This was one of the questions from my presentation to parents on how to prevent youth suicide in Lafayette, California. I figured it might be a common question so I wanted to post it here.
Charles didn’t comply worth squat. It was uber frustrating and what’s more, it made me feel desperate. So I have several strategies that others have shared have been effective.
- You make an appointment with a therapist. Yes, you. Not your loved one. At some point, you invite your child to go. But here’s the deal. You approach it like this. You say you went to get help because it felt like your life was spiraling and you wanted to know how to manage your feelings around the issue. Then say to your child. “I’ve been struggling so I went to a therapist for help. He has asked if I can bring in some family members to help me with my issues. Would you help me with this? You don’t have to go again if you don’t want but I would appreciate it.“
- Jacob, a dad, bought my first book, Diary of a Broken Mind. He read it and then left it lying around the house and then their teenager read it and it opened up a conversation. Charles’s lyrics are included in every other chapter and it’s that insight that helps parents understand. And the young people love them because it illustrates how they feel. Another parent, Carolyn, read it and bookmarked some of Charles’s rap songs and then specifically asked her son if that’s how he felt. Her son was shocked at how on target the passage was and it opened up an hour-long heart-to-heart conversation and listening. Ultimately her son felt seen and heard and has since been more open with his mom.
- A number of attendees at NAMI family to family, which is a free class for people who have loved ones who live with a mental health condition. One of the attendees, a dad, told his daughter he was going to this class. She asked him why and he said he felt their relationship could be better and he thought it was his lack of understanding that was getting in the way. He said he wanted to go to the class so he could understand more about what she lived with and so he could be more empathic. She cried and gave him a hug and said, “thank you.” Then they had one of the best conversations ever.