Finding out that you have a transgender child or one who is exploring gender identity can be a jarring moment for most parents. It’s not news that parents are typically prepared to handle, even if they’re supportive when they receive word. There are a lot of do’s and don’ts to keep in mind if your child shares that they are transgender.
Going away to college is one of the most life changing events that happens in any young adult’s life, and it’s common for many college students to experience feelings of sadness and loneliness when they go away to school.
David Daskovsky, senior psychologist at Yellowbrick, says students often feel sad and lonely, especially during their freshman year, as they are bombarded with an avalanche of changes – everything from separation and loss of family and friends, the pressure of dealing with more rigorous coursework, and the challenge of having to figure out where they fit in socially.
“It’s remarkable anybody makes the transition unscathed,” Daskovsky says.
But for some students, these feelings of sadness and loneliness can turn into major battles with depression that can lead to them dropping out of school or committing suicide.
In fact, a 2009 study from the University of Michigan found that college students with depression were more than twice as likely to drop out of school, and a 2009 report in Professional Psychology showed that more than half of all college students have contemplated suicide.
So if you’re a parent of a college student, how do you know if your son or daughter’s feelings of sadness are normal or are a sign of more serious depression?
Daskovsky says it’s important to keep the lines of communication open so you’re able to tell what’s going on with your son or daughter’s mental health.
“If someone is just homesick, they would be sad, but they would be able to function,” Daskovsky says. “But if somebody who normally would be communicative is not responding to texts or calls, or is not sleeping or losing interest in things that used to be pleasurable, that might be a sign of depression.”
Other signs of depression can include:
- Not going to class; lack of interest in school
- Change of appetite or weight
- Sleeping too much or not enough
- Increased use of drugs or alcohol
- Trouble concentrating
- Extreme anger
- Thoughts of suicide or dying
Daskovsky says students may also become depressed if they feel like they don’t have a specific direction for where their life is going or if they feel they have failed to live up to their parents’ expectations.
If you suspect that your son or daughter may be depressed at college, here are some things you can do:
- Ask Them How They Feel
To determine how serious your son or daughter’s depression is, ask them to compare their current feelings to how they have felt in the past.
- Express Your Concerns Directly
“Don’t dance around the issue,” Daskovsky says. “Tell your son or daughter that you are concerned about them.”
- Encourage Them To Seek Help
If you determine that your son or daughter is suffering from depression, remind them that they are not alone. Encourage them to seek help from their college’s counseling office.
- Tell Someone
You can also communicate with the school’s the counseling office or your child’s advisor to alert the school of the problem and so someone on campus is aware and paying attention to your son or daughter’s condition.
Get more information about Yellowbrick’s approach to treating depression among college students and young adults.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can directly affect individuals transitioning into adulthood. When it comes to taking on adult responsibilities, like developing or maintaining a stable career path, moving out of the family home, building personal and professional relationships, or adhering to healthy coping skills, ADHD can inhibit the successes of an emerging adult, if left undiagnosed or mistreated.
Emerging adulthood is a developmental period where the tasks for the young adult are related to separation/individuation from one’s family, exploration of an identity, establishment of self-agency, development of a passion or direction in life, and engagement in peer and romantic relationships. Continue reading Adoption and Young Adults
Will your parenting style promote the college and career success of your emerging adult? How much parent involvement encourages the development of critical skills needed for future success? Which educational and employment situations should parents let young adults handle on their own? How can parents influence college and career success? Continue reading Parenting Your Emerging Adult for College and Career Success
Getting fired from a job can be a major blow. It turns life upside-down, similar to the effects of a traumatic experience, shaking up normal routines and rupturing sense of self. Emerging adults may feel the loss with a wide range of emotions, and may have a hard time thinking about securing future employment. As a parent, help an emerging adult who was fired from a job by listening, offering validation, suggesting self-reflection on career goals, and finding resources for career planning.
Listen actively and openly
Support your emerging adult who was fired from a job by listening to their feelings. Allow ample time and an unbiased position for your child to process the tough emotions brought about from losing their job. Understand that getting fired from a job is, indeed, a loss and may incur feelings associated with grief. Continue reading My Emerging Adult Was Fired From A Job, How Can I Help As A Parent?
Parents lose sleep from the time they discover parenthood awaits. Unfortunately, sacrificing slumber seems naturally connected to parenthood, regardless of age. While brand new parents tend to the needs of their sweet, little babes around the clock, parents of struggling young adults wait up worrying about what challenges will arise next. Parents cannot sleep at night for countless reasons, but having an emerging adult child in therapy surely sparks insomnia.
Young adults enter therapy programs at overwhelming times, like during family or identity crises, resulting from trauma, when relationships with drugs, alcohol, body image, or food become dangerous or if set apart with a social, emotional, or physical disability. With the uncertainty of a positive outcome at hand, it is no wonder parents cannot sleep at night when their child admits to an intensive residential program or spends every evening going to group therapy. Continue reading How to Get Sleep When Your Child Is In Therapy
The holiday season brings about plenty of stress as parents of young adult college students prepare for winter break. When college students return home for winter break, they tend to bend the rules. After all, it’s hard to get back into the parent-child perimeters, after being out on your own. Often, when kids come home from college, break-long blow-ups begin. Arguments erupt about time spent with friends, curfews, and alcohol consumption.
To ease the tension throughout winter break, parents should plan on negotiating with their college students. This means parents might either have to loosen up a little, or, at times, will have to firmly, yet fairly, set boundaries of acceptable behavior. Continue reading Negotiating Tensions Through Winter Break with a College Student Home for the Holidays
As children grow into young adulthood, difficulties and challenges arise, testing the capabilities of healthy social, behavioral, and emotional functioning. Emerging adults, while still finding their purpose and place in the world, often approach new-found trials and tribulations with extreme emotions and impulsive behaviors. Continue reading Does My Child Need a Psychiatrist?
Summer triggers excessive behavior, especially for adult children living at home with their parents. To your young adult, it’s prime time to spend nights in beer tents until dawn or to stay out with friends, experimenting with drugs like marijuana or cocaine. The pressure of tight tank tops and barely-there bikinis influence extreme summer diets. It’s a tough time to parent, to guide, and to negotiate boundaries with your adult children.
Distinguishing the Norm from the Not
Surely, this is normal and encompassed within parenting young adults – until you detect a pattern, leaving its mark of concern, worry, anger, shame, guilt or judgement across your heart. How do you approach your child once you’ve suspected they’re down a dangerous path? Do you find yourself parenting, or policing your adult teen through summer?
Positive parenting techniques for young adults living at home with their parents often includes the practice of simple social skills needed to develop healthy relationships. By offering mutual respect, actively listening to each other, and intentional compromising, parents and adult children negotiate boundaries to which both feel satisfaction. But what if positive parenting just isn’t enough to keep your teen or young adult on track? How do you parent when you suspect a drug addiction or eating disorder?
Policing vs. Parenting
Policing their choices, or attempting to control the who, what, when, and where’s of their lives, seems like a logical strategy to attempt when things have fallen far from deviant. Parents police for various reasons. With threat upon their young adult’s safety, parents impose restrictions, struggling to keep their families intact and their children alive. Others aim to regulate their adult child’s actions, masking the severity of the situation from friends and family. Parents look for a sense of control as they try to subdue the chaos and destruction that has taken over their adult children’s lives. Decisions to enforce guidelines and restrictions for adult children, choices intended to help, may actually enable addiction and ultimately lead to dangerous outcomes. Ultimately, they unwittingly reinforce an experience of inadequacy, ineffectiveness and loss of authority within the young adult.
Where to Turn
If you find yourself trying to control your young adult’s every move, you may feel overwhelmed with anxiety and alone. With crisis present at all times, you pray for solutions. You’ve come to a dead end, not sure how the situation will ever turn around. One thing is for sure, change has to happen.
It will take everyone’s combined effort to initiate positive change. Parents and young adults, in collaboration, negotiating limitations and agreeing on a set of consequences, often see positive results. While parents need to let addicted young adults know where their boundaries are and what they are not willing to support, acknowledging an adult child’s voice, view, and vision may be what it takes to turn things around. Empower young adults to take control of their wellness. This may sound impossible, but trust in your adult child and expand your support system to include skilled professionals. Bringing others into the system may unlock powerful stalemates.
With an open outlook and attitude, families experiencing these struggles will need to welcome professional help. The Life Strategies Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) at Yellowbrick provides adults ages 18-30 years old the outlet to explore identity, gain self-acceptance and regulation, and emerge as young adults while partnering with comforting, compassionate skilled professionals. With peer community involvement as a cornerstone to Yellowbrick’s treatment experience, developmental processes help young adults evolve and be successful in school, work, and society. Learn more.
Positive parenting works, even when addiction threatens the health and safety of adult children. By helping adult children recognize healthy limits, negotiating acceptable boundaries, and seeking a support network, parents can empower their young adults to make choices for a safe, productive and meaningful summer for them and the entire family.