This post offers a quick, not tested, but good first step for parents worried about an unhappy teen. Start with this poster:
PARENT ADVICE about depression
How many of the Happiness Rules listed above do you follow? Probably not all. That is why forgiving self is one of the rules. Minimally, doing what has to be done despite mad, bad or sad feelings is what most of us manage to do. Not so when caught in the grips of depression.
Depression also destroys respect for self and others, the ability to laugh and play, and to forgive life, others, and ourselves.
The pushing of children to “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” or “Be All You Can Be” code words for “Be a Star,” need reality checking. The poster focuses on reality based happiness.
I suggest all parents think about discussing the Happiness Rules at a formal or informal family meetings. Start by posting the rules on the refrigerator door. Then have a dinner time discussion about which one is easiest for various family members to follow.
With a teen showing signs of depression, use the poster to start a discussion about how bad life feels at the moment. A teen who can’t discuss the rules is a teen in trouble and you need to talk to a professional about how to move forward.
parent advice WARNING
A few teens who commit suicide seem, claim to be happy, and might even be happy. These are often kids who have lots going for them and are stars. If and when they fall or fail, they don’t know how to deal. Think of some of the big name stars who while appearing to have it all, end up committing suicide.
What can you do? The happiness rules provide a shield for those facing loss and failure. That is why forgiveness of life is one of the rules. That is why these or similar rules need to be talked about just as much as safe sex or safe driving rules are discussed.
If your child is a star, applaud that, but also applaud louder starring in life by respecting others, being kind , sharing and caring. Make those the values that matter most.
More information for parents coping with a moody or depressed teen can be found in my book ‘When Good Kids Get Depressed‘, which is volume 11 of the When Good Kids Do Bad Things series. Volume 1 is free.
Parenting is hard work and contending with a child who is depressed demands more than good parenting. Hopefully, the above tips and resources will help you and your child survive this hard time.
IF YOU LIKED THIS POST
I have published fourteen books on parenting. ‘When Good Kids Do Bad Things. A Survival Guide for Parents of Teenagers‘ is available in print and as an e-book. Shorter ebooks can also be downloaded on specific topics, like lying, crime, running away, clothing wars and many other topics. Or you can learn how to run a successful family meeting or help your child with test anxiety. Meanwhile, don’t forget to take care of yourself with ‘Parents Are People Too – An Emotional Fitness Program for Parents‘ or by reading my Emotional Fitness Training blog where you will find free posters, daily exercises and more.
Also, if you think this information will help another, please share it. Sharing knowledge is a caring act.
DISCLAIMER ONE: Although I am a therapist and base my advice on my clinical knowledge and experience, it does not substitute for face-to-face professional help.
DISCLAIMER TWO: FORGIVE MY GRAMMATICAL ERRORS FOR I HAVE DYSGRAPHIA. If you need perfect posts, you will not find them here. Dysgraphia is a not well-known learning disability and means that sometimes my sentence structure is not that easy to follow or I make other errors. Still, most people understand me. All of my books are professionally edited, but not all of my blog posts are. If this troubles you, feel free to read elsewhere. If you persevere, you are practicing kindness by lifting my spirits for that means you find what I say helpful and that is one of my missions. Kindness always repays those who spread it.