Have you ever had the experience of listening to a co-worker or friend that is having an overwhelming time with their teen or adult child? There is a helpless feeling and a desire to want to fix it for them. Sometimes we have a word of encouragement and sometimes we find those words leave our mouths sounding cliche. There are times when we wish we could just hand them something to ease their burden.
Let's face it, life with teens can be hard and not what we envisioned when they were small. It’s a tough culture to be a teen in, with high expectations for ‘success’ and no boundaries on life experiences they may not be mature enough to handle.
Statistics are showing the effects on our kids with escalating suicide rates, opiate addiction and binge drinking numbers. When a child in a family suffers, the entire family unit does as well. Every family has hard times, but when those times are overwhelming they can impact us deeply. How do you use those tough times as relationship builders, not defeaters?
Sometimes, what happens in our child's life isn't the direct result of decisions that they've made, it's from a situation that surrounds them. For us, that experience came when our daughter Emily was a Freshman in high school. April of that year one of the seniors at the school completed suicide. It was confusing, tragic, and something that we never expected our child would have to live through in our quaint beach community. Six weeks later there was another boy, that Fall another…
By the time Emily was a senior and graduated our community had lost 6 boys to suicide. We were faced with was a young lady who was completely devastated by what was happening within her peer group, though none of the losses were close friends. Each loss carved a deeper hole in her and made high school a painful experience. After the 7th loss in the community, we began You Can NOT Be Replaced.
After four years of running our organization, attending prevention meetings and speaking, what seems to be consistent regardless of what the struggle is, is that parents suffer as well. It's hard to know what to do, what to say, and even harder when you have a child trying to navigate life with an addiction or mental health diagnosis.
Often after a parenting talk is finished we will have some parents approach us hesitantly with questions. They are looking for a listening ear, and someone to help them get through the week between the counseling appointments. So often the advice we give is about healing the adult's pain and regrouping. The new normal many families face are not so different from training for a marathon.
There is a lot of work to be done as a whole, but parents need space to acknowledge the pain, the frustrations and surprises of life as it now stands. There is a need to examine priorities, motivation, and expectations. There's also a need to forgive and heal. Those are the parents we talk to, those are the parents who wait to talk to us or call us on the phone.
For kids to have a strong safety net, we need adults to be parenting from a place of strength. That's hard to do when they defeated emotionally. I have been committed to helping them find their footing again. I wanted to have a resource with the experience our family lived through and our journey to finding our strength again, that parents could use as they navigate this new life in front of them.
That's why I wrote Crushed. I know parenting is hard. I know there are pains our children have to live through that deeply impact us, but I also know that healing those pains brings relief, and brings back peace to the family. Even more important, that healed pain becomes wisdom for others. It must be shared, that's what being a part of a community means. We need to hold each other up when times are tough. Won't you join me in doing so?
Would you like to be a part of something Awesome? Would you like to help parents who are struggling?