Your teen wants to hang out with her friend. They have been best buds for years. But your teen has been going through some very difficult problems. So difficult, that it has caused concern by other parents.
Before you know it, your teen’s social life has dwindled and parents are giving excuses why their teen can’t socialize with your teen. The more parents you talk to, the more their stories sound the same.
“Sorry, my teen is involved in a new commitment.”
“Sorry but maybe another time.”
“Would like for them to get together but they will be too busy for an extended period of time.”
Then the stares begin. Or maybe you got a phone call by a relative or school official because they were contacted by another parent over the concern of what they’ve seen or heard.
I know what this is like. When my youngest was self-harming and writing words such as; death, blood, symbols, die, etc… I had plenty of looks coming my way. And then there was the time she drew stitches all over her body to make herself look like a Goth doll before going out.
Unfortunately, as you know, the pulling away of other parents and their teens from your family only adds more hurt and pain. My daughter was suffering from PTSD, anxiety, identity issues, along with major abandonment and rejection. The actions of the other families only escalated her issues, not helped.
Do I blame the other parents for protecting their teens from a teen in crisis? That can be debatable. It depends upon the severity of the issues and the past history. Is it a known fact or hearsay of an unsafe relationship or environment. Each teen must be treated differently case by case with parents involved.
What I do know is that you need to carefully have an open dialogue with other parents so that they understand some of the circumstances of your teen before moving forward. Only then can you remove the stigma, fear, and give assurance that their teen is safe around your teen.
It is also good (if the parents allow it), to share some of the pain and hurt to your teen’s friend in question so that if they have a concern about your teen, they know who to go to with the information. The whole idea is to maintain communication with everyone’s cooperation and willingness to be supportive. You also do not want the other teen involved to feel a burden or to be overwhelmed thinking that they have to solve their friend’s problems or be responsible for them.
Another aspect, in which it should be discussed, is to let other parents know the initiatives you have taken to get your teen the help they need. This shows parents that you are making every effort to find therapy and healing for your teen. This does not mean that you need to share all the details of your teen’s life or what has been shared in counsel.
Your goal is to relieve the concerns of the other parents. By educating others of the many different issues that teens struggle with, you are removing the stigma and shame that comes with it.
Education is the key. Many parents don’t understand the struggles of teens today. They may have teens but still can’t comprehend the gravity of a teen in crisis. So extend to them grace. One day it could happen to them. Don’t take other parent’s negative reactions personally. It is coming from fear.
Remember, God is on your side. In His eyes, we all have a form of brokenness within us. Yet, He graciously sent His son to die for us on the cross to heal those broken areas of our lives. Think on the possible of what God can do…..AND…
Press on. Move forward. Love one another.
In due time, other parents will come around. If not, then let it go. Care more about your teen and their healing.
Photo permission by David Castillo Dominici of FreeDigitalPhotos