Even with the highest of intentions, we are still raising our young from old paradigms that don’t work for evolving children. The fact that teenage depression and suicide are on the rise tells us that something is very wrong.
It is easy to say that depressed kids lack self-esteem — and of course, this is true — but we need to ask why? There is a blatant and glaring reason that an epidemic of depression infiltrates our young. If you are a parent, this might be a difficult topic to embrace because it often makes us feel powerless, but when you understand the real reasons why kids are chronically depressed, you have the power to help your child turn it around.
I was a suicide outreach counselor in New York for seven years. During this time, I counseled depressed and suicidal adolescents from ages 11 to 19 years old. They told me things that they dare not tell anyone else. Every single one of these children was stressed out about school, whether they were doing well or not. These same children felt as if they had parents who judged them and with whom they could not confide. These kids felt overwhelmed and alone – and each one of them was sure that they would fail in life.
It’s not teen heartbreak that makes children suicidal. It is the ongoing stress and pressure of school and parents.
Yes, as parents we want what is best for our children and we want them to grow up to be successful, but maybe our ideas of success are actually killing them. We come from an old paradigm that says, “Do good in school, get into a good college, make a good income doing whatever you need to do in order to survive, and hopefully after retirement, you will have a few good years to enjoy what is left of your life.”
We instill fear in our children by telling them that if they don’t get proper grades, their lives are doomed to failure, but failure to what? Failure to living a joyless life. Then I say, go ahead andfail!!!
Out of our own fear, we make the idea of success more important than the spirits of our precious children. But, do grades really matter more than the emotional well-being of your child? Do you want a half-dead child with an A average, or a joyful and awake child with profound knowledge that is beyond traditional education?
I’d much rather have a child who knows his worth and knows that he can go out in the world and create anything, than a child who blindly follows along only to experience a mid-life crisis that lasts his whole life. Let’s wake up!
We’ve got it wrong and our parent’s parents got it wrong. Let’s put a halt to it right now, and stop doing what doesn’t work.
I am sharing this, not to blame anyone, but rather to inspire parents and care-givers to embrace a new paradigm that empowers our youth to wake up, step into their power and ultimately live joyful and fulfilling lives.
If we understand why our children are depressed, we have the power to help them awaken from depression, and be who they came here to be.
Although the dynamics can be complex, there are three elements that add up to teenage depression:
- Feelings of unworthiness
- Feelings of powerlessness
- Not having access to unconditional support of an adult
Feeling unworthy, powerless and alone is the breeding ground for teenage depression.
Wounding the Worth
Everywhere you look, children are relentlessly judged. Schools, religions, cultures and parents all judge children and tell them who they should be and how they should act, and if they fail to meet these expectations or requirements, they are punished, not just by losing privileges or failing in some way, but especially in the withholding of love, approval, and acceptance.
We don’t usually think of it this way, but the by-product of judgment is actually the withholding of love, approval and acceptance. When these emotional needs are withheld by judgmental parents and caretakers, children often believe that they are unworthy. To make matters worse, the human psyche interprets judgment as rejection, and more proof that the one being judged is not worthy – cutting to the soul of a young person who is naturally trying to find himself.
When children don’t feel worthy, they withdraw and go inside – we call it depression but it is actually a survival mechanism where they protect themselves from further rejection that comes in the form of judgment.
Virtually every emotional wound can be traced back to feelings of unworthiness. Feeling unworthy is the core wound of all wounds. The constant judgment that children go through on a daily basis often results in deep emotional wounds that effect the child all the way into adulthood and through his/her whole life.
You may not have much control about what goes on in school, but how you parent at home can make all the difference to the emotional well-being and development of your children.