Subject: teen depression
Question: I am a parent of a 15 yr old boy. I also have a 17 yr old boy and 9 yr old girl. I am very concerned about my 15 yr old. He rarely leaves the house other then school or sometimes going to a friends house. I try to get him motivated to do things or to join things at school. He will be starting to work this summer at a local restaurant but even to get him to go there to get the job or to pick up the working papers at school was an ordeal. He never seems happy and complains all the time and tells me I am stupid, a lousy parent, don't know anything, what are you talking about, etc.
My older son had moments but has always been involved in activities and keeps busy, doesn't torment me or his sister. This son seems to always have to comment. He says his sister gets everything but she wants to be involved with activities, do things with us & is always willing to help around the house. Do you have any suggestions? This has been many years and I keep thinking it will get better but he seems even less motivated. He does great in school with all A's and B's but he doesn't want to get into the advanced courses although he is great in English and likes to read. He is a good kid other then this--what can I do to make us have a better relationship? I might add that he has allergies and asthma & is often feeling lousy.
Answer: Dear Anonymous,
Allergies and asthma can do alot to impact moods even under the best of circumstances and this is a 15 year old. Teens are wanting to fit in and not stand out among their peers so anything they consider to be out of the ordinary magnifies their perception of being different.
First of all when I read this I thought well this child is obviously different for you to raise as your first born was more outgoing, which is common for first born children. Realize this child as is every child unique. What occurs when one child is growing up is not necessarily the same with the next child. If a child percieves they are different and their parent doesn't understand this they may interprete this misunderstanding to a belief their parent is disappointed in them. (Possible however communication will alleviate this misperception.)
What I suspect is this child is VERY emotionally sensitive. I would start by building on his strenghts, finding out what he percieves he is good at, likes to do, enjoys talking about and meet him there.
What I would not do is put up with any emotional abuse. Name calling, putting others down to make ourselves feel better is not okay. Set limits with everyone in your household and take a no tolerance stance to any type of demeaning behavior.
You didn't say if he has had any role models who behaved this way and I suspect someone in his life has as children act out what they see and hear.
Having said this, today is a new day and things can be as wonderful as you want them to be. Just by taking one step at a time in the right direction.
There is nothing more challenging nor more rewarding than raising children and you need to feel confident of your parenting if this is as bad as it has been!
M. Kay Keller