Read more from Eva-Maria here.
It’s not news that New Zealand has one of the highest rates for teen suicide in the world. It’s a sad thought that our dear country has this kind of history that keeps repeating itself, but there are definitely some sound ways parents and relatives can make the growing up years a little easier.
Here’s my stance on it: depression is real, no doubt about it. However, at some point of our lives, we have those days when we don’t feel like getting out of bed, when we feel lonely and when we just don’t want to talk to anyone. Those feeling are normal. Like I say, if you were to quickly diagnose people generally feeling ‘sad’, should we have a tax on emotions like ‘love’ aswell?
Depression is real – I’m not saying it’s not, but we all have those days when we feel a little ‘emo’, or ‘depressed’ if you must. If this goes on for a little longer than a day, a week, month, then yes – professional help is needed. But you can actually stop this unwinding of events! Don’t let that sad stage of a teen’s life turn into ‘depression’. There are three things to remember:
Whenever you notice something, talk to them! Even if they don’t want to, keep talking to them – even the small things count “How was your day darling?”, “What do you think about….” Get them involved in conversations, family activities – anything. Just keep that communication going, because when the time comes, they will open up about what’s bothering them. More times than never, parents seem to drift off and stop talking because they don’t want to deal with another snappy answer – this is just them taking some of their issues out little by little. Keep talking, talking, talking.
Did your teen have an interesting idea? Do they need a lift from you somewhere? Do they need to talk to you? Be open to support them in their decisions. At the end of the day, if you tell them not to do something, as much as I hate to say it, psychologically that makes them want to do these things even more; to try these things to find out what all the fuss is about. Don’t let it get that far – if they hear the word ‘no’ from you often enough, that translates into ‘I don’t care about you’ to a teen sometimes, and that’s exactly what you don’t want. If you must say ‘no’ to some things – a tattoo, a party they want to go to, a business venture they might want to start up by dropping out of school, say ‘no’ as much as you want, but don’t forget the reasons behind it and tell them about this. This will automatically put them into the ‘understanding’ mindset, and just like it would be perfect for you to read their mind, give them something to work off by giving them your side of the story – what you’re thinking, and why you’re thinking it.
I cannot stress this point enough. When you don’t say a happy ‘Good Morning’, ask for their opinion, say ‘no’ to anything they want to do, that all translates into ‘I don’t care or love you’. Wrong, wrong, wrong! A great book about the ‘5 Love Languages’ talks about how different people show their love for each other. With a teenager, you don’t necessarily need to study that book, unless you have the time – small things count. My parents always remember to tell me they love me, heck when I was little, after Mum had been away in another city, just her bringing back some cheap lollies from the plane as a ‘gift’ got my brother and I excited – you can express your love through so many different ways – don’t forget that it can stretch out further than a simple ‘I love you’; it can be anything from a small gift, to a gesture of love (“Would you like some tea?”), to just sitting down when they need to talk to you the most and hearing what they have to say.
How do you communicate, support and love the teen in your life? As hard as it may be, they hold so much energy and power to balance out the world; to make something out of themselves, and to make the world a better place – if not now, then definitely in future. Cherish and love them – who would want to end their life when they’re surrounded by love and understanding? No one is my guess!