Raising my four girls has been the hardest, yet most rewarding job. Although I do not view it as a job, but my biggest priority. Somehow (and without a guidebook) parents must take these tiny human beings and mold them into productive members of society. Gulp, that’s a big responsibility to swallow. We also need to monitor their physical and emotional wellness. Then some parents must add in additional factors, like mental health struggles. So, how can we parent our teen through mental health struggles?
An Open and Honest Relationship
First, having an open and honest relationship with your children is important. If you see something is not right, try and talk with them about it. I find one-on-one time with each child is important and this would be an excellent time to address your concerns. You can start with, “how have things been” or “what’s going on with you lately?” If the teen responds with, “good” or “not much,” give them a little nudge. You can say things such as “I’ve noticed that you’ve been (fill in the blank) lately, what’s going on?” Sometimes teens just need to know you are noticing them.
Ask How You Can Best Support Them
Second, triage their symptoms and ask them how you can best support them. Regular check-ins help them see that you are there to support them. Although it is a parent’s second nature to give advice, sometimes teens just need a sounding board to voice their concerns. Teens are in the adolescent stage of development where they are learning their identity and exploring their independence. As many know, they often do not want to be told what to do and may think they have all the answers. As stated previously, my husband and I are raising four daughters, ranging from the ages of 10 to 17. Yes, oh my! We have found when they are talking to us, we need to ask them – are they looking for advice or just wanting us to listen. Nine times out of 10 they are just wanting us to listen.
Seek Help and Support for Them
Third, seek help for them. There are lots of areas for support, including school teachers, guidance counselors, church leaders, youth support groups, and therapists. That old saying, “it takes a village” is not too far off when raising teens. Sometimes just incorporating another positive relationship in their life can make all the difference. That also takes humility. As a parent, we must let go of the notion that we have all the answers. We must also give ourselves grace and not blame ourselves for not being able to control the situation or to make everything better.
A Little Extra Love and Attention
Lastly, as teens are working through their mental health struggles, provide extra support and attention. This should not look like “helicopter parenting.” Instead, as stated previously, provide regular check-ins. This could be a check in before they go to school, after school, or before bed. Ensure they know they are loved and supported.
Dawn is here to support you and your teen, contact us today.