Self-harm a serious issue that affects many teens and, often, their families aren’t aware that it’s even happening. Either parents may not be aware of the tell-tale signs to look for or they have no inkling that their teen is troubled enough to resort to such an extreme coping mechanism.
As the parent of a teen who has had self-harm issues, I have experienced the heart-breaking discovery, the struggles to understand and cope with the knowledge that my daughter was in serious emotional pain. It was easy to over-react and become over-emotional but I quickly learned that doing so was far from effective. Still, how could I possibly remain calm? My maternal instincts kicked in and I wracked my brain, trying to figure out how to fix what was wrong. I thought that, maybe if I told her how much her doing that hurt me to my heart, she’d stop. But it didn’t work. Of course it didn’t work. It wasn’t about my pain, but hers. It wasn’t about comparing my teenage years to hers, even though I sometimes still catch myself saying, “When I was 15, we didn’t cope with pain that way.” We didn’t, but those were different times. We didn’t have smartphones that kept us connected to social media, when I was 15. We didn’t have global influence because our world was limited to our immediate proximity. The Internet makes it possible for us to learn about other cultures, good and bad, and it’s difficult to restrict access to the cultures that aren’t necessarily good for our children.
With self-harm becoming more wide-spread, there is a real need for parents to band together so that we can figure out how to put an end to the destructive ways that our younger generation chooses to cope with their stresses. There are websites that offer guides to the things teens can use to cut, if nothing else is available. I can’t find the words to express how awful this makes me feel, particularly since I have tried my best to keep the sharp objects out of reach. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know how far someone will go, if they’re determined to cut. My daughter has broken make-up mirrors.
And so, here I am, forming a support network for parents, like me, who want/need help but can’t find any existing networks. I am not a licensed counselor but I have done my research and learned how to cope with this issue, through trial and error. I have found strategies that work and some that don’t. I have also learned that we have to simply take one day at a time, with the ultimate goal being to find alternative coping skills. Healing is an ongoing process.
If you are a parent of a teen who self-harms, I invite you to get in touch via the contact form. I will listen, brainstorm with you to find solutions that are specific to your needs and, if necessary, help you find relevant agencies, counselors, etc. As parents, we must be willing to start a dialogue which will eventually lead to long-term solutions so that self-harm can become a thing of the past.
Please spread the word to all parents, particularly if you know someone who may need help.
Thank you for reading.