The Difference Parents Can Make In Their Teen’s Depression

The Difference You Can Make In Your Teen's DepressionIn 2016, suicide moved up the list from third to second leading cause of death in teenagers. Think about that for a second…teenagers are killing themselves more than ever and it is terrifying as a parent to realize that we have children in this age range.

Teen depression is a serious problem. In a world that seems programmed to make them doubt themselves, just developing a healthy self image seems like an insurmountable undertaking. Add in other factors like divorce, a difficult co-parent or trauma and the list of potential triggers for serious teenage depression becomes longer and longer.

What Should I Do If I Suspect My Teen Is Depressed?

Changes in appetite, increased or decreased sleep, apathy, sudden bouts of crying, isolation, signs of self harm….these are all signals of depression in a teenager. If you have noticed any of them, or a combination of these or other symptoms, you probably feel very anxious.

But studies have shown that your are a lifeline for your teen and your support is critical in their health and success. Here are some ways you can make a difference in your teen’s depression.

  • Listen To Them Speak Honestly – One of the hardest thing to do is speak openly and honestly to someone about how you’re feeling. With a child, they have to worry about changing the way you look at them. Show your teen that they can be open and speak without being judged.
  • Don’t Punish Them For Their Feelings – Feelings are impossible to just ignore and yet we will so often push them away out of fear of the consequences. Your teen could be afraid to share their feelings because you may punish them for what they express. Make it clear you would never do that.
  • Recognize That It Isn’t Up To You To “Fix” Them – You are a parent and you probably see it as your job to fix things for your kids. But their emotions and mental health belong to your teen. Don’t make them feel pressure to lie and say they are fine so you can feel like you are fixing their issues.
  • Get Them Involved In External Activities – Isolation is a common symptom of depression and also one that can make the depression worse. Try to get your teen involved in activities they once enjoyed, even if they push back at first. Sometimes you have to force them to interact with others, for their own mental health.

Seek Professional Help

All of the above tips won’t stop the depression, they will only support your child. Professional help may be necessary, especially if other conditions exist. Don’t be afraid to turn to a therapist or doctor.

Author of this article, Tyler Jacobson, enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative work. Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn

 

Early Warning Signs Of A Potential Abuser

There are early warning signs that you are in a relationship with a potential abuser. After divorce, one may have joined an online dating site and now has a string of first and second dates. While people put their best foot forward and hide their darker side – it is still possible to catch a glimpse of who that person really is. One may feel it is love at first sight, however if something does not quite seem right, put the brakes on. Trust your gut instinct. Your subconscious is screaming at you to back away when these signs of a potential abuser appear:

  • Are they disrespectful to anyone? While no one agrees completely with another, people can agree to disagree in a respectful way. When a date treats others callously so early in a relationship, this is bound to get worse. This may include name calling or derogatory labels. If women are called obscene terms, hit the road.
  • Are they controlling? They want to plan your social life and dictate whom you may see. They may tell one how to dress or where they can go. They want their dating partner to get their permission to do various activities.
  • Potential abusers excel at using sarcasm with little jabs at others. They may mock what you say. They make “jokes” at your expense and say you are “too sensitive” if you are hurt or object. They are critical and judgemental. There do put downs which may begin in private and progress to belittling you in front of family and friends.
  • They are possessive which may seem flattering at first. One can mistake this for affection, when really it means you are their property. For example, a person may keep their arm permanently attached to you in a group setting. Instead of love, it can be marking their territory. They may call multiple times of day to check up on you.
  • They are jealous of your relationships and may attempt to isolate you from others. In some cases, the person is jealous of their date’s children. They resent the time the parent spends with their kids and competes for attention. These potential abusers want to be the centre of the universe and get upset when forced to share their date.
  • They blame you for their bad mood or blame others for any misfortunes. They cannot handle feedback that points to any mistakes they have made.
  • The biggest sign is that they have violent behaviour which may not necessarily be directed at you. They start with a small action at first, such as throwing a book across the room in rage. It progressively increases in intensity, such as hitting the couch near you, or tossing your possession at something. It is only a matter of time before you become the target of physical abuse. It is so important to get out of this relationship immediately and not listen to any excuses. Leave after the first violent act and not wait until you become the punching bag.

This true case illustrates several points mentioned above. Violet dated a medical student from a fantastic family. Ken appeared to be loving and caring, yet a few things bothered her. He blamed others for his mistakes or said they were wrong when his discrepancies came to light. He belittled Violet in front of others and her mum begged her to leave him. She did not. Right before her trip abroad, Violet asked Ken to drive her to a store to get some cosmetics. He refused –saying he did not want her to look pretty for other men. Then he gave her a prominent hickey on her neck which was very visible.

When Violet returned, Ken put a fist through a door inside her flat. Shortly after that he threw her shoe at the wall, which resulted in a hole. The violence scared her and she realized what would be happening next. Violet realized she had given Ken too many chances and promptly broke up with him. A few years later an acquaintance revealed that Ken married and got divorced the next year. She knew why.

It is easy to fall into the trap of listening to excuses and giving extra chances as Violet did. When any act of violence occurs – no matter how small – end the relationship.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine    thedivorcemagazine.co.uk

 

Tips On Finding Summer Programs For Children

Summer is here and the yearly dilemma for parents can be what to with the children. Many single parents rely on school and after care while they are at work. When school is not in session, this can be a challenge. Non-profits can offer summer programs at low cost to fill this gap. An accountant mentioned that summer programs can be eligible for a “Child independent care credit” when a working parent has an income. This means that some of the money spent on programs counts as child care for a tax break.

A rabbi whom I interviewed, suggested calling one’s local synagogue or Jewish Community Center (JCC) to see what is being offered for children. She said that there were sleep-away camps, particularly in the Northeast. A woman at the JCC, said in larger communities there are day programs. The JCC can also be a resource for what else is available where one resides. The Protestants and Catholics have Vacation Bible School which gives parents a break when they need some child care.

There are non-religious options, such as The Boys and Girls Clubs. The one I contacted charges $700 for the entire summer or $350/month. This is all day sessions which includes food and many activities. Local community colleges and recreation centers have their own programs which can be a little less than other day camps. There are programs for special interests, such as chess camp, with a low fee so that all can attend. These people do it for the love of chess (or whatever it is) and to get youngsters excited about it too.

Summer provides the chance to take advantage of the special family events around town. Go to street fairs and festivals to enjoy the lively atmosphere, music and great food. This is almost like being on vacation in Greece, Africa or other exotic locales. Many parks have concerts which is a nice opportunity to have a picnic with the kids. Some cities show movies outside with food carts nearby. Play tourist in your own city. It is amazing how many people have not been to museums, the planetarium, zoo or other attractions right on their own door step. Go to a larger metropolis nearby or the countryside for a change of scenery. There is an artist colony on the periphery of our city. My sons and I feel as if we have been on vacation after browsing through the offbeat shops and indulging on homemade ice cream plus other treats.

Get away, whether it is to the shore, lakeside cabin or a farm nearby. My mother took me to Wildwood, New Jersey every summer. Swimming in the ocean and walking along the boardwalk created lasting memories for me. When parents and other relatives live out of town, going for a visit can be an affordable adventure. There are new places for the kids to discover. My sons were thrilled to visit a farm near the city where my mother lived. The tractor and fabulous milkshakes were an extra bonus. They picked blueberries and strawberries which is not possible on their home turf. What may seem like a mundane activity to you can be a unique experience for your child.

Some single parents send their children to their parents for a chunk of the summer and use that time to work extra hours. They accumulate more time off to spend with their youngsters upon their return. Or, when their offspring is with the other parent, they put in overtime and have more days off with the little ones. My mother sent me to sleep away camp for several weeks every summer and worked during that period. I had a blast and she was off when I was home. Camps can be pricy, so perhaps make them a special treat and not the main course for their summer break.

A young teenager may be too old for summer programs and too young for employment. Parents in this case recommended a membership to the local pool or recreation center. This gets them out of the house and interacting with others. Some children’s museums and other program invite this age group to be a junior intern and entertain the young campers. My sons did the summer reading programs at our library with other activities, such as magic shows. Young teens were on hand to make this program a success. These individuals can be volunteers for various charities during their summer break. My sons volunteered with a cat rescue group and that encouraged me to become one too.

Make the most of each moment during the summer, because one day your little ones will be in their twenties just as my sons are now.

My article was originally printed in DivorceForce   https://www.divorceforce.com/   Affected by Divorce? Join DivorceForce, the online community committed to empowering those affected by divorce. Many helpful articles for those facing divorce.   @divorceforce (Twitter)