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Randi Rabin: Help! What Happened to My 15-Year-Old ‘Angel’?

Dear Feelings Doctor: My son is 15 years old and has always been an angel in the family. Suddenly I don’t know him. He refuses to do anything to help around the house, and he’s constantly complaining about everything. I am concerned he may be doing drugs. What can I do to communicate better, to get inside as his parent and not the enemy? Thank you.

— Powerless in Arroyo Grande

Dear Powerless: Thank you for sharing your story. At 15 years old, your teenager is changing with each breath. He will go to bed as one sweet, loving young angel, and wake up with horns some mornings.

Welcome to puberty! It isn’t very pretty sometimes, but everyone will make it out alive!

As for what your son is doing with his friends at school, after school and on the weekends, have your finger on the pulse of his whereabouts. If he closes his bedroom door, go in through a window (metaphorically speaking). It is very important that he have rules, guidelines and boundaries at home and is encouraged to follow them. If possible, have family dinner at least three or four times a week, with your son setting the table or helping in the kitchen.

Each family member has his or her special energies to contribute that help the inner workings of your family exist. Point out the progress he is making and have those all-important talks about small things as well as drugs or anything else he is wondering about right now. This is the time his curiosity will be growing in a lot of different areas. Make sure you talk to him about your concerns and be ready to “listen” to what he shares with you.

The next time you have this talk it will be easier, and please know there should be an ongoing dialogue with your son about everything in his life right now.

Part of growing up as a teen is getting ready to push parents away in a natural progressive dance. Teens do not have the thought process just yet to separate from their parents with diplomacy. They really do need you to show them how it is done. Your patience is utterly important along with your love right now.

Remember: Just because they roll their eyes doesn’t mean they close their ears.

Dear Feelings Doctor: Please answer this “age-old” question: Can men and women really be “just friends”? Thanks very much. I just need to know!

— Craig in Santa Barbara

Dear Craig: Well, my friend, it’s a really great experience when it happens. It takes lots of work to get to that beautiful, blissful place, and worth every drop of effort one puts into it, for sure.

The bottom line is: Women go to women to share their thoughts and deep feelings. Well, guess what? So do men — they love having a woman friend they can go to in their time of crisis and share every tiny detail. Guys don’t really share that kind of stuff with other guys. There really is “friendship attraction” once both parties get past the bumpy stage of “should we sleep together to see if it’s great or just be friends?” part.

Remember, animalistic attraction is the first response that we humans notice, but society has a difficult time figuring out this whole male/female friendship thing. People seem to feel more comfortable when they know what column you go into. It makes everyone feel safer to know that you go into this box or that box. Well, guess what? Fit into a box if you like, but actually, shhh — there really is no box.

Besides, being best friends with the opposite sex can be an illuminating, fulfilling experience.

Dear Feelings Doctor: My daughter is only 14 and pregnant. My husband and I are furious and at the same time wondering how to handle this situation. She wants to have the baby but refuses to say who the father is and, furthermore, says he is out of the picture. What do we do? We love her so much, and this is the last thing we could ever imagine happening to her — to all of us.

— Parents in Santa Barbara

Dear Parents: This is a very challenging time for your family. I understand the stress and thoughts that may be filling your days right now. What you choose to do as a family in supporting your daughter is so very important.

It is something that needs to be discussed together in a gentle, caring way, along with the options that are available to her. This is definitely one of the biggest decisions of her life. Having her talk to others, talk to a counselor, talk to girls who have gone through this experience, and support, support, support your daughter as much as possible.

Whatever she chooses, having educated information will help her greatly. It is a huge decision and a lot to process for a 14-year-old girl. Know that the strength and love of your family will carry everyone through this important time. Blessings to you all.

Got a question for The Feelings Doctor? Click here to submit a question anonymously.

— Psychotherapist Randi Rabin, M.A., MFTI, answers reader questions in her weekly Noozhawk column, The Feelings Doctor, and can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Antioch University Santa Barbara and completed her master’s degree in psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute under the guidance of renowned psychologist Stephen Aizenstat, Pacifica’s chancellor and founding president. She has worked as a counselor with a number of local nonprofit organizations and schools. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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