Ask These Questions Before Assuming Something Is Wrong

Parents really don't stop worrying about their children, especially when the kids finally go off to college or try to get their first full-time job. These changes in the now-adult children's lives can bring about changes in personality, but sometimes the changes can seem drastic. Your first instinct as a parent might be to assume something is very wrong, but everything could be fine. Rather than assume counseling is needed, see what's happening regarding these three questions, and then see if maybe life coaching is a better idea.

How Extensive Is the Problem?

Does your college-aged child call you less and seem overly preoccupied with school -- but everything else seems OK? Or are they totally withdrawing from everyone and everything, avoiding school or work, and lashing out physically and emotionally? If the problem seems to be all-consuming, yes, you may want to talk to your child about counseling. But if there seems to be only a couple of aspects affected by whatever is going on, that's not a sign that your child's life is about to fall apart.

Are There Physical Signs of Drug Use?

There's a song from the early 1980s called "Institutionalized," in which the singer, playing his teen self in the song, goes through three situations in which he feels misunderstood by friends and parents (chances are if your child is in college or just out, you're old enough to remember the song yourself). The second verse has him daydreaming in his room, only to be interrupted by his mother accusing him of being on drugs ("No you're not thinking, you're on drugs! Normal people don't act that way!").

Sometimes the changes in your son or daughter's behavior seem like they could be driven by drug use. That's not always the case. Look for actual physical signs -- odors, dilated pupils, reddened eyes that aren't due to allergies, and so on.

If all that's happening is that your child seems unusually contemplative or seems to not be interested in the same things he or she was before, that's not necessarily drug use. That could be introspection and re-evaluation, which can be very good things.

What's the Situation With Grades and Unexplained Physical Pain?

If your child is still in school, have his or her grades dropped drastically for unexplained reasons? Has he or she been suffering from unexplained physical pain? Stress can often manifest physically -- the pain is real but has stress as the cause rather than another physical injury. While young adults are no strangers to excessive stress, that combined with drops in grades may signal the need for counseling.

If the drop isn't that severe or there's no drop, but your child seems to be going through a tremendous amount of stress, then life coaching could be a good idea. Do not force your child to go (you can't force them legally, anyway); instead, try gently suggesting that maybe life coaching could help them find ways to better deal with the stress. They deserve a good life, and while hiccups are normal, coaching can help them narrow down what really matters to them so that they can pursue that in their life.

For more information, contact companies like World Wide Youth Mentoring Inc.