Anxiety and Depression have been on the increase and not just since covid, but for many, many years. When I worked in foster care every child suffered from an anxiety disorder of some sort. Acting out with negative behaviors in school is often attributed to attention- deficit, but I believe much of it is misdiagnosed anxiety rooted in abuse.
For girls, there are many reasons why they express anxiety, worry, and fear throughout their day. In truth, there is a lot to worry about. Will I be rejected by my friends, will I grow up like my mom who is allowing herself to be used, abused, and bruised? Will I ever be loved unconditionally or will I always want more than I can receive? These questions are hard to get answers for mostly because it's not topics moms are discussing with their girls. So, moms just see the worry on their daughter's faces and send them to therapy to let the therapist try to figure it out. I applaud the mothers who are overwhelmed yet still care enough to get their daughters (and sons) the help they need.
Mom's it's not as hard as it seems, but you do need to be patient, kind, and listen more than you talk. Which are the reasons most moms give for NOT being able to communicate with their children, especially their emotional daughters who stomp their feet and walk away too easily. One mother told me how long it took for her to be able to find out what was happening with her daughter who had become depressed and refused to talk to her,
"Years ago when my daughter was 11, she had a meltdown. I mean a real meltdown where she lost it. She was throwing things around her bedroom, breaking things, tearing down curtains, and even overturned her bed. I ran in to see what was the commotion and angry at what I saw in the destruction of the room, I realized there was even more disorder inside my daughter's mind. So, I didn't do what I normally would do, which is to scream at her and tell her to clean up her room and get her act together. This time, I saw she needed me. This time, I knew if I didn't stop and make her my priority she might not be there the next time. So, I grabbed her hand and walked to the living room couch. There was no one home besides us and I softly asked, "What's wrong honey." She didn't say anything for three hours. THREE HOURS! I sat there quietly. I didn't press her. I waited...and waited...and waited. I made sure to not take any heavy breaths that might trigger a reaction from her. I bit my lip so I wouldn't try to solve anything. Even when I had to use the bathroom, I waited. Eventually, she looked my way and said, "I've been thinking of killing myself."
This mother saved her daughter's life that day. Because she was patient, kind, and was willing to listen, no matter the length of time it took, she avoided the worst nightmare of her life, the loss of a child to suicide. Mothers have so much control and power over the salvation of our youth, but they are distracted by the challenges of being a single mother, or working a full-time job, or trying to find their own happiness, they seldom take the time to check in on their children who also may be contemplating suicide.
Put down your phone and turn off the distractions of your life. Give your children your time, not your extra time. Make them your priority, not your girlfriends, your lover, or your job. They need your love, your kindness, your empathy, and your compassion. They need to know you and they want you to know them. Take them someplace quiet, walk in the forest, along a beach, or kayak on a lake. Go for a bike ride, a drive through the country, and tune out the static and tune into your child. You both will benefit from the experience and build a deeper connection.
“Life doesn’t come with a manual. It comes with a mother.”— Unknown