“A teenager is a part-time adult and a part-time child, and He will decide which part-time”.
It was a routine day in the morning. Everyone in the family was busy with their daily chores, rushing to the office and many small things before leaving home. Manisha was a professional and her husband too. Due to Covid, their two teenagers; Ashima and Ashish, were at home attending their online classes. A small and beautiful family. Manisha felt blessed as all was just perfect, and nothing appeared challenging. A well-settled job, kids, understanding spouse. Everything was flawless for her. After the weekend going back to the office was slightly tough, the clock stuck at 9:00 am and just ten more minutes to leave, Manisha hurried. She had to be in the office by 10. Almost all was done just last-minute instructions to grownups. She and her husband left together for office. All was in place.
A busy day, the start of the week. Many things were lined up in the office, very hectic. Since morning there was no time, else, she has a routine of calling home once before lunch. Around 1’o clock she received a frantic call from her neighbors that changed everything in her life forever. She fell and the thud…. sound alerted the people around. They rushed to help, wondering what had happened. In no time all were dumbstruck just like her, Ashish had committed SUICIDE. Scary news that was unbelievably true.
Ashish was a disciplined, affectionate, and focused child. Though he was introverted but close to family. They all bonded beautifully. Then how come it happened, what went missing in conversations, what was going in his life that he took this extreme step; many unanswered questions; WHAT AND WHERE DID THINGS WENT WRONG?? He left his parents with quizzing questions that will always remain unanswered. The children that take this extreme step cannot foresee the repercussions of their actions. Life comes to a standstill for all their loved ones. Where, as a parent, they slipped to notice the turmoil in the child’s mind and heart.
According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the USA. Taking one’s life is the hardest decision and is taken only when one feels hopeless and helpless. Adolescence is the time when a child undergoes many hormonal changes, and a noticeable difference is observed physically, emotionally, and mentally. They start moving out from their cocooned existence and spread wings, a stormy time for both parents and teenagers. A teenager’s mind at this point is evolving at a fast pace and is soaking many things around. There are many influences that are touching upon his impressionable mind. A start of a phase of Individuation. Shaping ideas, opinions, and redefining the parameters of social acceptance, friends, and fad of cool, becomes the center of their life. A big shift in thoughts and people (family) takes place. Mood swings, peer pressure, curiosity to explore, and many more questions in their mind keeps popping that may appear weird to adults. They start finding their own ways to manage things in life, developing their coping mechanisms. As a parent, many things that appear insignificant to us could be a big challenge for younger ones. Their stressors usually root from their academics, friendships, and could be psychological or environmental issues. For example, a small argument with a friend could be a big deal for them but too small a thing to even worry about for an adult. Peer pressure, change in hormones, sexual identity, opinions, relationships, etc. are add-ons.
Before the disaster happens, the cues do appear, which should not be ignored like there could be behavioral changes such as sadness, withdrawal, loss of interest in daily routine activities and things that they use to enjoy earlier, talking about being worthless and on death and dying, angry, irritated, etc., or academic changes (grades going down), changes in sleep and eating pattern, etc. Apart from these any other noticeable changes or deviations from the normal routine or behavior should not be ignored and needs immediate attention.
It may be a silent call for help.
Suicide is the last recourse; one can think only when they realize that no one around them can understand their state of mind or give an ear to their pain. The decision to take one’s life can surely be averted. A tough time for parents as well as kids. It is a transition phase where parents need to move in the background and change their roles to good observers and listeners. Few things as a parent we should practice with our young ones, like while talking to children, we most of the time, tend to exert our authority or label their feelings (e.g., silly); or maybe not give an empathetic ear to them. It is the time they need open and unbiased communication from their caretakers or parents. Someone who can hold in their wavy emotions and anchor them back with love and confidence. Amiss in this support can severely affect their self-esteem and could mess up their feelings. Both parents and children may feel insecure at this point as there may be many things, that are new to both, disagreements are bound to happen. As a parent, we also take time to adjust to the fact that our kids are no more toddlers but growing with their own perceptions and should not be forced by adults’ mindsets. They need respect and validation of their perspective that is unconditional and not seeded with their academic performance or their choice of friends or fashion etc., the most common choking points in a parent-child relationship.
The thread of authority by parents needs to be loosened so that the young ones can articulate their doubts/ fears and thoughts. Quality time spent with children and letting them explore their interest areas and feelings act as a confidence booster and build trust and understanding, the most important pillars in a healthy relationship. A parent should be vigilant but not overprotective or too inquisitive about their life, a balance of it is important. A receptive parent acknowledging their emotions instill a seed of self-compassion and setting the right priorities, the most valuable life skill for healthy, happy, and fulfilling life. No matter how busy as a parent we may be in our professional or other personal commitments, like any other daily job, talking to kids and sharing and listening to them and making them comfortable in expressing their minds help them to evolve as confident individuals. A comforting parent is a source of love and hope, that will secure them in the swings of life.
If as a parent one feels challenged in talking about it, immediately professional help should be taken.
Parent-child is a beautiful relationship and just like a gardener a parent must take care of the tiny saplings (kids) and nurture them with balanced nutrients of love, care, respect, support, and guidance from time to time. The communication gap and lack of understanding are the weeds that need constant removal. All the nutrients at the right time and in the right quantity will help the sapling blossom into a beautiful flower, a mentally strong, confident, and happy individual. So as a parent let us try and enter in the shoes of our teens and see the world from their eyes while tenderly holding our precious gems with care and love.
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