An interesting conversation ensued at a friends potluck tonight. We were watching our 8 year old boys dowse each other with water, yell joyfully, cover themselves with dirt and run into the pool. They were having a great time.
I currently know several friends struggling with their teenagers, mostly boys. These kids have been raised with mama love from the beginning. They have been read the right books, eaten organic food, and had many conversations about safe choices. None the less, they are all having similar problems. Not just your, “I want to be independent” teenager mood that I modeled quite well myself. This is aggression, depression and a variety of other issues. My heart goes out to these struggling kids and their families.
I was talking with a therapist friend tonight and she agreed with what I have heard, that there is not much help for this age range. I know someone who has been struggling with a kid for quite a while. He was kicked out of school and after school care for violence. When the parent contacted the police for help, they said they could not intervene until the child broke the law. Unwilling to let that happen, this parent made the choice to stay home with him 24/7 and go on welfare.
I would imagine that if it is a two parent household and/or the family has resources for appropriate help, counseling, etc. that things might improve. But what if the troubled kid comes from a single parent or low income family, then what? Are they just out of luck?
I know we have programs for homeless youth and foster children. I know we have empowerment programs and youth engagement experts working their hearts out. But what about these kids that aren’t “troubled” enough but still need respect and support?
I’m sure there are specialists studying, researching and engaging in this conversation. I know community organizations and youth engagement workers committed to the truth and empowerment of all kids. But this seems different. These kids seem hidden. And their families struggling silently. When is mental health and crisis going to be something we TALK about? When does it become something that neighbors and concerned friends take action about? And if it’s now, what action can we take? Maybe there could be people in our culture who mentor other families through crisis. Like a midwife to birth the transition to adulthood.
There is too much senseless violence, isolation and fear around “troubled teens”. It feels like it is someone else’s problem, but ultimately isn’t a hurting or wounded child everyone’s concern? As a parent, I keep hearing “watch out for the teen years”. There has to be a better way. I don’t know the answer but it’s time we start to have the conversation.
Children are beautiful, at all ages. Let’s see them that way, especially when it’s hard for them to see it themselves.