What to Expect, What to Do
|Teenagers are especially
vulnerable to distress. In their time of discovery, they
have anxieties about their sexual identity, their grades
and, in many cases, their performance as athletes.
Unfortunately, they may come to feel that drugs, alcohol,
or even suicide can offer relief from emotional pain. You
can prepare your children for the hard knocks of life.
You can listen, let them know you care and support them
through each crisis.
How You Can Prepare
To give your teen a stable base, there are many things you can do. Make your home a friendly place. Offer praise whenever you can. Assume a positive, helpful attitude. Be ready to listen at all hours. Talk straight, with no moralizing. Ask questions, without accusation or blame. Take a stand with reason, not revenge. Be consistent, not rigid. Educate yourself, then provide information about sexual abuse, AIDS, drugs and alcohol.
What You Can Look For
Once you understand the feelings behind teen troubles, you can watch for the danger signals. Among them:
Some traits, such as increased independence and new interests, are natural for this age. You can develop a sensitivity to your childs individual traits. Then, you can keep communication open.
The Suicide Myth
Some people believe that if a person talks about suicide, he or she wont do it. This is untrue. You need to take suicide threats seriously. Trouble may be brewing if your teen talks or writes about suicide or if he or she is greatly saddened by the loss of a friend, the death of a family member or the breakup of a romance. Other warning signs are:
What To Do
If in doubt, ask your teen if he or she is going through a crisis, or is entertaining thoughts of suicide. Your care and love are critical. Often, the teen doesnt see suicide as final. In a time of stress, a desperate young person may somehow see death as a temporary escape from pain, rather than the irreversible step that it is.
Use Your Resources
Many families face teen troubles. You and your teenager can move through difficult periods more easily if you take advantage of the expert resources available. Many list 24-hour help lines in the telephone directory.