Parenting teenagers has fairly earned a reputation as one of the most difficult tasks involved with bringing new life into this world. Teenagers are in the process of developing their own sense of the world and their personalities, which means that they will often lash out at their parents and other authority figures.
For many teenagers, the line between what is rebellious and what is illegal may be somewhat blurry. Teenagers may want to try experimenting with drugs, drinking with friends at parties, stealing a car to go on a joyride or even getting into physical altercations with their peers. Any of those forms of juvenile rebellion could result in criminal charges against your teen.
Although you obviously want them to feel the severity of what they have done and understand that there are consequences for their actions, leaving them to their own devices while facing pending juvenile criminal charges could have a devastating effect on your child's future. Instead of telling your child to deal with their own mistake, you want to support them as they process the consequences of their actions.
Your child needs legal support so they can still have a future
Certain kinds of criminal offenses won't be a major deal as your child ages. Minor offenses such as truancy or even alcohol possession may wind up sealed or expunged by the courts when your child is older. However, many kinds of charges can stick and affect their job prospects, high school enrollment and the potential for college.
Drug crimes, violent offenses and other serious charges all deserve a defense. Even minor in possession charges justify a defense, as they could saddle your child with a criminal record that impacts them for many years. A public defender may not give your child's case the focus it requires.
Helping your child secure the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney doesn't mean your child won't learn from their mistakes. It only means that those mistakes won't necessarily continue to haunt them for years to come.
Your child needs guidance, advice and understanding
When you pick up your child after an arrest, the natural reflex for many parents is to chastise the child at length. However, that is going to force your child to shut down emotionally or make them feel as though they can't come to you. More importantly, attacking them may make them feel defensive, which is the opposite of what you want.
Give them space and time to process the arrest before you sit down and talk about the issue. You, as the parent, need to maintain the right atmosphere. Stay calm, focus on facts and explain to your child why what they did was wrong and how it could impact their future.
Once they tell you their side of the story and make it clear they understand the mistake that they made and the potential consequences, then you can address household penalties such as grounding or taking away their phone.
Make sure they know that those penalties are there to reinforce what you just talked about so that they don't make the same mistake in the future, not simply because you're mad at them. Most importantly, make sure your child knows that you still love and support them despite the fact that they made a mistake.
Your teen will need emotional and psychological support
Even many adults have a hard time understanding what motivates them to engage in self-destructive behavior. If you want your teenager to avoid making similar mistakes that could affect their future, both you and they need to have an understanding of why they lash out the way that they did.
Whether it was peer pressure, a symptom of developmental depression or perhaps an expression of their struggle with self-worth, getting to the bottom of what provoked the behavior will benefit you and your teen. Working with a psychologist or social worker, including one provided by your attorney, could make it much easier for your family to process and understand the actions that led to criminal charges.