This is a guest post by Agnes who highlights that blaming someone for a teenager’s depression is never helpful.
It can be very tempting for the parents of a teenage child, who’s suffering from depression, to shoulder the blame for the child’s state. Teenagers with depression commonly succumb to outbursts of anger: yelling, throwing things, punching walls and even becoming violent toward others. The aggression, paired with the words the teenager might say, “I hate you,” or “This is your entire fault,” can be grating and begin to make a parent feel helpless.
In moments like those, when tension is high, and the environment feels unsafe, parents might be willing to take the blame, to do anything to stop their child’s pain. While the desire to see their child stop hurting is natural and good, parents need to know that their children’s depression is not their fault. Now, parents may play a role in their children’s depression, but that must be separated from the act of assigning blame.
The first and most important thing a parent can do for a child who is struggling with depression is to communicate clearly. A teenager might not realize that while he or she is angry and behaving physically or emotionally aggressively, he or she cannot think clearly. Parents should tell their teens, in a compassionate manner, that until he or she can speak calmly, they can’t listen to what is being said. Helping the teen to de-escalate will usher in an environment of reason.
When the teen can speak calmly, parents should seek to listen. Asking questions—not too many—is key to understanding. As the teen explains the factors that have angered, saddened or frightened him or her, the parent will begin to see a clear picture of what has contributed to the child’s state. Sometimes, and in severe cases, a parent might realize he or she needs more help. Seeking outside help is a good idea when the teen has embraced suicidal ideologies, or dwells on violent solutions to his or her problems.
A good program to speak with, if the parent needs outside help, would be the Family Compass. Help from the Family Compass with your child is not an admission of failure. Many parents freeze when they realize that they need others help. That understanding can be another vulnerable moment when a parent tries to blame him or herself for the teen’s situation. However, the parent is not to blame. Instead, a parent who bravely moves forward, seeking help when it is needed, is a teen’s best advocate.
Depression afflicts a vast number of young people today. There are many factors: family culture, peer culture, physical appearance, social performance and more. When a teen fails to achieve his or her own level of success in any of those areas he or she might quickly turn toward fear, which fuels and creates depression. Before the path of fear leads to destructive depression, a parent who is empowered to know he or she is not the problem but rather a possible factor only, and who is ready to advocate for the teen’s well-being, will help to bring healing to a difficult and trying time in the youth’s life.
Agnes Jimenez is a professional blogger and writer. She writes for many online establishments and currently partners with TheFamilyCompass.com in spreading awareness about troubled and depressed teenagers (and how to deal with them). The Family Compass aims to increase awareness on the current psychological and social status of today’s teens and how these factors affect the future of our society.
(CC image courtesy of Moodboard)