For the last year or so Roxanne and I have had a growing concern about one of our sons who has been struggling with anxiety and feeling down. So we reached out to our friends, family, and neighbors (our \”home team\”) in a confidential letter asking for their support. This was a humbling experience, but one that I could not avoid, as for years now I\’ve been preaching the value of parents reaching out to others for help in bringing their teens home from treatment. How could I then, in my own family\’s need, not reach out and do the same? My son needed to know that he was important to others outside of our family.
The outpouring of love has been instantaneous, creative and inspiring and it has clearly made a difference to our son. Now let me share with you just one, very simple but powerful things that have happened in his scout troop where his two scout leaders received the letter.
From the day they received the letter, one called to tell me what he had observed in troop activities. Another made a point during a meeting where parents were present, to announce that our boy had broken the troop record for the longest flexed arm hang. A couple of weeks ago we were late getting him to scouts and his leader just came by and picked him up. Our son knows he would be missed if he wasn\’t there. Then last weekend my son and I went on a winter camp out called the \”Klondike Derby\” (not my favorite time of the year to camp!). The boys love it because they get to race the sled they made against the other troops in the area. But the most important experience for him must have been the genuine interest that his leaders paid to him as we stood around the campfire. They teased him, asked his opinion, took his picture, and they just talked to him one-on-one. His smile told me that he felt good.
Does sharing some of the worries in your heart about one of your children seem awkward or hard? Then simply pick one person to talk to or send an email to. Start there. Please know that in my experience, with literally thousands upon thousands of the people who have been \”invited\” to be involved with a struggling teen, people overwhelmingly feel honored by being included! How would you feel if another parent called you? Let them know that there is no specific expectation from you, but that you hope that by knowing a little more of \”the story\” they will take that permission and reach out to the child in some way that will make a difference.
A healthy adult isn\’t built in one day, or by one other person. We all have the responsibility and privilege to positively influence those around us.
Give it a try!