Support makes all the difference

Unencouraging parents can affect children’s mental health


Photo by Allyson Smith

Story by Staff

Dear parents,

This isn’t for all parents. This is to the parents that dismiss their children’s passions in order to encourage their own.

This is to the parents who are skeptical of their children when they mention their mental problems. This is to the parents that believe that if their child isn’t perfect 100% of the time, then their child will never be well again. This is to the parents that have been mistreating their kids for years without knowing it.

In the U.S. alone kids ages 3 to 17, approximately 4.4 million, are diagnosed with anxiety and 1.9 million are diagnosed with depression. So before guardians snap and say, “There is nothing wrong with my kids,” maybe they should take another look.

It’s easy for parents to believe that meeting children’s basic needs, like providing them with food and clothes, is enough to raise them to be functional members of society. This causes them to assume that, if their child is struggling mentally, their child’s problems are unrelated to their family. Guardians are quick to blame phones, video games, the internet or their child’s friends for their kid’s declining mental health. This results in them not improving how they speak to their children.

Some damaging and neglectful actions that parents do that can harm children mentally include: comparing children to their friends and siblings, commenting on their hobbies as “pointless” and “a waste of time” and putting off kids’ needs to do their own activities.

In 2019 there were an estimated 1.38 million suicide attempts in the U.S. alone, and suicide is still the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. today. Having parents who do not support  their kids can lead to low self-esteem and suicidal thoughts.

Children recognize that their parents are usually doing what they think is best for them. They know that their parents’ accusations and comments come from a place of love and concern. But it doesn’t always come across that way when children are preoccupied with maintaining their mental stability.

When kids believe that their parents are neglecting them, the first step on the parent’s part is to sit down and listen. Listen to them and know about the pain they endure. Let them know they are free to point out whenever they feel overwhelmed by a mother or father’s behavior. Youth is meant to be enjoyed; don’t make them spend it in fear of speaking up.

Even with parental support, it is also beneficial for kids to know they can utilize the free resources in the community and on the internet. School counselors, friends, The Trevor Project, the American Foundation for Suicide prevention. There are people who will listen and take teenagers’ suffering seriously.

“I’m the parent, and you’re the child,” is a phrase parents often use out of frustration but not out of disrespect to their progeny. This letter is to them. If parents may not be understanding their children’s concerns or guiding them through their struggles, this letter is to them.