Exceptional Parents: Raising Unmotivated Teenagers With Support


When is enough, enough? As parents of children who learn differently, we too, must learn differently. We must structure our days and nights in the event of an unforeseen circumstance. Always needing to be proactive and look ahead; it never ends.

The same is not the same thing

Personally, I am a big proponent of treating children with special needs the same as every other kidlet. They have feelings too and want to be loved and valued as anyone does.

Teenagers, as a group, can be very frustrating. By nature, their brains are not fully developed. Their ability to make rational, logical decisions to predict the outcome of their choices is almost non-existent.  This is not meant to be a derogatory statement; it’s just the way it is.   

Similarly, teenagers with a disability have the same challenges in making rational decisions. Add to that, any medical limitations and the level of cognitive thinking.  It is not any better or any worse than raising a typical teenager, it’s just different.  

Motivation situation

Recently, I had a parent call me to ask if I knew of any resources that catered to teenagers, and in particular, underachievers with a bad attitude. This parent wanted to know where she could gain assistance to motivate her teenager. I held back the laughter because it is no secret that trying to motivate a teenager, who doesn’t want to be motivated, is never successful. Of course, the person that invents a pill to do so might become one of the richest people in the world; I’m sure of it. Actually, I kind of felt sorry for her because her shaky voice told me she was at her wits end. I’ve always been under the impression that teenagers would act like teenagers, and they should be treated as such. This time, I had to read a bit more into her predicament.

Here we go round in circles

How can we expect exceptional teenagers to act the same as any young adult, when really, they don’t process information the same? It seems like a vicious circle. We know we have to treat them the same, but we also know that sometimes, it would not be to their benefit. Like typical teenagers, children who learn differently are very hard to reason with.  We just can’t know what they are thinking. With teenagers, we never know what we are going to get.

Help is on the way

Sadly, I did not know the answer for this parent, but I was determined to find something. In my research, I found a great resource; GCF Family Support Services. Readers might already be aware of it. In my opinion, this site has many positive reinforcements for parents of teenagers who need some great motivational assistance.  According to the director, Rene Morrison, parents can connect through Facebook or Listserv. There are a variety of public and private resources for children of various skill levels. Morrison says, “Parents have to dig deep to get to the county they are in.” Counties are listed, and then parents can find the resources within that county.  It is important for me to advocate and find assistance for those who ask. We all have challenges raising our children; typical or special, and we need help sometimes.

Thank you for understanding

Parents needing emotional support or services for their child are encouraged to seek assistance. Many parents might say it is difficult raising teenagers and raising a teenager with a disability is no exception. It is important that people realize parents of special needs children are not asking for sympathy. While we may seem like we know what we are doing, sometimes, we might think no one will understand; so we just don’t say anything.  

C.C. Malloy is a disability advocate and steadfast supporter of special needs children. Any information here should not be considered legal advice and counsel should be sought for personal educational guidance. Please visit her website, Bizigal's Exceptional Blooms.

Categories: A ‘Special’ World, Parenting