I always like to discuss family health and wellness on this site, and haven’t posted an update lately. Unfortunately I haven’t been posting because the news isn’t good. My teenagers are not doing well in regards to their mental health.
I have four kids ages 6, 14, 16, and 19.
I feel like I’ve been given a 2nd chance at parenting, because there is such an age gap between the youngest and the older ones. I’ve changed a lot of my parenting practices. With my 6 year old I’m generally more relaxed and everything, because I saw how controlling the older ones too much backfired. I’m reading a book about raising intuitive eaters and trying to do more of that with him. I’m hoping that I can keep him interested in after school activities because otherwise, he’s a couch potato. My other kids were as well, and I feel I made the mistake of being too critical and forcing exercise. So I’m trying to loosen up with my son and just make sure he’s busy with cub scouts, church school, piano lessons, and a sport throughout the year. So all those activities mean that he has something to do almost 7 days a week. He also does chores and family time. So far he really loves it. I don’t think he feels over scheduled. He still has a lot of down time. When he’s home he just does what he chooses and I try not to worry about how many hours of screen-time he’s getting, as long as it’s good quality and kid appropriate. He doesn’t have access to his own device so everything is done on the TV in our living room so it’s highly monitored. I feel pretty good about this, and hopefully he will learn to self-manage. With my teens, they built up a lot of resentment toward me, and viewed screentime as a forbidden fruit. So when I limited it, they just got mad and tried harder to sneak it. I think this method will work better for my kids.
All three teenagers are struggling with their mental health and disordered eating. Their therapists told me to always have their preferred foods on hand. So I’ve been buying extra food for the 14 and 16 year old (but I feel my 19 year old is old enough to buy food independently.) It’s just really tricky and made my grocery bill go up.
The good news is my 14 and 16 year old have expressed SOME desire to exercise. They are all severely depressed and generally don’t have a reason to stand up. But, we all went on a 22 mile bike ride last weekend at Apple Cider Century in Three Oaks, MI. Everyone except our 19 year, who stayed home to go to work. But then my 19 year old got fired for not showing up, so that was upsetting. But my 14 and 16 year old want to go for 50 miles next year.
So mostly my teens are still struggling but I’m trying my best to follow through with their therapists recommendations. And I feel like I need to continue backing off and letting them figure things out themselves. I hope and pray they will get better and things will be alright. I do see glimmers of hope!