Stapleton Pediatrics Blog

Being a parent is hard! Being a parent TODAY is REALLY hard!

    Being a parent is hard!  Really hard!  I was having dinner with my wife, 12 year-old daughter and 8 year-old son the other evening, and it struck me about how unprepared I am to navigate the difficulties of raising children in an age of fear, anxiety and social pressure.  It’s around them, and us, every moment of every day.  Whether it’s a random text from a friend, the amount of “likes” your last Facebook post received, maintaining all of your streak son Snapchat or a person posting an unflattering picture of you on Instagram, we are raising our kids in a world that is very different from the one we grew up in.  I know every generation has said this, however this time it truly is different.  Our children’s exposure to world events and images of horror we would want to protect them from are in their backpacks or pockets.  Being refreshed every moment.  And if it’s not in their pocket, it’s in their friend’s.  It is different because there is often little time to reflect and consider responses or reactions to events that distress us.  Every reaction is instantaneous.  It’s, in fact, expected to be.
    I don’t have a good answer to all of this.  I just want you to know that is important to realize that we can’t have all the answers.  It’s impossible!  Childhood ADHD was recognized in the 1930’s, pediatric depression not until the 1970’s but youth anxiety wasn’t truly identified as an isolated issue until the turn of the century.  What?! Anxiety, in itself, is a normal emotion but we need to help our kids learn to manage it.  It’s not something that needs to be “cured”.  But the longer we, as parents, try to pretend it is “just a phase” or “phobias they just need to outgrow” the more harm that may be done.  Anxiety can begin as early as 4 years-old, severe separation anxiety by 6 and generalized anxiety by 10.  The earlier treatment begins the better and the younger the child is the less coping mechanisms have developed to have to work through.  And we as parents often make it worse.  As our kids struggle it is normal for us to want to “protect” them but this simply “maintains” the anxiety.  They need to struggle to develop the appropriate coping mechanisms for their distress.  It’s easy to say, hard to do.  For me too.
    Lastly, you likely have heard of the TV series “13 Reasons Why”.  It is a series revolving around a teenage girl’s suicide and the recent events leading up to her suicide by her releasing video tapes of her describing the 13 reasons why she committed suicide.  You should know that if your kids are in middle school or high school they are watching this.  They can watch it on Netflix, You Tube or any shared links with friends.  Ask your kids if they have heard of the show, if they have seen the show, what they think about it, if they have watched it, what questions it brings up, what fears it awakens, what they might be afraid to talk about.  It is really hard stuff.  It’s not easy.  Parenting never is.  But if you need help navigating this difficult space with your children please reach out to us!  We have many connections with pediatric psychiatrists and therapists that know how to handle any and every situation regarding youth anxiety and depression.  You aren’t supposed to be able to handle everything on you own.  It takes a village to raise a child and teenager and we will be here to help.
The full article, with guidance and advice for parents and safe messaging suggestions for students, can be found here
Brandon Davison-Tracy, MD
Posted: 5/4/2017 2:52:08 PM by Stapleton Peds | with 0 comments

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