Brown) 
Ford and Brown were active participants in their Christian faith, but both found themselves pregnant and unmarried as teens. They share about dealing with the consequences of these pregnancies, and they offer hope to others going through the same experience. They also challenge the Church to be an accepting place of refuge and encouragement to these girls, so they will not only choose life for their babies but also have the support team they need to move forward in their lives.

Love Healed My Wounds (Dave Roever) 
Roever was badly disfigured when a grenade exploded in his hand during the Vietnam War. Here he encourages young people to hold on through hard times, to not throw their lives away with alcohol and drugs, and to stand strong for what they believe.

Parenting Your Teens When Times Are Tough (Dr. Greg Smalley)
When we’re dealing with a prodigal or a child who just isn’t making the choices we’d make for them, we can find comfort in community and have faith that God is sovereign over our story.

Practical Advice for Drug-Proofing Your Kids (Glenn Williams) 
Williams provides ideas for talking to kids about drugs and how to handle peer pressure. He shares the importance of lifestyle modeling and teachable moments in preparing children to make good choices.

Rescuing Your Teen Daughter From Secret Sins (Jesse Minassian)
Minassian advises parents on helping their daughters deal with common “secret sins” that entrap many teenage girls: cutting, drug abuse, eating disorders, sexual addiction, and same-sex relationships. 

Sound Advice for Parents of Prodigals (Carol Barnier) 
Barnier offers parents practical do’s and don’ts for responding to a prodigal. Learn how to interact in a way that won’t hinder reconciliation but that will also establish healthy boundaries to protect the rest of your family.

Timeless Tips for Building a Strong Family (Rob and Dianne Parsons) 
The Parsons share poignant stories about the value of making time for loved ones. They explain how the parent-child relationship benefits when parents let go of their kids—and how kids find strength when they’re allowed to face challenges.

Launch Into the Teen Years Kit

This six-session online video-based program created by Focus on the Family will help you and your preteen talk about how to make great decisions and soar with confidence. 

Online Video Session Titles:

  • Who Am I? – How God Sees the True You
  • The One About Family, Friends, and Enemies – BFF’s and Boy-Girl Relationships
  • Of Memes & Meanies – Bullies, Criticism, and Voices Worth Listening To
  • Bodies, Sex & Stuff – God Created You
  • What’s Happening to My Body? – Puberty and Relationships
  • The Big Talk – God’s Design for Sex

The Kit Contains:

  • Parent guide
  • Child participant journal
  • Key-code access to online video content
  • Tips on engaging your child, along with questions and activities that will encourage thoughtful consideration and discussion

Additional Details: The video series provides a comprehensive overview of sexual issues related to adolescence and how to talk about them. Viewers follow the experiences of eight young preteens at a camp as they move through activities and challenges that follow each session topic.


A Parent’s Guide to Today’s Technology

This outreach is designed to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving families essential tools they need to understand and impact the culture.


Resource Lists

Focus on the Family Counseling Consultation Line
If you need someone to talk to, Focus on the Family offers a free phone counseling consultation with a licensed or pastoral counselor. Call 1-855-771-HELP (4357), Monday through Friday, 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM (MT). 

Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselor Network
Search for licensed Christian counselors in your area.

Residential Placement

Call the Focus on the Family Counseling Department at 1-855/771-HELP (4357) to discuss residential options for your child, or for Christian therapist referrals. Focus on the Family doesn’t recommend specific residential treatment programs because new directors can change a lot about a program. But we can give you names to contact that might help in your search. It’s often wise to begin with counseling for your child or family before pursuing a residential option.

Teen Camps

For situations that don’t require a residential treatment program, another option is a short-term Christian camp setting. Focus on the Family doesn’t endorse particular camps. But you might look into options represented through the Christian Camp and Conference Association, who offers listings for both general and therapeutic camps.