Parenting an adolescent boy is never easy. Even the best parents face challenges that can be insurmountable without the help of outside resources, such as a therapeutic boys home. Sending your son to a ranch for troubled youth or an all-boys therapeutic boarding school, for example, is not the last resort option. But, in most cases, the earlier action is taken, the sooner healing can take place.
For many teenage boys, the natural challenges of adolescence combined with societal and familial pressures can lead to any number of emotional or behavioral issues, including but not limited to:
- Rebellion against authority figures (parents, teachers, coaches, etc.)
- A decline in academic performance and/or the emergence of learning disorders, such as ADHD
- Loss of interest in friendships and activities
- Experimentation with drugs, alcohol, and/or risky sexual behaviors
- Engagement in violent and/or criminal behavior
Although behavioral problems among teen boys are relatively common, negative behavior may escalate to an unmanageable degree due to other environmental factors: indifferent teachers, peer pressure, unhealthy friendships or relationships, significant transitions at home (a move, divorce, death of a relative), etc. In many cases, relations at home grow strained after weeks or months of problematic behavior. At this point, a teenage boy may benefit from time spent in an all-boys disciplinary school.
The thought of sending your child off to a boys’ home and spending time apart from them is naturally daunting, but sometimes time spent away from home is the most effective remedy. A group home for boys proves a blank slate for your son, a chance to reinvent himself outside of the destructive patterns of behavior he has fallen into at home or school. At one point or another, nearly every teenage boy finds himself reflexively dismissing a parent’s advice as an act of defiance. This tendency can manifest into a destructive habit. In addition, in a boys’ home, the professionally trained staff can assume a more objective relationship with your child, allowing them to provide third-party counsel with greater chances of being taken seriously.
Boys homes are equipped to remedy a range of behavioral and mental health issues—depression, substance abuse issues, self-harm, learning disorders. In addition, they recognize that structure is essential for working through emotional and behavioral issues. To this end, daily schedules with allotted times for therapy, academics, and extracurricular activities are in place to maintain a sense of routine and normalcy for struggling teens.
In a boys home, residents remain under 24-hour supervision and have access to a range of therapy options with mental health professionals. When it comes to treatment, one size does not fit all, which boys’ homes take seriously. Group homes for boys assess the individual needs of every resident and tailor treatment programs accordingly. One teen may thrive exclusively in individual therapy, another only in group therapy, and a third in some hybrid of the two. Because boys’ homes maintain a small number of residents at all times, staff members can provide extensive individual attention in a structured but family-like setting. In this way, boys’ homes facilitate personal growth in a comfortable, intimate setting, often absent from larger residential treatment centers.
In a group home for boys, they are held to many expectations meant to develop self-confidence and independence. For example, all residents are assigned and expected to complete chores, such as shopping for groceries, cooking, cleaning the house, and laundry. As a result, boys learn new skills in preparation for a return to life outside of the group home while simultaneously developing a greater degree of self-sufficiency. In addition, boys are expected to learn to work together and get along with the other residents to sharpen long-term teamwork and social skills. The co-ed setting of the typical high school is often full of social pressures to impress peers, leading to risky behavior. In a boys’ home, teenage boys are removed briefly from this setting and learn to act in their own best interest. Notably, being surrounded by other boys around the same age who are struggling with similar issues can do wonders to repair a teen boy’s damaged self-esteem who likely felt alone and ashamed of his behavioral issues.
Privileges, such as time on electronics or outings, are earned, instilling purpose and responsibility in the boys. Residents can also participate in different recreation therapy programs, in which they can dedicate time to art, sports, music, and more. Some ranches for troubled youth even have equine therapy programs. Alternative schools for boys also provide the chance for teens to earn credits and get back on track toward earning a high school diploma. In short, the elimination of distractions allows boys to focus solely on self-improvement.
In the later stages of emotional and behavioral recovery in the home, familial involvement in the process is beneficial. Before a teen returns home, family therapy sessions are often recommended to ensure as smooth a transition as possible. Additionally, while the teen spends time in the group home, parents are given time to recuperate and learn new strategies to help their teen cope upon returning home.
During the weeks or months spent in a boys’ home, your son will be given a fresh start in a nurturing and supportive environment. He will be wholly removed from the environmental influences which initially sparked his problematic behavior. In this safe environment, he will be able to refocus on academic pursuits and productive activities while learning healthy coping mechanisms for anger, frustration, and other challenging emotions. By giving your child space and time to work through his issues and rebuild his self-image, you are clearing the path for future success.
“Boys homes” are often referred to by several other names, reflecting the variety of programs and approaches they use to support and rehabilitate young males facing behavioral, emotional, or learning challenges. These include “therapeutic boarding schools,” which combine academic education with therapeutic support, focusing on personal growth alongside academic achievement. “Residential treatment centers” provide a more intensive therapeutic environment, often catering to boys with more severe emotional or psychological issues. “Group homes” offer a family-style living situation with a group of peers, supervised by trained staff, where boys receive care and support in a more communal setting. “Reform schools,” historically known as places for more disciplinary approaches, have evolved to also include therapeutic elements in their programs. “Wilderness therapy programs” take a unique approach by placing boys in outdoor settings, using nature and outdoor activities as tools for emotional and behavioral growth. “Juvenile detention centers” are for legal rehabilitation, focusing on reforming boys involved in the juvenile justice system. Lastly, “ranches for troubled youth” or “therapeutic ranches” provide a rustic, outdoor environment where boys engage in ranch activities, animal care, and therapy. Each of these alternatives to traditional boys homes offers a distinct blend of therapy, education, and life skills training, tailored to address the unique needs of their residents, ranging from mild behavioral issues to more complex psychological conditions.
Placing a boy in the temporary care of a boys home, is not easy for any parent. Still, short-term placement in an alternative school for boys is more than worth the long-term benefits to the boy. Placing your son in a boys home is an act of parental love above all else.