We're All Just Human - The Myth of Perfect Parenting
Having a child is the adventure of a lifetime! To help get us get ready for the adventure we seek out the best information on parenting. We read the best parenting books. We talk with family and friends who have been down that road before us. We scour the internet on how to best parent that little human being we are bringing into the world.
When we are in that delivery room and we first take that little one in our arms, that magical zing to our hearts hits us with surprising force. That instant feeling of deep love for that child is something unique and powerful. Trying to describe it to others in words is inadequate. Unless you've been there, it's difficult to comprehend. From that moment on, our world revolves around that child. We hope that all the books, the talks, and Google has prepared us for the experience!
For many parents, the childhood years are a mix of exhaustion, challenges, and learning. Yet, along the way we enjoy each stage our child grows through and tap into that joy that parenting a child can bring. We find that though we don't have all the answers, we end up doing a pretty good job of parenting. For many, the child appears happy and well adjusted and hitting all the developmental milestones on target.
We Got This Parenting Thing Down, Baby! (Uh, hold on a second . . . . )
By the time we feel we have this parenting thing down while our children are growing, all of the sudden . . . the teen years hit! This is the moment all parents brace themselves for. The trepidation throughout the childhood years we feel in anticipation for the teen years is always in the back of our minds and now, here it is.
We start to have questions such as:
Will I be enough to parent a teen?
Will I be able to help my teen through the challenges they face in this day in time?
How can I help protect my teen while at the same time allow them the freedoms to be a teen?
In addition to those questions we throw into mix a couple of other variable. How or teens will fair during their teen years is also a mix of two very important factors:
Nature refers to the genetics that make up our teens. Our teens are a mix of two parents DNA. Those parents are a mix of their parents DNA, and so forth.
We inherit many, many behavioral, mental, and emotional strengths from our parents. These genes produce bright and intelligent kids. These genes also result in a propensity towards kindness and compassion. Those with leadership traits likely have a parent who also had similar leadership traits.
Along with those strengths that we inherit through our genes, we also inherit other challenges. Teen depression, teen anxiety, ADHD/ADD, teen panic attacks, drug or alcohol abuse, often can be influenced by our parents or grand parents DNA.
Nurture refers to the environment the child grows up in during their childhood and teen years. If a child is raised by a parent or parents who attend to their needs, this provides the child with:
A secure attachment to their parent(s)
The secure attachment helps their brains develop believing the world is a safe place
If the world is a safe place, then the child learns that exploring the world is safe
They will always have a secure base to retreat to if the world becomes overwhelming and,
Independence, confidence, self-worth, and self-esteem are off shoots of a secure attachment
Should a child be raised in an environment where their needs are not attended to or are inconsistently attended to, the child:
Has a brain that develops believing the world is not a safe place
An insecure attachment is formed
The child may become clingy and not want to explore their world -- it doesn't feel safe or,
The child will venture out exploring the world, playing alone, and pushes away the parents attempts to care for the child
Nature: A Driver of Parental Guilt
Nature is where parents who have teens who may be struggling with teen anxiety, teen panic attacks, teen depression or other struggles feel guilt. Parents tend to look back and try to identify the times and places they "should have" or "could have" intervened to prevent their child from experiencing these struggles. We do not control nature. Genetics are simply what they are. Nature is something we feel we have control over and parents can beat ourselves up for what we "should've" or "could've done".
Up to the teen years, parents have been able to take care of all the bumps, bruises, and wrongs the child experiences. We were able to comfort our children when they hurt. Encourage them when they were down. Celebrate with them when they succeeded. As parents enter the teen years, it's hard to let go of feeling like we should still be able to do these things for our teens.
The fact is, if your child will struggle with teen depression, teen anxiety, teen panic attacks, it will usually manifest during the teen years. These struggles are far more complicated than an occasional skinned knee, little Suzy not sharing her doll, or the heart ache over losing a family pet.
Step-by-Step "How To" Guide for Parenting Teens With Depression, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Drug/Alcohol Abuse, or Other Quite Complicated Emotional and/or Behavioral Struggles
Okay, I really wasn't given a Step-By-Step Guide for Parenting Teens with Depression, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Drug/Alcohol Abuse, or Other Quite Complicated Emotional and/or Behavioral Struggles (if I did, I'd shorten the name). Even if I had that guide, it would be unique to my two boys and wouldn't do your teen's much good. Each teen comes to therapy with their own unique struggles, personality traits and strengths, and challenges.
Man, I'm telling ya though, it would have been sweet to have that guide. We've done a pretty good job parenting but have had our own, unique struggles that we've had to do our best through. Along the way, we have relied on specialists who may not provide us the "Step-by-Step" manual, but have been able to provide us what we needed in that moment to help us succeed.
I'm not telling you anything new. We all likely know by this time the nature/nurture debate. We know that when our teens experience depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and other struggles we are simply not equipped to help our teens overcome these struggles. It doesn't mean we don't try, in fact, we do everything in our power to help them conquer these struggles. Yet, these challenges tend to exhaust our parenting tool kit.
Common Road Blocks Parents Can Face Deciding to Take Their Teen to see a Teen Therapist or Family Counselor?
The stigma around family counseling and counseling for teens has lessened over the past few decades. Yet, the thought of taking our teen to teen counseling or family therapy still causes some parents to think twice. There are two main reasons we see for this:
1. Parental Guilt
When the decision is being made by a parent whether to take their teen to a counselor for teen depression, teen anxiety counseling, or family counseling, it at that moment becomes real. Up to this point there was hope that our ability to parent could be enough.
Recognizing that we have given it our all and we have still come up short hurts. But does it mean we have failed as parents? Does this mean that when they were children we did or didn't do enough of something which created this struggle for the teen?
More often than not when we meet with parents who bring their teen in for family counseling or teen therapy, we find loving, caring, parents who have simply parented the absolute best they could. We don't view this as a failure on the parents part or on the teen's part. Teen depression, teen anxiety, teen panic attacks, ADHD/ADD, are all very complex struggles that none of us come fully equipped to tackle.
Were any of us offered the, "How To Help Prevent Your Child From Developing Teen Depression" class? How about, "Top Ways Parents Can Guarantee Their Teen Will Not Experience Teen Anxiety" certificate? After birth and while at the hospital, my doctor failed to give me the inoculation to give my child to prevent teen panic attacks (something I still need to address with him).
A Reason Why We May Take on the Guilt and is it Legit?
We cannot take on the teen's depression, anxiety, ADHD/ADD, substance abuse struggles. As parents, we would if we could if it meant they didn't need to have these struggles. The only other option that makes us feel that we have some sense of control is taking on the guilt. Guilt for something that we don't have the tools to fix. For something that despite our best loving, caring, true intent efforts, genetics won out.
Parents, if your friend had a teen who was struggling, what would you tell them? Would you help them understand that they are good parents who have done everything out of love for their teen? Maybe explain that they shouldn't be so hard on themselves? If we would give this grace to our friends, turn that same grace around and apply it to you.
2. Concern for Teen's Sense of Self
This reason is closely aligned with parental guilt but there is a subtle difference. Going to family therapy or teen counseling there is concern that your teen may feel that as parents, you are saying, thinking, or feeling that something is "wrong" with them. Often, teens already feel this way about themselves when they experience teen depression, teen anxiety, teen panic attacks, ADHD/ADD or other struggles. Parents understand this and don't want to further reinforce this belief the teen may hold about themselves.
What are the alternatives if you have tried, and tried, and tried without the results you're looking for?
Teen therapists and family counselors who specialize in family therapy and teen counseling are prepared to address the belief that they are 'broken' or 'something is wrong' with them. There is nothing wrong with a teen who sees a counselor for teen depression just like there is nothing wrong with a teen who sees a doctor for acne, diabetes, etc.
Both teen depression and teen acne or diabetes are largely have strong genetic factors. Though the stigma has lessened over the last few decades around seeing a teen counselor or a family therapist, it can still impact our motivation to help our teens get the support they need.
We're Only Human
The bottom line is that there is no such thing as a perfect parent. We all do the best we can with the tools, skill, and knowledge at our disposal. While doing the best we can it is done with the purest intent and with a great deal of love. Have we made mistakes along the way? Yup! Have we done or said things we wish we could take back. Check! Have we looked back wishing we could have done some things differently! that's a big AFFIRMATIVE!
We are only human. It is not a matter of fault. It's not about the mistakes that were made. It's not the things that we wish we didn't do or say or the things we wish we would have done or said. Hind sight is 20/20 and it's not fair to judge based on what we know now that we didn't know then.
Give yourself the same grace that you would so freely give your friends who may be parenting challenging teens. Who may be doing the best they can with a teen who experiences teen depression. With a teen who may be isolating, refusing school, or other activities due to panic attacks.
Providing Counseling for Teens & Family Therapy in Katy, Tx & The Houston Area
Katy Teen & Family Counseling, PLLC
Don't stop doing the best you can and eventually it will be good enough. This stuff is hard, difficult, and complex. Part of doing the best you can is providing for your teen the best resources available to help. There are those of us who chose early on in our therapist careers to specialize in teen therapy and family counseling. Having teen counseling and family therapy experts in the Katy and Houston area makes it convenient for you to receive that support.
We understand the struggles that parents, teens, and families experience. Teen depression, teen anxiety, teen panic attacks, ADHD/ADD, substance use, school refusal, self-esteem/worth struggles, and more. We have helped teens and families through these life challenges. You don't need to continue to have these struggles.
At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, PLLC, you have specialists with expertise in providing counseling for teens in addition to providing family therapy right here in Katy. Counseling can help remove the barriers and road blocks that block your teen from finding happiness and utilizing their full potential. Reach out and contact one of our caring therapists to begin your journey today.
To start your counseling journey, you can follow three simple steps:
Meet with one of our teen therapy and family counseling experts
Start today in helping your teen and family restore hope, happiness, & connected family relationships
Other Teen Counseling & Family Therapy Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling, PLLC
At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we provide other teen therapy and family counseling services. Below are some of those counseling services in addition to other therapeutic approaches in treating a variety or struggles :
Teen Therapy for Self-harm
Teen Therapy for Self-esteem and Self-worth
Teen Substance Use Therapy
Teen Anger Management Treatment
How to Begin Teen Therapy or Family Counseling
To begin teen therapy or family counseling, simply contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling through our website or by calling 346-202-4662. Our Owner and Lead Clinician answers each phone call to help match you with the right therapist for you teen and family.
About the Author
Jason Drake is a Licensed Clinical Worker. He is a Specialist in Teen Therapy & Family Counseling. He has provided therapy to teens and families since 2003. Through his expertise, he helps teens who struggle with depression, anxiety, trauma, ADHD/ADD, and PTSD. He works with talented teen athletes who have experience mental blocks. Gifted students have unique challenges that Jason understands well. Jason uses CBT, EMDR, Neurofeedback, FFT, and Motivational Interviewing. We only work with teens and families which allows us to focus on what teens and families of today need. Resolving the struggles of today can assure a more successful tomorrow. Proudly serving Katy, Tx and Houston.