As the police car pulled out of the elementary school parking lot, my 11-year-old son handcuffed and sobbing inside, I turned to the principal. Tears coursing down my own cheeks, I asked, “How did this happen? What can we do to help Eric?”
Ask any Gen-Xer what summertime was like for them as a child, and you’ll hear things like, “Playing outside until the street lamps came on.” And, “Hopping on my bike and riding to the other side of the neighborhood.” Or even, “Hanging out at the community pool while my parents worked.” Compare those answers to the kind that you’d get from kids today, “I’m going to a 3-week overnight camp.” Or, “My parents are scheduling different play dates for me.”
As parents of tweens and teens, we must have so many challenging conversations with our children. We talk to them about the dangers of smoking, alcohol and drugs. We speak to them about their maturing bodies and responsible dating. We talk about limiting their Internet exposure and their screen time. And that’s just a short list. Even with the importance of all of these conversations, there’s one topic that we collectively miss the mark with – the mental health of our children. Amid all of these well-intentioned talks and concerns about other topics, 1 in 5 of our children are experiencing a mental illness. And when the possible outcome of an undiagnosed mental illness can literally be the difference between life and death, it’s not a topic we should or can ignore. The Strong Minds and Happy Hearts program helps bring awareness and the needed attention to this critical issue.
Topics: Parent's Perspective