You’ve noticed some changes in your teenage son or daughter’s behavior. They’ve started snapping at you when you ask them a simple question or they respond with a single-word answer. They’ve started spending a great deal of time alone in their room with the door closed and are always on their phone talking, texting, Snapchatting, and messaging with their friends. And they just don’t seem as happy as they used to. You’ve asked them if everything is okay but they always respond with an exasperated sigh that they’re “fine” but you don’t believe them.
After my 2012 blog about parenting a child with mental illness, “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother,” went viral, I received numerous suggestions about ways to help my child. A surprising number of these comments focused on my son’s diet. “I guess I shouldn’t have let you eat Red Vines or drink root beer,” I joked to Eric, who has always had a fondness for those sugar-laden treats.
Sometimes, getting a teenager to do something that’s good for them may seem next to impossible, even when it’s common, typical things like eating well and getting enough sleep. Trying to get a teen to understand the importance of mental wellness and to take an active role in taking care of themselves can be even more challenging. But with rates of youth depression increasing, and NAMI reporting that at least half of all mental health conditions arise by the time a person turns 14, it is important that parents provide their teens with the guidance and support needed to make mental health a priority.
The military move. Inevitable and exciting? Yes. Stressful? Not necessarily. With planning and communication, a military move can be something children – and parents – look forward to and not dread.
Spring Break is my family’s favorite time to travel. Because we live in chilly Idaho and our grandmas both live in sunny southern California, we usually schedule a trip that includes some combination of theme parks, beaches, and family visits. For most families, juggling such an ambitious schedule is a challenge, but in my family, we have always had to plan for an extra complication: my second son’s mental illness.
It’s a familiar scene. A mother attempts to comfort her young daughter as tears stream down the girl’s face. All of the daughter’s friends received a valentine from someone and she is the only one without. A day that was supposed to be about celebrating love has turned into a popularity contest.