Parenting Effects on Depressed Teens


With respect to education, guidance, and discipline, every parent has a unique style. Parenting styles are often divided into two extremes: the nurturing parent and the authoritarian parent. Most parents fall somewhere in between the two on the spectrum. Your reaction to signs of a mood disorder in your child will rely on what type of parenting style you employ. When a child becomes depressed, there are effective and ineffective approaches to dealing with the problem. With a little bit of self-training and, sometimes, a little help from an expert, you’ll arrive at an effective way to help your troubled adolescent through this difficult time.

IMG_1485The Rescuing Parent

On the nurturing end of the parenting spectrum, you’ll find the rescuing parent. The rescuing parent feels the effects of the teen’s depression along with their child. They will do anything they can to alleviate these feelings — they love their child and will help in any way they can. Unfortunately, this can go too far and have negative effects. We’ve seen parents who allow a depressed child to stay home from school to protect them from bad feelings or, even worse, do homework for the child so they don’t get behind in their schoolwork. The parent, of course, is doing these things out of love for their child. Sadly, they are actually hurting the child in the process.

When a parent rescues, the child learns that the parent will step in and fix their problems. They aren’t learning to solve problems themselves, and they aren’t learning to take any responsibility. More importantly, the child is learning that they aren’t capable of solving their own problems. The child is being taught that they are not strong enough to make it on their own. Teens need to be taught that they are capable and resilient. Our programs will do just that.

The Authoritarian Parent

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the Authoritarian parent. This type of parent believes that the child can battle through their depression simply because they are told to. One problem with this parenting style is that the parent makes him- or herself emotionally unavailable to the child, and it’s important the teen feels comfortable talking through problems with their parents. Another problem is that the parent is dismissing the reality of the depression — thereby saying to the child that it’s not a valid concern. Obviously, this will have a negative impact on a child when they most need understanding and support.

What many Authoritarian parents don’t understand is that depression won’t just go away if they ignore it, and the adolescent can’t just decide to make depression go away. Teen depression is a very real, dangerous problem, and it requires treatment.

The Ideal Parenting Style for a Depressed Teen

As you’ve probably already guessed, the ideal parenting style for a depressed teen (or any teen, for that matter) is a healthy balance of Nurturing and Authoritarian. When problems arise, a teen can be guided toward the solution without having all of his or her problems solved by mom and dad. This may be difficult for both you and your child at first, but soon they’ll feel empowered by their own abilities. They’ll learn from their failures and cherish the sense of accomplishment they earn with a job well-done.


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