Parents, Don't Freak Out!

Whatever you just learned about your teen… don’t freak out, don’t cry, ask all the questions racing through your mind, or become CSI-like. You can’t fix it.

Recently the Tom Karlin Foundation sat down with a group of teens to better understand their life, school environment, and challenges. Our conversation was inspiring and we surfaced some great ideas for ways the foundation might partner with teens to increase awareness of depression and suicide prevention. We also learned a lot, including some insights that might help parents.

Our group of teens said they don’t share more with their parents because they dread their reaction. Parents, your teens want to avoid the drama: tears, yelling, and general disappointment. They are worried about the consequences of sharing what’s going on, for example you might hound them with endless discussions and keep asking if they are “ok”. Teens wonder if you are strong enough to deal with your own stuff and theirs…so they try to protect you by not sharing. 

So, what can parents do?

Do your best to participate non-judgmentally in moments with your teen: observe, describe what’s happening from your perspective, but avoid assigning motives. Listen, and don’t ask too many questions or try to "fix" it. If you blow it by over-reacting, apologize. Teens that are having issues with depression or other challenges are most likely to consult a friend or an unrelated adult. You might be that person for your son or daughter’s friend so keep an eye out.

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