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Kidz: The Difficult Years

Written by Lane Gormley, EdS, LPC, NCC

Grady is very handsome. He is close to 6″4″ tall with his father”s striking good looks. He is a musician. He is sophisticated in dress – mostly black pants and dark tee shirts – and speech, and young women find him irresistible. An older girl wrote on his Facebook wall, “I find you interesting.”

The problem is that Grady is only 12 years old. Even his mother forgets this. Grady is an only child and probably the only teenage boy she has ever met. She is frequently puzzled and, at times, outraged by the things that he does. I have explained to her that she will only have to go through another 10 years of this – until, between the ages of 21 and 22, his physical brain development is completed. Yes, that is correct. The physical brain is not fully developed until the individual reaches his early twenties. Until then, we may expect a certain amount of mayhem.

An issue that can interfere with the development of the pre-teens and teens of 2012 is lack of structure. When I was a young girl (back in Greco-Roman times), childhood and adolescence were very regulated. I went to a strict school where I wore a uniform. After school, I took ballet class (my choice), practiced the piano (my mother”s wish), and did homework. I had far fewer choices to confuse me than children do today. No cell phone calls or texts interrupted me as I practiced the Chopin Etudes. On some nights, I could read Anna Karenina until time for bed. My friends would be unseen and unheard from until the following day. It was gloriously peaceful and maybe even a bit boring… I don”t remember if it was or not; but I do remember it fondly. My young Clients do not have such an easy time of it. They are harassed to death by media and messages, awakened at three AM by texts, distracted to the point of being completely unable to focus, and yet still expected to perform. Their lives are chaotic, and yet we wonder why ADD and ADHD are so commonplace.

The chief developmental task of the teenager, aligning with a peer group, can be another issue. The teenager will go to great lengths to fit in with peers, so their choice of peers is important. If their chosen peers drink alcohol or take drugs, it is hard to resist that influence. This is why parents should speak often about their values and insist on meeting their children”s friends.

The possibility of dangerous choices can be another pitfall. Parents should consider talking to teens about drugs, sexual behaviors, venereal disease, and early pregnancy. I am well aware that some parents do not wish to do this. Some fear being embarrassed. Others think that their children are too innocent. Still others don”t talk about these things for religious reasons. Just be aware of one thing: what you don”t tell them, someone else will. It might be someone their age who doesn”t know as much as you do and who does not share your views. Two weeks ago, I told a sexually-active 14-year-old girl about the possible consequences of her behaviors. She was surprised. Here are some things she didn”t know or hadn”t thought about:

  • Pregnancy can happen even with a condom.
  • Condoms and birth control pills do not prevent venereal disease.
  • Genital Herpes is incurable, a lifelong strain on the immune system.
  • HPV has been linked to cervical cancer.
  • When a 16-year-old boy says I love you, he may be speaking from an overpowering physical need.
  • It is difficult to raise a baby when you are still a child.

If you can”t talk about this with your teenager, I will do it for you; but, really, someone should.

Parents themselves can be another issue. They can be hesitant about setting and enforcing rules. Many of today”s parents were brought up by participants in the drug cultures of the mid- to late- twentieth century. That was an age when many individuals thought more about themselves than about their children, an age when parenting often went by the wayside. Today”s parents often make a vow to themselves: I will never bring up a child the way my parents raised me. They are often so loving and so understanding of their children that they do not give them the structures that will keep them safe.

Above all, remember that these are children and that they do not know what they think they know. It is our job to teach them. Many of them speak with great authority and confidence. Don”t believe them. Don”t be deceived by their apparent sophistication. They are, in many respects, clueless. Here is a story about that:

My thesis director”s younger son was not as conservative, careful, obedient, and thoughtful as his older brother. When it was time for his father to teach him to drive, they got into the car, and Matthew said, “Now, Dad, please… No lectures. I have been watching you do this my entire life, and I know exactly what to do.” With that, he turned on the engine, put the car into gear, and drove Walter”s 1960 Mercedes 190SL through the back wall of the garage into the vegetable garden.

So, basically, to summarize:

  • Know who they are. Know who their friends are.
  • Don”t let your love for them matter more to you than their safety. Ask questions about where they are going, what they are doing, and why.
  • Talk to them. Tell them what you think and why you think that. They may pretend not to be listening, but they are.
  • Don”t believe what they say until you confirm it.

If you need help with them, come and see us. We like them, and there is a good chance that they will talk to us.

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Social Reviews

Ray of Hope Counseling Services IconRay of Hope Counseling Services

4255 Wade Green Road Northwest Suite 414, Kennesaw

3.4 51 reviews

  • Avatar Brandi McEachern ★★★★★ 8 months ago
    I highly recommend Lana Green! She was awesome at working with my child during a transitional time in my child's life. She was great at keeping us focused on age appropriateness in a wide array of topics. She determined my child's … More interests and developed bonds in this manner. Highly recommend her services!
  • Avatar Michael Porzio ★★★★★ 8 months ago
    I highly recommend Jaime Jenkins!! She was able to connect with my eldest son and get him to open up comfortably immediately! Typically it would take someone working with him quite some time for him to open up.
    Jaime is highly skilled
    … More and showed it by navigating my son's avoidance, his natural defense mechanisms.
    Jaime truly cares about the children!!! She watches them, listens to them, not just their words but their whole demeanor/body language. Sometimes their actions (what they do) and body language are screaming one thing while the therapist is being told/presented with something else.
    Jaime is an experienced therapist with the tools needed to connect and discover the core.
    Her methods at making children comfortable are unparalleled.
    Jaime was awesome at working with both of my children in this very traumatic time of their little lives. She will help. She will see what others are trying to hide. She will go to bat for your children. Jaime truly cares about those children! The children are what's most important, they are our future!
    Thank you for everything Jaime! I am so grateful you were chose by their mother/worked with their mother. God knew what he was doing putting you in our boys lives!!
  • Avatar Nelli Vergilis ★★★★★ a year ago
    I loved my tele session. It was easy to connect and talking to my therapist felt even more productive, as I was not stressed by traffic. Ms.James made me feel supported and heard. And I learned how to handle my hurdles better at the … More very first session. I recommend this practice. You can live anywhere and have a wonderful therapist at your fingertips. THANK YOU.
  • Avatar Christy Berrio ★★★★★ 8 months ago
    Giana is truly amazing! She has helped our family in more ways than one and we’re truly grateful for her!
  • Avatar Vanessa Erario ★★★★★ a year ago
    Excellent experience at Ray of Hope @ Kennesaw, Ga. Ms. Jamie J. is so awesome and wonderful. My two young children see her and they and myself love her and enjoy the visit, atmosphere and professionalism. My children can be shy at times, … More but opened up right at the first hello. I would refer anyone to Ray of Hope and to Ms. Jamie J. She helps in so many ways with my children and myself. We have made so much progress and we could not be more happier. Thank you!
  • Avatar Michaela Estes ★★★★★ a year ago
    I see Mrs Gianna and she is Absolutely AMAZING!!
    By far the BEST counselor I ever had. She genuinely cares and she shows it every session... I had a rough past before I got to her, and she makes the progression to a better you, much more
    … More easy.. she walks you through how to better yourself and never fails to remind you she is there. I’d give her 10 stars if I could. DEFINITELY WOULD RECOMMEND
  • Avatar Danielle P ★★★★★ a year ago
    Jamie Jenkins is great! I feel like she is the perfect therapist for me. Validating and open-minded. She knows I like my conversations to be more casual and she is accommodating in that way because formality makes me shut down.
  • Avatar Erica ★★★★★ a year ago
    Ray of Hope has been really great for myself and my kids to have an outlet you talk about life and the challenges we face. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for someone to talk too. It is well worth it.
  • Avatar Waeni Watuma ★★★★★ a year ago
    I have been going to Ray of Hope for a year now and it has changed my life honestly - everyone there is so nice and I love my therapist she is amazing ! Misty is honestly heaven sent.
  • Avatar Phoenix Bray ★★★★★ a year ago
    Love Ray of Hope Counseling. Meghan Michalewicz has helped me through some tough stuff and I am so appreciative of the advice.
  • A Google User ★★★★★ a year ago
    I loved my tele session. It was easy to connect and talking to my therapist felt even more productive, as I was not stressed by traffic. Ms.James made me feel supported and heard. And I learned how to handle my hurdles better at the … More very first session. I recommend this practice. You can live anywhere and have a wonderful therapist at your fingertips. THANK YOU.
  • Avatar Nina Cantrell ★★★★★ a year ago
    Giada Martini is a very genuine, kind person that makes you really feel she's there for you personally & not just professionally. Her office is very easy space to be in to boot!
  • Avatar Victoria Thomas ★★★★★ 2 years ago
    This place is such a tranquil respite if you need somewhere safe to unwind, process grief, heal, or feel strengthened on your journey. Gianna Martini has been an absolute godsend, and I don't think you'll find anyone more caring, … More empathetic, and compassionate. She's kindhearted, an intuitive listener, insightful, and wise. Gianna truly cares about her clients, and I've so appreciated her support and wisdom.
  • Avatar Anonymous Anonymous ★★★★★ a year ago
    Lane Gormely is the absolute best. Her experience is undeniable-hands down.
  • Avatar Casey Graebner ★★★★★ a year ago
    Great counseling service for my son who is dealing with some hard problems. Very helpful.

Ray of Hope Counseling Services
Based on 19 Reviews
Princess O.
Princess O.
2021-03-23 07:44:54
Called hoping to make a new patient appt. was told no nights/weekends available in my area unless I'm a self pay. Are u serious! So let's avoid using the...
K T.
K T.
2021-01-26 15:09:10
I scheduled with Lana Greene for my 11yr old daughter but got put with Amy Rozett. Worst counselor appointment I've ever been to and I've been to many...
Nadine M.
Nadine M.
2020-12-16 09:44:07
I called on behalf of my son to book an appointment. He has a generalized anxiety disorder and we are looking for a new psychiatrist for him. Many offices...
Ashley T.
Ashley T.
2020-01-14 12:03:44
I can't attest to the qualifications of the therapists, but the office staff isn't the best. I left two messages (because no one ever answered the phone) to...
Vicki T.
Vicki T.
2019-07-26 22:36:28
I love this place and feel especially grateful for Gianna Martini who has been a godsend to me. A very intuitive listener, she's kind, caring, and...
Shelly K.
Shelly K.
2019-03-22 11:46:51
Receptionist extremely rude and unhelpful, needs some training on customer service.
Lisa S.
Lisa S.
2018-05-01 09:56:20
I am going here for a multitude of reasons. Mainly for my almost 9 year old to have someone to talk to. Lauren Sanders is AMAZING. We both love her and...
Brad C.
Brad C.
2017-02-08 11:26:06
Despite all the bad reviews all over the internet of this place, I decided to give them them a go anyway. MISTAKE. The billing system and the way they...