Parenting teens can be challenging, but when you add in the ups and downs of their emotions and hormones, it can be downright confusing. Several years ago, I found myself in the midst of this difficult and scary season.
My oldest daughter was struggling in school and with her peers, and she was battling depression that I was unaware of. I had missed some of the signs leading up to her revelation that she was drowning and needed help. I grew up in an era where you pulled up your bootstraps and just did what had to be done. I have since learned the hard way that that doesn’t work for everyone (and a couple of years later, I would discover that it wasn’t working for me, either).
Depression is far from uncommon. Focus on the Family suggests you be on the lookout for the following WARNING SIGNS:
- Agitation or restlessness
- Changes in appetite
- Sleeping too much or difficulty in sleeping
- Loss of interest in activities
- Isolating behavior
- Acting out or defiance
- Changes in school performance
- Feeling sad, worthless, hopeless, or helpless
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30.
Some depression and low periods are normal, especially when hard things happen and losses occur in our lives. These are usually short periods of time and have an experience attached to them. Longer bouts of depression should be taken seriously and treated professionally. In the periodical YouthWorker, Suanne Camfield writes that you should ask yourself if your child is responding in a manner that is appropriate to his or her circumstances. If not, it is time to seek wise counsel. Only about 30% of youth seek treatment for their depression, which can cause shame to take root and perpetuate the problem even more. Depression is treatable in so many ways, so ignoring the problem is never a good option.
If you have reason to suspect your teen is depressed, think about the following as ways you can HELP YOUR TEEN:
- Create an environment at home that allows your teens to speak openly about how they are feeling. Don’t judge their feelings, but instead let them know you are listening. They may be pushing you away with their anger and bad attitudes, but they need to know that you are there and won’t leave them in this alone.
- Remind them of the many ways that you appreciate them and the way God has designed them.
- Seek counsel for them when needed.
- Last, but not least, pray for your children. God has uniquely created your children and loves them with a deep, abiding love that will not fail.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit Psalm 34:18.
Special thanks to Michelle Felt for contributing to Parentingpathway.org this week. Michelle is the Ministry Leader of Childcare at Stonebriar Community Church and is responsible for the Kingdom Kids (Childcare) Ministry for children birth through fifth grade. She enjoys getting to know the families of Stonebriar and watching the children grow through music and teaching. She began attending Stonebriar in 1999 with her husband, Jerry, and their two daughters.
If you would like more resources on depression, and specifically walking through situational or clinical depression as a Christian, we invite you to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be honored to send you additional information on how to help your teen or yourself. Please remember that you are not alone in this or any struggle. We serve a sovereign God who knows, cares for, and loves you! Also, find daily encouragement and articles on our private Facebook page by clicking HERE.