teen showing dad her homework

By Randy Moraitis, MA, CIP, BCPC

As the father of a blended family of five kids ranging in age from 16-32 I know first hand how challenging it can be to connect with your teen. You want to be close to them, but how do you do it without attitude, rejection or rebuff?

They’re busy–you’re busy. Another day goes by and you didn’t really connect. What’s the solution? How can a parent be intentional about connecting with their teen in a meaningful way?

I suggest you give this a try the next time you and your teen are home and they are in their room working on homework (or whatever they do in there!). Take your newspaper, or iPad or whatever you were going to read in your home office or family room.

Instead of sitting there alone, disconnected from your teen, take your reading material with you and go knock on your teen’s door.

When they answer, ask if you can come in. Then come in, have a seat and start reading your iPad or whatever you brought. Just hang out. When your teen asks what you want, say “nothing, I just wanted to be around you”.

And be sincere–don’t have an ulterior motive to find out who she’s dating or some such info. Be real. Be present. Just hang out. After awhile some great conversations may come out of it. And even if they don’t–hey, at least you got to spend some time hanging out with your teen!

If your teen happens to tell you to get lost–that they don’t want you in their room. Don’t make a big deal about it–but do try again the next day, and the next. Your teen is worth the effort.

I would love to hear your teen parenting tips. You can comment below or email me at Visit my website for more info on counseling or coaching, and our nonprofit foundation at


teen drug testing

Should I Drug Test My Teen?

People often ask me whether they should drug test their teen. I believe that home drug testing of teens is a great tool, but like any tool, it must be used properly. Here are some facts to guide you in your decision making:

Easy Access–Home drug tests can be purchased online or in most pharmacies. Before purchasing, be sure to do some research online, or ask your physician or pharmacist for their recommendation. Be aware that home drug tests do not test for every drug, but they are still very useful.

Peer Pressure Victory–Most teens will inevitably be faced with peer pressure or circumstances to try drugs. If you let your teen know that they will be randomly drug tested, then you are giving them a safe way out of these pressure filled situations. This can be very powerful!

Tested Positive—Now What?–Think through how you will respond if your teen tests positive. Start with an honest heart-to-heart and try to find out what is going on in your teen’s life. Schedule an appointment with a counselor specializing in addictions. Continue testing and if there are more positive results get your teen into treatment.

Tested Negative—Now What?–A negative test deserves praise and still serves as an opportunity for honest discussion about drugs and alcohol—a subject that many are uncomfortable to discuss. Create a culture in your family where it is safe to talk about anything.

Also, keep in mind that a negative test may also mean that drugs have simply already passed through your teen’s system and are no longer detectable. If you observe suspicious behavior, follow your intuition and test again soon or consult with your physician or a counselor.

Parenting teens is hard! The wise parent will use every tool in the toolbox and drug testing is a great tool. I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts on this subject. You can email me at or visit my websites or

By Randy Moraitis, MA, BCPC, CPC

I once heard it said that raising a teenager is like trying to nail jello to a tree–very challenging. I should know, I’m on my fifth teen and I’ve got the gray hairs to prove it!

Parents of teens have so much to worry about when their teens go out–alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription drugs, texting while driving–the list is very long and very scary.

Before your teen goes out, as part of setting clear expectations and boundaries, be sure to ask these five questions:

1. What will you be doing?

2. Where will you be going?

3. Who will you be with?

4. When will you be home?

5. How can I reach you?

By asking these questions, and only allowing your teen to go out once you have the answers, you are being a very proactive and responsible parent and sending a message to your teen that you love them and are paying attention.

Next blog–“Should I drug test my teen?”

I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts on this subject. You can email me at or visit my websites or