Good Parenting requires Asking the Right questions
If it's on thing I've learned for sure in my twenty-two years of parenting is the value of asking the right questions. I'm a firm believer that in order to fully understand the cause of something we must ask as many questions as possible. Being afraid of the answer is not going to get rid of the problem much less solve it.
I love my Netflix subscription, it's not a plug but hey if someone out there is reading this Hello! Over the weekend on a suggestion from a friend I decided to give this new series called 13 Reason's Why a try. I would have finished the whole first season had it not been for my friend wanting to see it as well so we could discuss it. So I stopped at episode 5 and I can't say enough how I believe this is a great conversation starter on Mental Health for everyone.
This series is based on a book about a high school girl who commits suicide and leaves behind thirteen tapes addressed to each person she felt played a role in her death. It's a series that has caused some commotion with those that feel it is glamorizing Suicide and may bring about copycat actions. There may be some truth in that thought but ignoring the issue entirely is also not a good idea. So here lays the all important question that as a parent we must ask..."What should I do?" Well, the best answer from my perspective is asking questions, watch the show together and keep an opened mind and here is why:
- suicide in teens presents a huge threat to our children
- stress and lack of communication adds to our children's struggles
- ignorance is not bliss
- our children's lives are at stack
- it is our responsibility to do so
Asking our kids are you ok is not a good enough question. It requires very little conversation and very little effort. We must find ways to engage with our kids and encourage them to share their day and the events in their lives. While doing this we must also have enough sense to be tactful and respectful of their privacy and space.
Mental health is a very serious matter most parents only focus on good grades and avoiding drugs, alcohol, and pregnancies. Though these are serious topics and can have serious long-term effects, our children's lives involve more than that. Today with Social Media any little thing becomes a big thing. We must practice patience and never be dismissive of a matter that may be bothering our child. For example:
- popularity has been and will always be important, start these conversations early so that your child with time is building good self-confidence
- appearance matters, communicate the importance of respecting others for who they are not what they have which connects to my next point
- finances, the earlier you discuss money and remove the "more is better" frame of thought the more likely you are to raise a well-rounded individual that doesn't place value solely on material things.
These are just a few things but the list is endless. This is why asking the right questions and building a strong communication foundation is priceless. So just what is a right question? Well a right question is any question that requires an exchange of information without being short so for instance:
- how did the discussion (insert class subject here) go today? Did a lot of the kids agree with the teacher? Did you learn something new during the class share?
- you look exhausted was (insert sport here) extra trying today? did your coach push you guys extra hard?
- so was everyone you expected to be at (insert kids name here) blah blah party there? I know you were looking forward to blah blah blah, how did that go?
Your questions should focus on giving you a sense of your child's emotional state. Whether they feel positive about their life or feel like they are a failure. Whether they compare themselves to others or are content in their space. Are they leaders or followers? Do they get along well with others or always blame someone for their shortcomings. There are just so many things we can discuss with our children that allow us to get to know them as they grow and remain a part of their lives we just have to be present. We must choose to participate not stand on the sidelines.
Most importantly, we must start very young. If you recall your teenage years, you thought you knew it all and looking back now you should be able to admit you didn't. That is why guidance is required and as parent's it is always an ongoing occurrence.
Good Parenting requires Asking the Right questions to our children but never neglecting to ask ourselves the right questions as well. This requires that we know our kids so that if and when changes occur we are aware and can assist where needed.
- eat habits
- sleeping habits
- change in appearance
All these things can help in determining if our children are in distress. They can provide the red flags of possible anxiety issues or worse, Suicidal thoughts. Now, before we jump to any unnecessary conclusions, learn your child. I for one know my child is extremely talkative so when she comes home and barely says five words I know something is bothering her. What I have always done is greet her with some kisses then allow her some time to settle in. After a while I will engage in conversation, most times she is happy to share her ups and downs on a rare occasion she asks for some quiet time which is fine with me. I never let more than a day go pass before I touch the subject again. This pattern has helped me stay connected with my daughter. Establish patterns with yours.
What question or questions have you asked that you were surprised with the answers? Do you feel that mental health is under rated or over rated? Do you think that teenagers overreact to daily life and have no real problems? Share your thoughts? Let me know your experience.
Always stress-free xo,