Tough subject today. We, as parents are always taking care of our children. Physically, by making sure they are fed, clothed and go to sleep on time. Intellectually, by taking them to school, reading their report cards and helping with their homework. Spiritually, by teaching our beliefs and taking them to church. Emotionally, by talking to them and teaching them how to express themselves. This is where parenting can become a sticky situation, and beyond our own abilities to teach.
As my boys hit pre-teen and teenager, and for the last few years, the parenting swaps from a mostly physical endeavour to a mostly emotional one. While my boys no longer need me to help them dress or make their meals, they desperately need me to talk to them about what they’re thinking and feeling. While a child-turning-teen may seem apathetic to their parents company, inside, they are desperately seeking your interest and attention as much as ever. They no longer constantly say, look at me, watch this, but they terribly want to be recognized, acknowledged, given a vote in family situations, and justified in their growing opinions, fears, confusion, and ideals.
Your child’s mental health is your concern as a parent. It’s not something that we talk about very often, to the point that you might not know how to approach it. My older son has anxiety, which we called “being a worrier” in my family for generations. I encourage you to open your mind, and educate yourself on mental health concerns in children, so that you can know how they look in kids. If you spot signs or symptoms that your child is suffering from depression, anxiety, lack of coping skills and so on, act. Ask for help through your doctor, a counsellor, or Alberta Mental Health. I was so surprised to find out how many resources are available and at no cost.
As a parent, you’re the first line of defence for your child. You need to know what it looks like, sounds like and feels like if your child needs help with their mental health and managing their stress. There are resources available to you, and the sooner your reach for them, the sooner they can help.
Here are some resources for you to look at: