Support Groups for Parents of Troubled Teens

Small group of people in community center
Barry Rosenthal / Getty Images

When most people think of support groups, groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) might be the first thing that comes to mind. But there are many other groups that exist to help people dealing with a variety of issues—including raising troubled teens.

A parenting support group can provide comfort and advice from others in the same situation. These groups are available in most communities as well as online.

How Support Groups Help

Initially, it may be difficult to understand the point of participating in a support group. It's the teen who has the problem, so how does a parent benefit from participating in this type of group?

Rarely does a teen have a serious problem that doesn't soon have a strong impact on the parent as well. You not only have to put up with your teen's behavioral problems at home, but you may also be dealing with complicated systems, like the educational system, legal system, and mental health system. 

Parent support groups are designed to provide a setting in which parents can exchange information, reduce stress and find ways to cope with a troubled teen. It's like being coached, supported, educated and cared about by other parents who understand what you're going through.

Reasons to Join a Parent Support Group

There are a number of reasons to consider joining a parent support group in your area or online. Here are some of the biggest reasons you might consider joining one:

  • You'll get to talk to other parents who understand the types of problems, turmoil, and roadblocks you experience. 
  • You may gain a sense of hope from parents whose teens are making progress.
  • You can get assistance in brainstorming ideas for how to respond to a difficult teen.
  • Attending a support group will ensure you are carving out time to sort out your thoughts about your teen and make plans to take positive action.
  • You can hear other parents' experiences with treatment programs for their teens. You may gain information about what services they have found helpful.
  • You may gain a better perspective on your teen's situation.
  • You could learn tools for improved communication and parenting skills.
  • You can get referrals to therapists or outpatient programs in your area that other parents know are effective.​
  • You can receive feedback about whether you may be over- or under-reacting to your teens' problems from parents dealing with similar problems.
  • You'll likely find solace in the fact that you are not alone.
  • You may avoid making mistakes with your teen by listening to what other parents have tried that didn't work.
  • You can help other parents by sharing your thoughts, experience, and advice.
  • The group can share information about books, websites, and other helpful parenting resources.
  • You can receive help from others in dealing with a crisis teen situation.
  • There's a good chance you might find an opportunity to keep your sense of humor. Even though many things troubled teens do are risky, there may be some silly things that you're able to laugh at once in a while, too. 
  • Vent the uncomfortable feelings that come up in dealing with a difficult teen with parents who won't judge and may be able to offer advice.
  • Counteract any fears that it's your fault your teen is troubled by relating to other parents dealing with the same challenges.

How to Find a Parent Support Group

Some groups are more structured than others; some focus more on parent education and others focus primarily on giving and receiving support. Consider your needs before searching for a group. 

Here are a few ways you might locate a group:

  • Search online for a listing of groups in your area.
  • Look for online support groups that can connect you to parents who may also be dealing with similar issues, like truancy or substance abuse. 
  • Ask for suggestions from professionals who work with teens.
  • Contact the medical and mental health facilities in your area for listings of community support groups.
  • Look into nationwide parent support groups like ToughLove and Because I Love You (BILY).
  • Ask your teen's physician for a referral to a support group.
2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Parsons C. Evidenced-Based Care of Adolescents and Families in Crisis. Nursing Clinics of North America. 2016;51(2):249-260. doi:10.1016/j.cnur.2016.01.008

  2. Bray L, Carter B, Sanders C, Blake L, Keegan K. Parent-to-parent peer support for parents of children with a disability: A mixed method study. Patient Educ Couns. 2017;100(8):1537-1543. doi:10.1016/j.pec.2017.03.004

Additional Reading

By Amy Morin, LCSW
Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk,  "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.