Presentation & Discussion for Parents of Teenaged Children
“Listen to your child/children actively.”
“Put on your air masks first – model the behavior that you want your children to follow.”
Panelists and facilitators from NAMI(National Alliance on Mental Illness) stressed on the importance of keeping the dialogue open between parents and their teenaged children. Sponsored by BRIC( Basking Ridge Indian Community), the event sent a strong message to parents to identify markers of stress in their children.
The evening’s panelists made their marks on the audience with their knowledgeable insights on the mental issues affecting today’s middle and high schoolers.
What issues could be affecting our teenaged children?
Puberty, social media pressures (more than the parents know about), body image issues, and academic pressures all contribute to the stress that could morph into mental illness among teenagers .
What could you as parents do?
Remain calm and composed – The panelists who themselves are parents agreed that this is a feat in itself but harped on the positive vibes it sends to the teenagers who are undergoing stress. Parents need to modulate calm demeanor in order to alleviate anxiety in their children.
Stop with the social comparisons between your generation and the generation X – This is a very common mistake that most parents make. Like the generations, the pressures have changed, and in some cases have increased for the present generation. Don’t forget, we did not have social media when we were growing up so comparing our children’s life to ours isn’t comparing apples to apples. As parents, especially as South Asians, we all have our migration journeys but our children should not to be made to hear of the hardships we faced. It is not their fault they have what they have.
Modulate realistic goals – Don’t expect perfect A’s from every child. Set realistic expectations from your children. Do not impose your dreams on them. They have their own.
Show your vulnerabilities – Everyone fails at times and failures are stepping stones to successes. Make sure your children know how you have achieved success in life which is definitely not by trying just once.
Focus on yourself too – Take good care of yourself and respect yourself and your spouse. It warrants self-respect in your children.
The panelists also invited audience members for a role play.
The scenario – mom and dad want their teenager to go to a party with them and the teenager refuses and storms off to her room.
Mom’s reaction – losing her temper. Dad’s reaction – coaxing the teenager to go the party.
The specialists’ solution – Give the children their space and a chance to opine. If it is very important for them to attend an event – lay out the positives in a calm manner. Hear their reasons for not going. Discuss! If they can stay home, give them that chance and let them be.
The take-away for all parents from this forum was that irrespective of family situations, children do undergo stress. The key is to maintain a congenial atmosphere in the house, to have a dialogue, and to always be aware of warning signs. Most importantly, if you think something is odd, reach out for help in a timely manner.