We want our military kids to stay young, we wish they would grow up. After years of teaching, nurturing and disciplining, our babies hit the teen years and start to spread their wings. And while we are still responsible for them – both physically and emotionally – it’s time we begin to let go.
When they are little it’s simple. If they are hungry we feed them, sick we nurture them back to health. And if they are hurt we kiss them to make it better. But things change when they hit the teen years. The “I’m, fine” response no longer holds true. A slammed door or angry retort to the simple inquiry whether chores are complete may not have anything to do with the question at hand. It can feel as though all of our parenting savvy disappeared overnight.
When my children were teens I found myself wondering if they were ok all of the time. I questioned if our military lifestyle was taking its toll, and wondered how badly they were being affected. I pondered if the changes I saw in them were normal or were they indicative of something more.
Maybe you have been concerned that your adolescent or young adult is at risk just like I was, and I hope that you never have to experience the hardships that can result from conditions of depression, suicide ideation and addiction like we did. In fact helping your family before it’s too late is the reason that I write articles like this and why we share our story and founded Living Thru Crisis.
When my son a teenager I thought his behaviors were typical. He was like so many other military teens I see day in and day out; he could adapt to deployments and temporary duty assignments much like we all did. What I didn’t see, until it was almost too late was that warning signs of something more serious were present. I just had no idea what to look for but now I do.
Here are the Social and Physical Warning Signs Parents Can’t Ignore:
- Physical Warning Signs: One of the easiest sign to see are the physical ones. Maybe your teen begins to look a little pale, or isn’t sleeping like they typically do. Physical warning signs are often the first to raise a red flag. If you notice the following physical warning signs we suggest you take your child to their primary care physician to rule out any medical issues and determine if your child may be in need of some additional help.
- Extreme or unusual fatigue
- Disturbed or changing sleeping patterns
- Frequent illnesses or complaints
- Bloodshot or glazed eyes
- Pupils are extremely large or small
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Abrupt change in how your child dresses or difference in personal hygiene
- Social Warning Signs: The adolescent and college years are a time when your child is learning who they are and how they fit into the world outside of their nuclear family. It can also be an awkward time full of insecurities and peer pressure. If your child exhibits any of the following warning signs it may indicate a need for some professional help.
- Concerned teachers, counselors or friends
- Change in school behaviors: drop in grades, cutting class, increase in reasons not to attend school, regularly missing the bus
- Regularly breaking rules
- Lying, dishonesty & secretive behavior
- Refusal to be accountable for time, behavior or every day responsibilities
- Unable to explain how money was spent
- Radical change in friendships
- Sudden increase/decrease in social life
I get that every child is different, and believe that you know your child best. What may be cause for alarm with Johnny may be an indication that Suzie just needs a little bit of extra TLC. I encourage you to observe, discuss and act- always on the side of caution- if your teen/young adult exhibits any these Warning Signs. (For additional information to help determine if your teen is at risk grab a copy of our new e-book here)
Teen suicide ideation, depression and addiction are problems that aren’t going away, in fact it is a growing crisis that we must address not only as parents but as a community. Is it the times? Is it the environment? We’re not sure, but what we do know is that as parents you need to arm yourselves with everything you can to combat the challenges your children face. Empower yourself with the information that tells you what to look for and find your child the help they need as soon as you suspect that something is not right.
— Judy Davis, the Direction Diva is a motivational speaker, author, and military lifestyle blogger as well as the co-founder of LivingThruCrisis.com. She is a go to resource for military spouses and her website is filled with tips, inspiration and resources for military families. Connect with Judy at TheDirectionDiva.com