I spent the weekend with a friend recently who confided in me that her teenage son was really struggling at home, in school and with friends. She and her husband don’t know what to do, how to handle the situation or where to turn. Her house and life is in constant chaos and hugely stressful.
Geez, could I empathize! I remember walking on eggshells around Chloe, trying desperately not to rock the boat and throw her into a major rage that could last hours. It was a miserable time in our household that lasted for years. We were, in essence, prisoners of our own home by our daughter from the time she was five or six years old until she attended treatment last summer. For those who don’t deal with mental illness on a daily basis, it can be difficult to understand and sympathize with the situation, concluding it MUST be poor parenting.
Now, my friend’s son has been branded “a difficult” kid by his school, unwilling to cooperate and a trouble-maker. I feel sad and frustrated for my friend and her family who aren’t receiving the resources they so desperately need from the school. I understand what it feels like to have nowhere to turn; to feel completely isolated and alone.
I suggested to my friend that she take her son to get evaluated by a professional. I don’t know whether he has a mental illness but from what I understand, his self esteem is plummeting and he’s becoming depressed, withdrawn, out of control and lost in the school system. In the very least, he may be able to benefit from some professional guidance.
One of the best lessons I learned from Chloe’s treatment was that kids don’t want to behave badly and they do the best they can with what they have. Whether that’s a caring and supportive family, a chemical imbalance which causes undue stress and chaos, or a situation filled with abuse and drugs, we all are products of our environment, and in some cases, nature. I’m proud of my friend for having the courage to confide in me about her family’s struggles and seek answers. She’s taking the first step in regaining a healthy home. Lemonade for her!