Parents register their kids for sports, swimming, gymnastics. If they aren’t athletic they may register them for music or art. We rush though our days from activity to activity, too busy to really stop or observe how it is actually affecting us.
Have you asked your kids lately if they enjoy these activities? Do you as a parent enjoy the activities? How much time do you spend as a family? Is there space for your child to express their emotions in an honest way without being judged or attacked?
Children shut down. They stop sharing. Negative behaviours show up. As teens they may stop listening, participating, and communicating. A wall is built and once it is there, it is hard to break through. Often parents are left wondering what went wrong. Why is my child depressed? Angry? Defiant? I did everything I could, they don’t appreciate anything. There are starving children in Africa, don’t they know how lucky they are…. No, they don’t.
After being (or feeling) ignored for most of their young life, they no longer feel their life holds value. They stop caring. They are into survival mode. The teenage years are pandemonium. If a solid groundwork for communication has not already been built, it will be very challenging to form a trusting bond now.
No matter how old your child is, always leave the door open for communication. Value your child’s feelings, whether you agree with their perspective or not. Respect is a two way street. All you can do is leave the door open, always. It is up to them if and when they choose to walk through it.
I have been working on some programs for youth to help them break through these life challenging times. They often feel like they are alone, and are unaware of how many other youth are struggling too. Having a variety of support helps: family, friends and community resources can all help create stability in a shaky world.