Communication Skills Examples in Parenting
If you are a parent of a teen who has suffered from depression, then it’s important to know what to do after the worst is behind you. So much has been written about what to do for your depressed teen, how to help someone with depression, and tips to keep in mind while helping someone with depression. But when a teenage boy or girl has wrestled with clinical depression symptoms for several months, and then begins to feel better during treatment, it’s easy for a parent to create unnecessary setbacks during a very delicate time. Consider these these two communication skills examples of parents talking with their teens who are in treatment for depression but are now starting to recover well.
Communication Skills Examples: The Key Elements to Notice
Teenage depression can be a formidable foe. Helping someone with depression with suicidal tendencies is exhausting for most family members who take it seriously. When that person is your own child, it is doubly stressful. As a result, a parent can become quite exhausted and worn down by the ordeal of guidling their teenage son or daughter through darkest part of the tunnel. This fatique makes it easy for a parent to become pushy when the teen begins to show signs of returning to normal. Of course, it’s not spoken, but the attitude of the mom or dad can go something like this, “Finally you are getting better! I’m so burnt out that I want you to get back in the saddle ASAP and be of more help around here!”
But coming out of depression is often a very delicate time. So what does a tired parent do? First, you muster a little more patience. Consider this: you have put enough of yourself to get your child through this dark depression that you don’t want the progress to unravel now. Second, notice specific symptoms of depression that are changing. Then, use what you observe to make encouraging remarks to your teen. When you are able to pinpoint positive reversals of depression symptoms, you can make comments to your teen that help them see the progress for themselves.
More Communication Skills Examples of Parents
Let’s look at some communication skills examples of how to do this. Each example pertains to parents who have been in the trenches battling teenage depression.
The first of our communication skills examples illustrates how a parent can encourage a teen by pointing out real evidence that things are getting better. It also shows how to not push or move too quickly by suddenly increasing expectations. Marie has a 15 year old daughter, Haley, who is a good student, loves sports, and makes friends easily. During Haley’s first year of high school her grades suddenly began to drop. She withdrew from friends and family so much that Marie wondered if Haley was getting into drugs. She wasn’t. She was sliding into a deep depression and exhibiting clinical depression symptoms such as sadness most of the day, hoplessness about the present and future, isolation from friends, and great difficulty getting started doing any activity such as homework.
Marie took her to therapy, got her medication treatment, and after 5 months, and several sleepless nights, Marie began to see her daughter coming back to life. Haley was starting to get better at finishing assignments at school and was starting to talk postively about her goals for the future. She had a long way to go, but there were enough changes that Marie could see that the ice was beginning to melt. The depression was lifting.
Each of these two changes are directly related to two common symptoms of depression: difficulty getting started with work and hopelessness. Because Marie knew this she could say to Haley, “Looks like things might be getting better for you, you have plans…you didn’t used to have any plans or anything to look forward to.” Or, “I’ve noticed you have been doing your homework lately and getting it done. You just might be getting better.”
The second of our communication skills examples illustrates how a parent can mistakenly pile expectations to “get back to normal” too quickly. Janice is concerned about her 13 year old son Jon who has been depressed ever since the divorce several months ago. Janice is not only stressed out by her recent divorce, but she is overwhelmed by the additional challenges of parenting her boy through teenage depression with full-blown clinical depression symptoms. He shows some of the same clinical depression symptoms that we saw in the first of our communication skills examples. But in addition, he cannot concentrate very well, which affects his listening. He resorts to acting like he listens and subsequently gets into trouble at school or at home. After treatment and a few difficult months, Jon begins to show signs that he is feeling better.
Loss of the ability to concentrate is one of the “standard” clinical depression symptoms. But Janice never had time or took the time to learn about depression. When she saw a little improvement in his listening, she jumped to the conclusion that it was “high time” for Jon to resume all of his family responsibilities and “stop using the depression as an excuse.” Janice never really grasped the fact that depression in a 13 year old boy is not simply a choice he made. She tended to be hard on him and a result she triggered an unnecessary setback in Jon’s recovery.
These brief communication skills examples serve as reminders that teenage depression requires parenting that will go the who distance with a child. For single parents, this is especially taxing. As a result, it is important that parents of depressed teens monitor their own needs for social support, friendship, and encouragement. This not only makes us stronger and more patient as parents, but also helps prevent resentment for just how much effort teenage depression can require from us.