Part II: From the Parent’s Perspective
In Part I, we met Emma, the brave high-school girl that traveled down the bumpy road towards self-acceptance. Through all of the anxiety, depression, and frustration of trying to understand “who she really is”, Emma found a way to finally accept the things she struggled with in life. Go ahead and get a refresher, or just read Part I for the first time here.
As a parent, seeing your child struggle can be heart wrenching. Some parents want to swoop in to help ease the discomfort (both yours and your child’s), while others may think these are “necessary learning experiences”. Many parents though are not even aware of how they respond to these types of conflicts (btw if you are curious to learn more about your conflict style, find out more through this assessment YouTime Coaching Conflict Mode Assessment)
As a parent one of the most impactful things you can do is be present for your child. Not passive, avoidant, accommodating, but present. Whether your 50 years old or 15, we all have the same needs (we just may meet them differently).
A parent’s own fear, insecurity, anger, and even sadness can prevent them from being fully present for their kids when they may need it the most. The symptoms of struggle for a young person may not be blatantly obvious, which makes being present, aware, and appropriately involved that much more important.
In our interview, Emma’s mother (Kate) shares a little bit about her experience during the time that her daughter was trying to “figure it all out”.
YouTime: When did you realize that your child had challenges that affected her everyday life?
Kate: When she was around nine we noticed challenges with school work. When she hit middle school the social challenges began to appear more than ever and the insecurities controlled her.
YouTime: What was the evaluation and assessment process like for you and your child?
Kate: When she was in the third grade her school contacted us regarding her inability to pay attention. She had no idea what that meant and thought nothing of it, she was a typical happy child and as for myself, I instantly went into denial because my daughter was “perfect”, it was the teacher right?! It was NOT my child with the issue. I was very defensive and protective… Eventually, I agreed to have her tested for ADHD and with research and family support I realized that even with ADHD she is still “perfect”. The real challenge began in middle school when the depression and the anxiety took control of her. It was and still is very trying at times and has had a major effect on our family and relationship with parents of her peers.
YouTime: What were some of the biggest frustrations for you as a parent?
Kate: My biggest frustration had to be adjusting in how I helped her with school work or approach personal situations when talking to her. The mom in me wants to yell “just finish the work, sit still, why can’t you do this, who cares what people think….”. But I know I can’t approach her like that if I want her to remain open and talk to me. She shuts down when I appear frustrated and withdraws herself. I have learned to not react before I think and to try to understand that she thinks and how she learns differently than I do.
YouTime: Did you have any strategies for maintaining a balanced mind during this time period?
Kate: Prayer. I do not know another honest way to answer that question. I know there are those who would answer differently but for me that is the only strategy I have had.
YouTime: What do you attribute most for the positivity in your relationship with your daughter now?
Kate: I do not make her feel like she is anything less than perfect to me and that her ADHD, reading disorder, depression and anxiety are all things that make her even more perfect. I have done my best to help her see these traits as gifts in one way or another. I fail daily, I am not a perfect parent but making notes with reminders on them all around the house for her, simply reminding her at lunch with a text telling her to remember certain things and not making her feel like I am annoyed by her inability to stay on task or hold friendships at school.
YouTime Coaching Take Home:
Take this page straight out of Kate’s book, “I fail daily, I am not a perfect parent…”
Parenting an adolescent is quite a challenging task, let alone having to continue managing the things going on in your own life. This is a beautiful example of how appropriate parental support, involvement, and mindfulness can have a major positive impact on a young person’s life.
If you or anyone you know could use some support in being more present for your kids send us over some of your thoughts and questions.