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As adults, when you begin to look around you, you also begin to notice that some of your friends and family did not end up doing as well in life. Some of us go down the wrong road, but why is that?

As someone who has witnessed friends, family, and younger kids of my friends and family go down the wrong road, you are left asking yourself, “What pushes someone in that direction?” It’s crazy, but when you think about it- there are several reasons. I am going to address some of those here. Please understand that I realize that not all kids are going to fit into this box. So, of course, there will be exceptions.

1. Losing someone close.

Losing someone close can affect a child or teen in a much more profound way because they are still gaining their footing in life. If this person is someone they are close to, like a parent, the loss will be downright traumatic.

Parenting from the Inside Out: How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive” by Daniel J. Siegel and Mary Hartzell – This book provides insights into how our own childhood experiences shape our parenting styles and offers strategies for raising compassionate and resilient children.

2. Witnessing a traumatic event.

Witnessing or enduring a severe trauma early on is very life-changing. Even the best child in the world can end up going down the wrong path shortly after trauma, especially if they don’t end up going through some type of therapy.

3. A lack of parental support.

Kids need their parents to keep tabs on them and support them down the right road. When your kids are making the right choices, and you don’t encourage or water that seed, they might feel as though they are letting you down or aren’t good enough. And then, they can end up seeking the wrong attention elsewhere with the wrong crowd.

4. Too much parental control.

Conversely, too much parenting (hovering) can end up backfiring. There is a reason they joke about preacher’s daughters. Because kids, much like adults, when over-restricted end up cause-correcting almost every time.

5. Too much parental leniency.

Being there for your child is much different than being their buddy. If you are their buddy and let them do whatever they want and don’t give them any structure at all, they are likely to end up making the wrong decisions. And while life happens, a small detour as a teen can stick with you.

Lost at School: Why Our Kids with Behavioral Challenges are Falling Through the Cracks and How We Can Help Them” by Ross W. Greene – It explores the reasons why conventional discipline strategies don’t work with some kids and offers compassionate and effective solutions to help children who act out.

6. Having a parent that went down the wrong road.

When you have one or both parents that are addicts or who have gone down a bad path, especially if they are still on that path, it can predispose you to go down that path too. Oftentimes, even unintentionally, kids will follow in their parent’s footsteps.

7. A desire to fit in, but with the wrong people.

People instinctually want to fit in. The problem is, that fitting in with the crowd is not always the right choice. Unfortunately, kids don’t always see it that way and will try to fit in with others at any cost.

8. Feeling unloved by a parent.

Having an emotionally neglectful parent or an unloving parent leaves many deep scars. One of which can end up pushing the child to seek that love from somewhere else. And unfortunately, that may be down a dark road.

Boundaries with Kids: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Children” by Henry Cloud and John Townsend – This book guides how to set healthy boundaries with children to help them develop responsibility and grow into the healthy adults they are meant to be.