My goal in this space is to demystify the mental health experience and assist parents, teens, and young people in gaining coping skills and education for a healthier, more satisfying life. I'm glad you're here!
I often find myself face to face with a teen after a crisis. These crises can be major break ups, divorce, and death. Sometimes the crises involve situations that may have been avoidable like a party gone wrong, or a social media mishap.
There is no blame in the situation, no judgment.
As a therapist, I’m often also in the role of family educator asking families questions to prevent these crises from happening in the future. Questions may include:
While not all crises can be prevented, some can by having thoughtful and frequent family conversations. I challenge you to think about your approach to the conversations; it really doesn’t have to be hard!
The timing of your conversations can be critical. Discussing safety issues with your teen before they find themselves without a ride home or in a dangerous situation is very important. How do you bring it up?
Think of the talk as a SERIES of conversations that begins when your child is young.
You teach your child how to cross the street safely, correct? You may even teach them how to get home from school, or ride a bike. Whatever the difficult discussion is about, it is helpful to talk throughout your child’s life. Talk early and often to normalize having these discussions with your children.
The location of the talks can also be helpful. Some teens do not like to talk in a parent’s bedroom, as it feels like it isn’t the teens’ territory. You might simply ask your child where they prefer to talk, or pick a family spot. Car rides can be helpful, as no eye contact is necessary. If you’re wondering if your child is listening, the answer is yes. You may not get a verbal response, but your child hears what you are saying.
Your child will let you know when the conversation is over. They may turn up the volume on the music or change the subject. Take their cue and move on.
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “keep it simple.” As best you can, keep the conversation age appropriate and answer your child’s questions. You may find it easier to talk to just one child at a time, if you have multiple children of different ages (or developmental ages).
Call Me No Matter What
My parents told me I could call them no questions asked, but I’d be punished for calling in certain circumstances. This is a great example of what not to do (sorry Mom and Dad). It really is vital to allow your child to reach out to you when they need it most and know they can safely do so. Doing so will provide your child with that call/text to help in emergency situations when they desperately need you Some families even come up with phrases or words the child will text if they need an immediate, no questions asked pick up. Remember, you have to leave your cell phone on for this system to work.
Your child is receiving information from friends, peers at school, online, and more. The more family discussions you have, the more information your children will get on what matters to you most, and how your family would best like to handle things. It may never get easier to have these “difficult” conversations, but perhaps, with some practice, talking through the tough stuff will begin to feel like the best thing for you and your children.
Here to help you navigate life’s challenges through mental health education and therapy.
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