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Have a Problem Talking to Your Parents?


Every so often, you’ll come up against an issue that’s too great for you to handle on your own.  When that happens, you’ve got to ask for help from an adult, and that’s not always easy to do.  Here are some ideas on how to ask for the help that you need:

 First, when do you know you need extra help?

          In a nutshell, you’ll need extra help if you’ve been struggling with the same problem for a long time and can’t figure out how to solve it, OR your safety is at stake.  These are some common reasons for kids to get adults involved:

-          Self-injury

-          Suicidal thoughts and/or attempts

-          Unrelenting depression

-          Bullying

-          Abuse (from boyfriends, family, friends, etc.)

-          Pregnancy

-          Eating disorders

-          Medical problems

-          Friends who are in crisis

There are other reasons, too, but these are some of the more typical ones.

 Why is it so hard for kids to talk to their parents about this stuff?

          Kids are really hesitant to get their parents involved for all different kinds of reasons.  We’re going to list a couple and then help you look at these fears from a different perspective:

-          “My parents don’t have enough money for treatment.”

There are oftentimes plenty of places in your community that will “see you on a sliding scale.”  That means they’re willing to lower their fees if your family is on a tight budget. 

-    “My parents have enough to worry about without this new problem.”

You may feel bad piling on another problem if you feel your mom and dad are already loaded down with enough.  However, a lot of times the problem you need help with will get worse over time if you don’t get treatment.  Getting help from your parents now will actually cause fewer problems down the road.

-          “My parents will be disappointed in me.”

Most parents probably wouldn’t feel that their son or daughter is a “disappointment” because they came to them for help.  Your parents may feel confused or frustrated, but they likely aren’t going to feel anywhere close to disowning you! 

-          “My parents won’t believe me.”

If you’ve been good at hiding whatever you’re suffering from, they may not believe you initially!  Sometimes denial follows shock.  If you tell your parents you’re suffering and they don’t seem to believe you, give them a day or two and then approach them again. 

-          “My parents just won’t understand.”

Quite a few parents probably don’t understand what’s going on in their kids’ heads.  A parent who really doesn’t understand something that’s bothering their kid will almost always understand one important thing: “My kid’s suffering, and I gotta do something.”  That’s the kind of understanding that you need.

-          “My parents will make it worse.”

In the short-term, it might feel like that   If you go through periods of self-neglect or self-injury, they may “nag” you more often.  But having your mom drag you out of bed when you’re depressed or take your pills in the morning is a great thing in the long run – and you know it.

-          “I think my parents are part of the problem.”

If you think your problems stem directly from your parents, go to another trusted adult for help or call us – 1-800-448-3000.

-           “I think the problem will resolve itself.”

If you’re dealing with something dangerous, painful, and/or persistent, don’t wait for it to get better on its own.  A lot of things don’t get better until you get help.

-          “I’m too ashamed to talk about it.”

Shame is a strong emotion that is often attached to problems like self-injury or bullying, for example.  Your parents will probably lob most of their questions at you when you first tell them, so it will be intense in the beginning, but eventually, they’ll usually respect your request to avoid the subject until you’re ready to talk about it at length.

-          “I don’t talk to my parents much anyway, so it’s uncomfortable.”

If you don’t feel much of a connection with your parents, it might feel funny bringing up a serious issue.  They’re still your parents, though, and even if they’re not good at expressing themselves, have faith that they care and want to help you. 

-          “I’m afraid my parents will send me away.”

Unless your specific problem threatens your own safety or the safety of others, there usually isn’t an immediate need to remove you from the home. 

-    “I’m just uncomfortable or scared to talk to my parents in general.”

Life is full of unpleasant things.  Don’t shy away from a task because it doesn’t sound like “fun.”

See next article:  “How to Talk to Your Parents”