The Toxic Friendship: Frenemies

As parents, we spend a lot of time encouraging our teens to make new friends and cultivate the friendships they have. However, are we examining the types of friendships they have? How about negative relationships that are known as toxic friendships? One such toxic relationship that can exist particularly among teen girls is the so-called frenemy.

A frenemy is a person who was perhaps once a friend, but now the friendship has taken a negative turn and is now what we refer to as toxic. Rather than being a friend to your teen, the person is now just plain mean. As the SMC Education Blog explains, this type of relationship can lead to your teen not feeling good about themselves because of the way the frenemy is treating them. This type of friendship is characterized by hurtful behavior like put-downs, manipulation, giving the silent treatment, gossip, and placing conditions on the “friendship.”

As a parent, you can help your teen avoid these types of relationships and help them understand what positive relationships look like. According to Raising Children, begin by explaining that a positive relationship is one where the friend treats them with respect, looks out for them, is inclusive, and is caring towards them. Once your teen understands how they should be treated, this should help them better form their social group.

You can also help direct your teen to other teens you would like to see them spend time with. You can encourage your teen to try different activities to help foster more positive relationships. It also helps to encourage your teen to have friends from different social arenas. Some examples of this are friends in your neighborhood, from church, sports, school, and other social groups.

You can also help by encouraging your teen to invite friends to your home or other family activities so that you can observe the type of friendships they have and ensure the friendships are all positive in nature.

Additionally, talk to your teen about friendships by asking questions and keeping an ongoing dialogue so they feel open to discuss any issues that may come up.

If there are issues that come up and your teen is not able to avoid a frenemy, you can help. Encourage them to end the negative relationship by being open and saying that the friendship must end because they do not like how they are being treated.

If there is any backlash against your teen like bullying, talk to your teen and if necessary, get the school involved to help figure out a solution.

As a parent, continue to help your teen foster the positive relationships, but realize that there may be a few bumps in the road and let them know that you will work on them together. Be sure to keep an open dialogue going with your teen so that they can discuss any negative issues that potentially come up.

If you find that your teen is having difficulty navigating a difficult relationship, you can also seek the guidance of your teen’s school to help with the situation.

Doorways LLC. is a faith-based counseling organization in Phoenix, Arizona, that provides comprehensive outpatient treatment focused exclusively on 13-25-year olds and their families specializing in treatment for eating disorders, mood disorders, anxiety/OCD, substance abuse, depression, ADD/ADHD, self-harm, suicide prevention, and family counseling.

Parenting a Teen with Mental Health Issues

Mental health issues occur in 1 in 5 teens, ages 13-18 according to NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. As a parent of a teen with mental health issues, you might find some challenges along the way. You are not alone though and we have some helpful advice to get you through these trying times.

Pay Close Attention to Your Teen

Observe your teen’s behavior, emotions, and moods as to not delay getting treatment if a mental health issue does present itself. Be keenly aware that symptoms will not constantly present themselves. Additionally, your teen could also attempt to hide symptoms.

What Do You Do If You Do See Something

Schedule an appointment with a mental health professional as soon as possible or make a visit to your pediatrician or primary care doctor. Be prepared to provide your doctor with the following information:

  • Medical records and any past mental health evaluations.
  • What types of medications your teen takes if any.
  • Any other information that you think your doctor or mental health professional would find helpful.
  • Describe what you have been witnessing as symptoms and give a detailed account of when those symptoms have occurred and/or changed.

Don’t hesitate to ask questions or get a second opinion if you are not given a diagnosis or referral. Especially if your instincts are telling you otherwise. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

What to Do If Your Teen Does Get a Diagnosis

While you will be working with a mental health professional, it is still important for you to learn all that you can about your teen’s diagnosis. Your mental health professional should be able to provide with helpful information to learn from. You can also refer to the Resources section on our website.

Inform Your Teen’s School

Teens suffering from mental health issues may struggle in school. You want to ensure that your teen is getting the support and guidance that he needs. Remember that teens with mental health issues are protected by the law requiring that they get the accommodations that they need.

Help Your Teen

You need to adjust your expectations to respect your teen’s condition. Be sure to be respectful and sensitive to your teen’s feelings and keep your own feelings in check. You don’t want to worsen the way that your teen is feeling. While it is difficult to think about it, your teen is not going to be the same as they were before their illness. You need to emotionally prepare yourself for this.

Keep Your Family Together

You don’t have to let your teen’s diagnosis be all consuming while still be concerned for them. We suggest that you continue to take care of yourself and seek the additional support that you need so that you can properly be there to support your teen.

It is also important that you don’t neglect the rest of your family. Keeping your family happy and stable will help keep the stress down for everyone and in turn, will help your teen.

Lastly, call on your village. Don’t hesitate to ask your family whether it be a spouse or other children for help. We all have different strengths and perspectives which can help your teen.

We know that this is going to be a challenging time for your teen, you, and your entire family. We hope that this advice helps. If you have not already sought the help of mental health professional, Doorways offers various treatment options and are here for you and your teen.





Bonding Activities for Parents and Teens

There is no denying the natural bond that exists between parents and their children. However, even the strongest relationships may be tested in the adolescent years. You need to remind yourself that part of growing up for your teen is exercising their own independence.  We do have some ideas on how you can continue to have a strong relationship with your teen and encourage ongoing bonding. And, if you don’t already know, start by learning what things interest your teen.

Music- This is a great starting point. Find out who their favorite artists are and listen to some of their songs. Remember to have an open mind! Maybe the music is reminiscent of a musical group or artist that you listened to growing up and you could turn your teen on to some new music.

Take a Lesson or Class Together– Find something that interests both of you. Maybe it’s cooking, dance, golf, photography, or learning a musical instrument. Go out and learn something new together. This is a great way for each of you to grow as individuals while bonding over learning a new skill.

Plan Something– Consider taking a day excursion around town, an overnight road trip, or a family vacation. Planning the experience together will allow you to not only bond, but also decide activities that interest everyone. It will be fun to have the excitement building up to the experience and of course the additional bonding on your chosen outing.

Play a Sport– Whether it’s joining a team together or just heading to the park to shoot hoops, play a match of tennis, or Frisbee. A sport is a great way to bond, but also get out and have fun doing something active.

Projects Around the House– It seems like there is always something that needs to be done around the house. Recruit your teen to help. Not only will you be spending time together, but this is also a great way to teach your teen life skills.

Have Your Teen Teach You– Maybe your teen plays the guitar, is good at video games, navigating the web, or drawing. Ask your teen to teach you something new. Not only will you be bonding with your teen, but you will help build their self-confidence while being the “expert” at something.

Do Volunteer Work– Determine a cause or service project that is important to both of you and commit to volunteering together. Make time to do this monthly or weekly, if your schedule permits. Not only will it feel good to help others, you will also get in some quality time together.

Read the Same Book– Find a book that you might both enjoy. As a parent consider a young adult novel. There are so many great ones out there and that genre is more likely to appeal to your teen. Once you have found a novel, create your own book club and decide to read a certain number of chapters each week and then report back to one another. This is a great opportunity to talk about different issues, learn different lessons, and of course, bond!

Whatever activity you choose to engage in with your teen, be happy in knowing that you are doing your best to continue strengthening the relationship and bond with your teen. If for some reason, you are struggling to bond with your teen, the team at Doorways is here to help counsel you and your teen and help your relationship to get back on track.

What Your Teenager Needs Most- A Steady Parent

In a book by Lisa Damour, Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood, she describes that what teenagers need most is a wall. In other words, no matter what is going on with your teen or in your own life, as a parent, it is important that you are this impenetrable, unwavering, steady wall and they don’t have to navigate through tough issues on their own. What does that mean exactly?

You know how things are. Your teen is busy with classes at school, sports, and other extracurricular activities, not to mention their social obligations and you kind of feel like they don’t need you. Maybe they have their own support system with their peers and are too busy for mom and dad. However, it is important that you set your feelings aside and remain that “wall” to ensure your teen knows that you are there when they need you. As cited by Huffington Post, here’s what you need to do as a parent to ensure that you are playing this role for your teen and they know they can turn to you in times of need.

  1. Make sure you have your own support system. Maybe you turn to your spouse, your church or your own parents. Whatever your own “wall” is, make sure you are using that support so that you are able to offer the best support to your own teen.
  2. Know that your teen is going to distance themselves from you at times. Part of the teen years is your teen discovering their own independence. Don’t let these times cause you to waver. You still need to remain being the “wall” for when they are ready to turn to you.
  3. Find other walls for your teen. The pressure can be difficult to be the only wall of support for your teen. Enlist the help of other trusted adults like teachers, coaches, counselors, and faith leaders. These people can all offer your teen additional support and provide further perspective on the various life issues that are sure to come up for your teen.
  4. Be aware of your shortcomings. Watch out for your own tiredness and your own unhappiness or anger. It is hard to be your best for someone else when you are not at your best for yourself. Be aware of these times so that you don’t cause the wall to crack.

Remember that no matter what is going on in your life and that of your teen, it is important that your teen knows that you are always there to turn to for support and guidance for no matter what life throws at them.

If you find that you and your teen need additional support, the team at Doorways is here to help.


10 Quotes to Inspire You During National Random Acts of Kindness Week

The definition of kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Being a truly kind person is an important quality to have. As a parent, you should help instill this quality in your teen. This week has been dedicated as National Random Acts of Kindness Week. Celebrating is a great way to combat all the negativity, bullying, and provide inclusion. Take a look at our previous post, 10 Ways to Celebrate National Random Acts of Kindness Week With Your Teen to find ways to encourage your teen to practice random acts of kindness this week and always.

For this year’s celebration, we want to provide you with 10 quotes to inspire you during National Random Acts of Kindness Week.

  1. “Let there be kindness in your face, in your eyes, in your smile, in the warmth of your greeting … Don’t only give your care, but give your heart as well.” – Mother Teresa


  1. “Praise be to the LORD, for he showed me the wonders of his love when I was in a city under siege.” Psalm 31:21


  1. “When you go into your day planning to do an intentional act of kindness, you begin focusing on others, which is a key to significance.”-John C. Maxwell


  1. “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”-Aesop


  1. “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart”-Proverbs 3:3


  1. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.”-Galatians 5:22


  1. “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”-Mother Teresa


  1. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving on another, as God in Christ forgave you.”-Ephesians 4:32


  1. “May the LORD now show you kindness and faithfulness, and I too will show you the same favor because you have done this.”-Samuel 2:6


  1. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”-Colossians 3:12

We hope that you and your teen are inspired to practice your own random acts of kindness this week and make someone feel included and special.


10 Valentine Gift and Project Ideas

It doesn’t matter if you have a date for Valentine’s this year or not. If you are looking for something fun to do for that special someone or your bestie, we have you covered this Valentine’s Day with these 10 fun gift and project ideas from around the web.

  1. We can’t have enough sunglasses here in Arizona, so why not gift all your besties with a pair of sunglasses and these creative gift tags from diy network.
  2. Here’s another great idea from diy network for your best friend or boyfriend or girlfriend. Don’t forget to download your free gift tag!
  3. Go to your local party supply store and purchase a giant heart balloon add a special note to the strings.
  4. Get together with some friends and set up a Valentine themed photo booth with Valentine themed accessories and décor. Turn your photos into Valentines for that special someone or each other.
  5. Make this fun Valentine inspired treat from the blog, My Crazy Good Life.
  6. Why not make sure everyone you know has kissable lips with this fun Valentine from the blog Mom Dot.
  7. Make some wall art like this. You could either use different lip sticks and kiss the paper yourself or find lip shaped stamp at your local craft store.
  8. Here’s a great project from DIY Joy . This would make a great gift and gather a group of friends and all work on together.
  9. Emoji’s are all the rage. Try your hand at making these fun pillows from DIY Craft Ideas and Gardening.
  10. We love these DIY conversation heart rings from Studio DIY. Make them for all your besties!

These are just a few of the many ideas around the web. We hope you feel inspired to go out and find or make awesome Valentine’s for your boyfriend, girlfriend, or besties! Happy Valentine’s Day from the team at Doorways!

What a Healthy Teen Dating Relationship Looks Like

It may come as a surprise to some, but teen dating violence has become all too common during the teenage and young adult years. As stated by the Centers for Disease Control, in the time leading up to their survey, 1 in 10 teenagers had been hit or otherwise intentionally hurt at least once by their dating partner.  Even more shocking is that 1 in 10 teenagers had been kissed, touched or forced into sexual intercourse that they did not want to engage in by their partner.  With February being National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, we want to show teens what a healthy dating relationship looks like. For more information on how to protect your teen from teen dating violence, check out our post Teen Dating Violence: How to Protect and Support Your Teenager Through Awareness.

One of the key elements of a healthy relationship is communication. Talking through things can help teens in a relationship be on the same page. Here some tips to share with your teen for having a healthy relationship, from Love is Respect:

  • Support Each Other. Encourage each other and don’t be afraid to ask your partner when you need support. A key component of a healthy relationship is building each other up as opposed to putting each other down.
  • Say What’s on Your Mind. Remember that your partner is not a mind reader. If something is on your mind, bring it up to your partner and have a conversation about what is going on.
  • Come to a Compromise. There are going to be conflicts in any relationship. It’s okay not to agree on everything. When in conflict, you need to find a way to come to a compromise that is fair for each other.
  • Have Respect. Each partner’s feelings have value. It is important to consider not just your own feelings, but also your partner’s feelings. Having mutual respect is a component to any healthy relationship.
  • Have Respect for Privacy. Having one’s own space is crucial to a healthy relationship. It’s okay to not do everything together and to tell each other every little thing.
  • Have Clear Boundaries. By doing this, you can determine what makes each other comfortable or not and help guide the direction of the relationship. It is important to note, that by having clear boundaries, one partner should not feel restricted. Each person should be able to still do the things they enjoy, spend time with friends, or have their needs respected.

To further understand what a healthy relationship looks like, it is important to point out what a healthy relationship doesn’t look like:

  • One partner should not be controlling over the other partner.
  • A partner should not be jealous, humiliate, be possessive, yell, insult, or be verbally, emotionally, or physically abusive to the other.

We hope that these tips will help you show your teen how to create or further build a healthy relationship. However, if you are concerned that your teen is in an unhealthy relationship, help them end the relationship.  Additionally, we have teen counselors that specialize in helping teens that suffer from dating violence that can help.

Fun Teen Date Night Ideas for the Winter Months

So how many times have you been out on a date for pizza and a movie? Maybe now is the time to change it up.

Check out these fresh ideas and go on new adventure your next date night!

  1. Go Indoor Rock Climbing– check out AZ on the Rocks and not only have fun but get in some exercise. This can be good for a first date since you will be quite active, avoiding any awkward silence.
  2. Go to an Amusement ParkCastles-n-Coasters has a variety of activities from bumper cars to miniature golf to a roller coaster offering plenty of time for talking and hand holding. Be sure to check out their web page for various specials.
  3. Go to a Coffee Shop/Book Store– grabbing a cup of coffee gives you a chance to chat and perusing the bookstore gives you an opportunity to learn more about each other and find common interests.
  4. Go Ice SkatingAZ Ice Arcadia offers indoor skating and a great opportunity to hold hands!
  5. Go Check Out Holiday Lights– turn on some Christmas music and check out light’s on family or friend’s homes or here’s a great map from AZ Central.
  6. Go Holiday Shopping– wrap up your holiday shopping for each other or other friends or family.
  7. Go PaintballingWestworld Paintball Adventures offers a chance to compete together and really get the heart racing.
  8. Do Some Holiday Baking– maybe one of you knows how to bake and the other doesn’t. Put on some music and create some of your favorite sweets.
  9. Take a Stroll– the Desert Botanical Garden offers beautiful scenery for a nice stroll and time to talk.
  10. Get Creative– try your hand at pottery painting. As You Wish Pottery has a variety of things that you paint while expressing your creative or maybe not so creative side.
  11. Attend a Local Sporting Event– Phoenix has a variety of sports teams to check out or maybe take in your own schools sporting event.
  12. Go for a Picnic- we are so lucky in Phoenix to have such great weather. Why not pack up a picnic lunch and head to your local park.
  13. Go to the Musical Instrument Museumthis is a great place for music lovers to check out a variety of instruments and music memorabilia.
  14. Go for a Hike- check out the great views from South Mountain.
  15. Go to an Art Museum- if you are interested in art, the Phoenix Art Museum is a great place to share your love of art.

We hope that we have given you plenty of ideas to change up your date night. Go out there and try something different and most importantly, have FUN!!!


Impact of Domestic Violence on Teens

The month of October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This is an issue that is widespread and knows no boundaries based on race, social status, gender, or age. The effects of domestic violence can have a lifelong impact for those individuals involved.

Doorways Arizona Blog: The Impact of Domestic Violence on Teens

What is Domestic Violence?

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse.” This is not only dangerous for the individual that is experiencing this, but also for the children and teens that witness domestic violence.

How Many Children and Adolescents Are Exposed?

According to Parent Insider, each year 3.3 million to 10 million children and adolescents are exposed to domestic violence. Furthermore, these same children and teens are likely to become victims of abuse and even if they have not witnessed the abuse, it can still have a major impact on them.

Impacts on Adolescents Exposed to Domestic Violence

Adolescents are likely to feel at fault and blame themselves for the violence. They may also feel very guilty about not being able to prevent the domestic violence from occurring. As stated by The Whole Child, they may also exhibit these reactions:

  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Flashbacks of the instances of the domestic violence
  • Emotional Numbing
  • Self-destructive behavior like abusing substances, eating disorders, or self-mutilation
  • Complaints of physical sickness, but no medical basis
  • Sleep problems like having difficulty sleeping or nightmares
  • Withdrawal and isolation
  • Antisocial behavior
  • Problems with friends and others
  • Problems at school like missing school work or missing school altogether

How to Help Adolescents Exposed to Domestic Violence

If you suspect that an adolescent you know may be impacted by domestic violence, here is how you can help as recommended by The National Child Traumatic Stress Network:

  • Safety for the family is the first thing to address.
  • For adolescents, assist in planning for safety.
  • Help develop strategies for staying safe which also helps the adolescent feel some sense of control.
  • Have the adolescent and victim evaluated by a trained health professional to set up proper therapy.
  • Additionally, case management through the legal system might be necessary.

The more awareness we bring to domestic violence, we can help cut down on the instances of it and the impact on children and adolescents. However, if you know an adolescent that is impacted by domestic violence, it is good idea to seek out a health professional that specializes in this area so they can get the necessary help they need.

“My Teen Has No Friends”

Friendships are an important part of the teen years. They help teens develop into adulthood by learning invaluable emotional and social skills. According to the Raising Children Network, having a group of good friends can help build confidence, security and provide a support system for teens. Do you find that your teen has no friends? The damage that can be done by being unpopular at school can have lifelong consequences for one’s self-esteem. As a parent, there are ways that you can help your teen develop and maintain friendships.

Doorways Arizona Blog: "My Teen Has No Friends"

Talk to Your Teen

According to Healthy Children, the first thing to do is simply talk to your teen. Find out if the time they are spending alone is making them unhappy. Explain that others likely feel the same way. Also, provide an example of yourself being uneasy in a social situation as an adult or when you were a teen to show that you understand. Find out what is making it difficult for them to make friends. There are several reasons including low self-esteem, lack of social skills, or maybe they just don’t have the right opportunity to make friends.

However, if your teen doesn’t open up because they may be embarrassed, don’t give up. There are several ways that you can help. You can talk to others in your teens life like teachers or coaches for their observations of your teen’s behavior. You could do some role-play scenarios with your teen to show what actions are socially acceptable. Help your teen learn to talk to new people. Help build their self-esteem with positive encouragement.

Help Your Teen with Friendship Building Skills

Additionally, Raising Children Network suggests you can help your teen with their friendship skills by having a good relationship with them by being supportive, actively listening, and being connected. Also, be a good role model so they can see what positive friendship looks like.

Other ways to help your teen are to plan activities for them and a new friend that are pressure free, as opposed to just “hanging out.” That type of situation can be stressful. Examples of some pressure-free activities might be:

  • spectator sports
  • watching a movie
  • visiting a museum

That way your teen doesn’t feel the need to engage in constant conversation. Also, plan for the activity to be shorter rather than longer so your teen can build up to spending more time with new friends.

Encourage Your Teen to Participate in Activities They Are Good at and Enjoy

Help your teen think about what interests them and what they are good at. Encourage them to participate in an extracurricular activity, volunteer work or part-time job. This way they can meet people with common interests and provide a spring board for conversation. This is a great way for them to practice social skills.

If your teen is reluctant to try an extracurricular activity, maybe they just need a little push by you to help get them involved. Find out what interests them. It doesn’t have to be just sports. STEM classes have become really popular. Local libraries are even offering classes in coding.  Maybe they have an interest in dance or drama? Science or building? There are a variety of activities out there not just available at school, but in the community. Check with your local parks and recreation office, local library, local museums, and even local colleges and universities to find out their offerings. You are sure to find an activity that interests your teen.

If your teen is active and interested in fitness and sports, but maybe not competitively, check with local parks and recreation, local gyms, or the local YMCA for offerings.

Additionally, check with local churches for youth groups. A popular one is Young Life. Also, encourage your teen to explore clubs at school. Maybe they are interested in computers, chess, photography, helping with school events, or social issues. There are so many different options to help your teen explore and meet new people.

Still Having Trouble Getting Your Teen to Make New Friends?

Maybe there are some deeper rooted reasons behind it. Have you discussed with your teen what is making them apprehensive? Reasons why might be:

  • bullying
  • social anxiety
  • insecurity
  • unrealistic expectations
  • antisocial behavior

Remember that making new friends can be challenging, so don’t make it a constant topic of conversation with your teen. Continue to be encouraging. If your teen is isolating themselves, this is not healthy, it can lead to a negative self-esteem, feelings of loneliness and depression, and a fear of people. If you find that your teen is still struggling socially or is refusing to make friends, consider seeking the help of a professional who specializes in helping teens with social skills.