Advice for Parents
Imagine sending your child on a mission's trip to a country whose drinking water may be unsafe and ingesting it would result in a 10% chance of contracting a fatal disease. Would you give them some instructions about preventing that problem?
Did you know that studies done in the 90’s show that 20% of teenagers and 10% of college students had seriously considered suicide in the year prior to the studies? Most of them had drawn up a suicide plan. Did you know that suicide is the third most common killer of teens and second most common cause of death for college-age young people? (“Night Falls Fast,” Jamison, pg 21-22)
What are you doing to help your children face these risks and realities? We grew up attending church, went to seminars, read books, and listened to many hours of teaching and preaching, but never received any information about this problem or how to prevent it with our children. Now that we have personally experienced the indescribable horror of this problem, we want to help parents.
We are continuing to learn about mood disorders, depression, and suicide; but here is the advice we have at this point:
Educate yourself on these topics.
Before your children reach adolescence, talk to them about the fact that the brain can have illnesses just like other parts of the body. Inform them what the symptoms are of various mood disorders such as; lingering sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, etc. Encourage them to let you know if they have those symptoms, just like they would if they had pain in their stomach. Make sure they understand that there is treatment, that can help them with an illness in their mind.
Don’t dismiss problems in adolescence with moodiness, withdrawal, or rebellion as just part of being a teenager. It might be that, but it could also just be the tip of the iceberg of larger problems in their mind that need to be dealt with.
You need to give extra attention to your boys since males tend to hold in problems more than females.
Don’t wait until they are 18 and no longer under your control to try to help them.
If you are sending them to a college, make sure that in addition to checking out the dorms and academic programs, you check into the mental health programs that are available.
We are not trained professionals, so if you have any concerns or questions, see a mental health professional rather than rely on our advice. Whatever you do, don’t ignore your concerns.
Trent & Lyn Watford