There are some great charities in this world. Compassion, World Vision, A21, Interntional Justice Mission, African Hearts, and Bloom just to name a few. They work with children of poverty, abuse victims, women who need hope, and for the most part do an amazing job.
Our children are dying too. Right here. They could be a neighbour, a relative or a friend. Sadly so many die by suicide. If I ask my own children how many young people they know that have died – all of them would be able to list at least three. That’s a minimum of 15 friends! It breaks my heart. Lost hope.
There are some great resources here like Headspace, Lifeline, beyond blue & the kids help line. Yet still they deem themselves so invaluable that they take their own life.
Mental Health is such a complex issue. So many of our children that smile on the outside are dying on the inside. I don’t profess to know the reasons. I can only imagine some of it is bullying, peer pressure, family problems, abuse, low self esteem, loneliness, and pain. So much pain.
It wasn’t all that long ago our own daughter wanted to die. Or more to the point she just didn’t want to live. It hurt too much to live. Memories from a traumatic incident flooded her fragile mind, and she would cut herself to take the emotional pain and turn it into a physical one instead.
As a parent, watching your child go through this is devastating. Knowing your child is so full of potential and their future can be amazing, while watching on at their current predicament breaks your heart.
So what can we do as parents of children who are depressed or unhappy? I can probably tell you all the wrong things to do – I think I did them all, but in the end, I learnt a few things too.
Be patient. As parents we want to fix our children – for them, but sometimes it takes longer than we hoped. Never give up hope, just be patient.
Keep communicating. Talk as much as they allow and take any moments you can when they let you into their world to pour everything you can into them.
Tell them you love them ALL THE TIME! They might get sick of it, but they need it.
Be prepared to take technology off them. Our daughter would improve considerably when we took her phone away & she wasn’t dealing with everyone else’s drama as well as her own.
Be the parent. This was the best advice I got along the way. Let their counsellor be their counsellor, their friends be their friends, and you be their parent. We all have different roles to play and we can’t play them all.
If they have been the victim of abuse and you are a father especially, HUG them! Men often feel as though they can’t hug a daughter who has been hurting – but they need it . They need to know they are safe & secure in their Dad’s arms.
Keep speaking a vision of the future into their lives. Not reminding them they will get through this – but planting ideas of where they could go, what they could do, who they can be. Always speak future into their lives.
Pray for them. Never give up asking God for protection, breakthrough, wisdom.
It’s very hard as parents to find support when you have a child going through depression. The journey we went on was very lonely, so if you have a support network, lean on it. You will need it. Your friends will always listen, laugh with you, cry with you.
Sadly, we won’t be able to save every young person that is suicidal, and I can’t imagine anything harder than being a parent in these situations.
There may be a young person that isn’t your own son or daughter… Love them too. If we can all influence just one person in our lives, we make a difference.
And if you struggle with mental health – get all the help you can from Dr’s, psychologists, friends, family.
Each and every life is incredibly precious. You are loved and loveable. You were created with a purpose and to bring hope to others. There is a future waiting for you that is going to blow your mind with goodness and love, laughter, happiness. You are never alone. No matter how you feel there are people who care. People who want you in their world because you make a difference. Love yourself, be patient with yourself and talk – as much as you can.
Life is worth living.