Your kiddo, your sweet, loving, joyful kiddo is somebody else and you were not prepared for this change to happen so soon! You knew it was going to happen, but all of a sudden they jerk their shoulder away when you touch them, you feel like you have the plague. They seem to not want to be part of the family. It feels like forever since they seemed to want to be around you.
And their tone of voice! Don’t even get started on the tone of voice they use! It feels familiar, like you can remember being a teenager, but now that you’re on the other side of it as a parent, it feels so, so, so sad. You’re grieving the loss of your kiddo. Just like you no longer have the chubby baby that cooed and moved into a toddler, you now have this new person in the family.
Maybe you’ve noticed there’s some things they really seems to be struggling with like a lot of worries, negative self talk, a pessimistic attitude. Maybe there seems to be A LOT more fighting in the house, they don’t seem to want to listen and challenge you every step of the way. It’s scary, because you know the dangers out there and your number one job is to keep this kid of yours alive but it seems like you have less and less ability to do that when they hardly talk and don’t want to be around you. It’s so hard to trust that everything is okay, and your gut is telling you something doesn’t seem right and you aren’t sure what to do. Is this normal? Am I being overprotective? Do I need to step back? Do I need to be more involved? Does this parenting thing EVER get any EASIER!!??
And you know for sure when you’ve tried to talk to them about it they do not want to go there with you, you get the eye roll, the huffing and the shut down and you’re wondering what the heck do I do now! They seem more emotionally volatile, the ups and downs seem more intense and you both are wondering ‘Is this normal!?’.
My favourite analogy I’ve come across is that you used to have a dog, it looked at you and loved you and cuddled on your lap and wanted to go everywhere with you and then you woke up and now it’s a cat. It looks at you like you’re an alien. Maybe it will grace you with its presence but don’t try to get too close or it goes back into hiding. Sometimes you can pet it, and sometimes it bites you. You feel like you never know what one you’re going to get! You were used to your loving dog, and now you have to get used to living with this cat and it’s okay to feel sad! It’s also okay to be upset when it scratches you! We need to set up some new boundaries here about what’s okay and not okay. Maybe that’s what has lead you to be reading this page.
They are wanting to see a counsellor that they can relate to, the parents are wanting a counsellor they also can relate to. Teens I’ve seen have wanted support around various issues including:
Perfectionism leading to paralyzing anxiety
Focusing on the negative, leading to pessimism and loss of joy
Excessive worry around social situations, overly focused and worried about saying or doing the wrong thing
Overwhelming anxiety about the future, increasing responsibilities and becoming an adult
Feeling like they are on an emotional roller coaster, with lots of ups and downs and unsure if this is normal
Involved in a romantic relationship that has red flags around co-dependence, controlling and is impacting self esteem
Struggling with friends, whether it’s toxic friendships that they are unsure how to end, or challenging dynamics
I share information with parents pertaining to risk of harm to self and other (self harm, suicidal ideation and attempts) as well as any incidents of physical, sexual or emotional abuse. and if I am required by court. When it comes to other events that fall into a more grey area, we explore this further in detail during our intake appointment.
I love to work with both, and will work the family members separately and together when ready. If I am ever meeting with a teen and feel there is an issue that would benefit from including their parents in the discussion, then I review this with the teen. We will talk about why I feel it would be helpful, what their concerns are if we were to do so, how we would go about it, and ultimately determine if they are on board with it.