You've done everything you can to be a great parent, but your child is still struggling. You are not alone and you are not failing as a parent. Whether your child is struggling with depression and anxiety or is just simply a defiant mess you will find the support you need and the interventions that work here.
The Laundry Issue!
Our guest is a mother whose child has been on a different path from most. She has been attending our parenting group for many years. She gives a history of her journey with her son and their progress in rebuilding and maintaining their relationship. We talked about how she could stop doing the things that didn’t work without her child making the changes she wanted him to make. She tells the story of an incident that occurred recently. Her child was acting up and she chose to de-escalate the situation while following through on her boundaries rather than engage.
The Yelling Challenge
What if we as parents challenged ourselves to stop yelling. Well Pat has become a social media sensation doing just that and putting it out there for everyone to see. In this episode we explore some parenting dynamics that can be frustrating and often lead to yelling. If it worked we would all see that in our children. Yelling has its place in parenting, but is often an unhealthy crutch.
Today my guest is pastor Kyle Zimmerman from Orange Friends Church, who recently gave a Sunday message that I feel applies to parenting struggling teens.
Whether you believe there’s a God or follow Christianity or not, you’re going to get some good wisdom out of his insight about boundaries, parenting, and the definition of real love.
Pastor Kyle used an illustration from the story of Pinocchio in his message and related it to the ideas of God’s caring nature, the Gospel, and what healthy, mature love can look like.
First, we dive into the topic of Pinocchio’s unwise decisions in the storyline, and how Geppetto showed wisdom and patience, along with healthy boundaries, as he pursued his wayward child.
Geppetto had created the wooden boy with great care and intentionality and desired a loving family relationship.
But when Pinocchio went to school and experienced rejection and alienation, he was vulnerable to the deceptive appeal of “Pleasure Island,” where everything is supposedly free and oriented towards instant gratification. This can be viewed as an allegory to a troubled teen falling into addiction or other self-destructive behaviors, often without the necessary awareness of the dangers.
This of course puts Geppetto in a tough predicament, where he finds himself asking: What am I willing to sacrifice to try and save Pinocchio? And, where is the line between the efforts I should make to retrieve him, and losing myself?
Geppetto does pursue Pinocchio, and sells his valuable clocks to do so, but demonstrates boundaries in his decision to not enter into Pleasure Island himself, and resisting resentment against the boy.
When teens struggle, some parents sacrifice everything, some sacrifice nothing, and many seek to find the right line in between. Every case is different, and Kyle suggests that God will lead parents slightly differently in each family scenario.
When considering whether to make a sacrifice for a teen, one question parents can ask themselves is: Will it hurt any other important relationships in my life? This can include relationships with other children, spouses, God, or others.
You also don’t give something that is going to take away from your identity, or that will creep into the realm of enabling. It’s also important to make sure any sacrifices you make are not harming future security for yourself or others you’re responsible for.
We talk about letting our children go through things and experience the natural consequences of life. Instead of trying to eliminate consequences for a child, focus your efforts on guiding them through the experience. Geppetto couldn’t take away the pain that Pinocchio was experiencing in life, but he didn’t add to or exacerbate it.
We also discuss the difference between loving your child - which most people do - and loving ON your children in effecting ways that are actually going to get internalized by them as loving.
I know you’ll enjoy this engaging episode as we explore what love can look like and where it should be rooted.
New Diagnosis and Misdiagnosis
Welcome back to Hope for Parents with Struggling Teens.
Today we’re joined once again by Brittany Johns, LMFT to talk about some recent trends in the mental health world and a few of the dynamics we’ve been seeing recently in many families of struggling teens.
We address some new diagnostic terms that are growing in popularity, as well as a couple of phrases that aren’t actually real diagnoses at all.
First, we address the term “school avoidant.” Many of our listeners will draw different conclusions on how helpful this phrase is or isn’t. I talk about the potential downside of labeling common behaviors that fall within the middle of the bell curve of common teen issues as disorders or terms that sound like diagnoses.
I share a little bit about my own personal experience with ADHD, and how it’s still important to encourage teens to lean into personal responsibility as they learn how to work hard in school and develop tools for success, wherever they find themselves on the list of learning challenges and possible cognitive deficits.
Next, Brittany and I talk about the importance of walking alongside a teen when they experience failure, and how that looks very different than rescuing or protecting them from potential failures. We look at troubleshooting together with your child, helping them process failure as part of living, and reframing the adverse experience as a learning opportunity.
Then, we discuss some common traps that parents tend to fall into when their teen is struggling. These include enabling, excusing, fudging on boundaries, and failing to grieve unmet expectations in order to accept the season they find their family in.
We address video game use and addiction, and whether or not it’s accurate or helpful to call the behavior self-medicating. Brittany explains the appeal of predictability in games versus the unknown outcomes of taking real-life risks.
We talk about the modern medical landscape we find ourselves in, and how many health insurance companies’ emphases on getting a diagnosis right away can pose challenges for therapists. I also explain the possibility of incorrect diagnoses being made to move through a system lacking nuance for less common cases.
I hope today’s episode encourages you to think about new ways you can walk alongside your teen through the normal failures of life, and live free from the common traps of over-diagnoses, excuses, and unnecessary complications in the healing process of your family.
A New Discussion About Body Image
On today’s episode, I got to talk with Asha Bhattacharya, who was crowned Miss Anaheim when she was 18 and has been using her platform to spread awareness about mental health ever since.
I used to think all pageants were focused on beauty, and all pretty much the same, and I know I’m not the only one who will benefit from hearing how Miss America and other pageants actually work, and what they’re really about.
I met Asha at this year’s Walk With Hope for Suicide Prevention event. Her passion for mental health awareness grabbed my attention, and I brought her on to talk about using social media in wiser ways, body image, and what she’s learned about processing anxiety.
I loved what Asha had to say in this episode about giving ourselves permission to feel. Many of my clients benefit from learning this type of acceptance. As they build up a tolerance to their once-stuffed emotions, they can be more fully honest about where they’re at. Then I can help them navigate some options regarding what to do from there. But if we deny or stuff what we’re feeling, we can’t process and grow from it.
One example of this is the clients who come in with concerns that they have body dysmorphia. We first have to analyze whether it’s truly dysmorphia, meaning they are seeing something that isn’t there, or whether there are other issues going on around their thoughts, appearance and self-regard.
Sometimes, there are aspects of our appearance that it might be healthy to work on changing, but other times there are features that we need to accept as good and part of who we are.
Asha shares that growing up around mostly white peers led her to believe certain things about her skin color in different stages of her childhood and adolescence, and she also expresses her current thoughts and observations around the topics of diversity and media.
We chat about learning to live healthy lifestyles for better reasons than looks, but how we don’t have to completely deny any desire to look our best either.
We also spitball about a new hashtag we should probably start: #MakeTheAlgorithmWorkForYou
…by which we mean, instead of insisting that the teens in our lives refrain from engaging in social media at all, what if we instead taught them to engage with more positive content? This would teach the algorithm that they’re interested in uplifting and honest accounts, as opposed to accounts that might perpetuate unrealistic beliefs about our bodies and appearances.
Hope For Dealing With Teens And Suicide
Welcome back to the Hope for Parents with Struggling Teens podcast!
My guest today is an incredibly inspiring woman named Annette Craig. Annette founded my favorite non-profit in the world: The With Hope Foundation
Annette lost her daughter Amber to suicide extremely unexpectedly in 2005, when Amber was just 14. Now, With Hope, The Amber Craig Memorial Foundation is actively educating teens on the topics of suicide prevention and mental health awareness. They also host many educational programs, fundraiser events, and bereavement support.
Annette is the reason I started the parent's support group, and has inspired me so much over the years. She’s helped many, many people get connected to quality services and resources, and I appreciate how wise and discerning she is about how she refers teens and families. (A lot of therapists say they want to work with teens, but not all of them are willing to stay diligent about all the research they will need to stay up on if they’re going to do so effectively).
When I first met Anette, the topic of mental health was more stigmatized. We chat about how in 2023 it’s less taboo, but there’s still much work to do to educate and de-stigmatize certain topics.
We talk about what a good fit in a therapist might look like, how parents can partner with a child’s therapist, what types of resources parents of kids who struggle with suicidal ideation might need, and what therapists need to discern when they first consult with a teen.
We talk about intervention in crisis moments, and what to do if you’re not sure whether it’s real or a cry for attention.
We also talk about the topic of blame. Many families that have touch points with suicide or attempted suicide find that they deal with feelings and conversations around blame. Annette points out that when a certain type of cancer runs in the family, no one’s tempted to point the finger at a certain side of the family or the patient themselves. It’s just accepted as an illness. For whatever reason, it can be harder for families to navigate the topic of mental illness from the same blame-free standpoint.
We also talk about rallying around families who are hurting, the importance of community, and how the support group and others like it have helped families through these darker moments in life.
I know you’ll sense Annette’s burning passion for helping hurting families, and be inspired by her hopeful perspective.
If you’re experiencing thoughts of suicide, dial the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 988 right now.
To learn more about Anette’s foundation, go to: WithHopeFoundation.org
Great Show Amazing
Thank you for the show. Good information mixed with an entertaining back and forth make for an easy listen. Can't wait to hear who the next guest is
WOW Amazing!!! Really good!
Great Podcast if you want to use your potential. Great suggestions! Love listening to all the details from the episodes
I like the premise of this podcast.