This post suggests if you are dealing with a depressed teen, in addition to professional help, you need to create an added care team to keep you strong.
Connecting to others who have walked the path you are walking keeps you from getting lost in a forest full of dead ends, holes, and cliffs.
PARENTING TIPS ABOUT CREATING AN ADDED CARE TEAM
You already have the start of such a team in your family, friends, various professionals, and even your teen’s circle of connections. Step one is to decide which ones you trust. Step two is to let those know you consider them part of your teen’s added care team. Just saying “Thank you” for being there, I think of you as part of my care team.” is enough.
To complete your team you need to name at least one complaint partner and to find a Parent Advocate. A complaint partner is someone you can call just to spout off. The best complaint partners never tell you what to do; give a bit of sympathy, but no pity; remind you of your strengths; and keep everything you say confidential. Be sure to ask the person to be your compliant partner and offer to be theirs or to recipricate in some other way.
If you don’t feel comfortable asking a friend support groups offer not general support, but an opportunity to meet potential complaint partners. As a last resort consider a therapist, but also realize your complaining has to be reserved for your therapy hour and a good therapist will only tolerate so much complaining without holding you accountable for moving toward change.
In addition to a complaint partner, every parent with a teen in some sort of trouble needs a Parent Advocates. Finding one is becoming easier had least in the United States. The National Federation of Families partnered with the USA government to guarantee parents had a say in the treatment plans various professionals made for child. The NFF’s motto is “Nothing about us without us.” Most of their advocates are connected to Mental Health Agencies, but other child caring systems have added Parent Advocacy to their services also.
I was fortunate enough to work with a great many parent advocates during my professional career. One Star Parent Advocate had been a beautician for most of her life and turned Parent Advocate in her sixties. She was the first parent advocate I hired when my program received a grant that included funds for a parent advocate. It was a new experience for both of us, and she educated me as much as I educated her. She had raised two sons who each struggled with major mental illnesses; one eventually committed suicide. Her heart possessed all the qualities of a healer.
The best advocates are like good friends who can hear your story without judging you and who will stand up for you rights when needed. Most have these the listening skills naturally, the best get some more training; an advocate has to know about the system he or she is working in; and has to know the lingo, goals, and mission of that system.
Advocates working in the mental health system need to have a working understanding of mental illness and how it is treated. Solid communication, goal setting and negotiating skills are also needed. The final ingredient is a passion to help but also to be open to learning and supervision so one can be the best possible source of help.
As with all efforts to help another person, the quality of advocates varies – some are the best thing that happened to a parent, others add to burdens. Good programs can have individual advocates that harm, and bad programs can have individual advocates who do more for the family than the professional. How to tell the good from the bad is not so easy, but you will know one when you meet one.
Finally, if you do not live in an area that has added Parent Advocates to their efforts to help, all is not lost, but finding one will be harder. Again, the place to start might be in a support group. The need to adovcate for each other could be raised as a group topic. Hopefully, the more experienced parents, would be willing to advocate for the less experienced.
More information about creating an Added Care Team can be found in my book: How to Hold a Successful Family Meeting. Holding family meetings gives every family member the skills needed to handle all other meetings.
Parenting is hard work and contending with a depressed child demands more than good parenting. You need all the allies you can get. An Added Care Team that includes a parent advocate and a complaint partner eases the path you and your child walk.
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.
IF YOU LIKE 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.