“Back in my day, kids were kids! We worked out our problems on our own. We didn’t go crying to some stranger with a whole bunch of initials after his name.”
Gus was ridiculing a conversation a fellow therapist and I were having about a 13-year-old she was treating for depression and acute anxiety. I didn’t rise to his bait, but it wasn’t because I had no interest in defending my profession. Rather, as with the college guys at the other end of the bar lamenting yet another epic collapse by their beloved Jets (this was before the team got good), it was that I’d heard the complaint so often it had become tiresome.
I don’t know if you hang out with the same old codgers that I do, but this idea that today’s kids somehow have it better than any other generation (as if that’s a bad thing) seems to be whined about on a semi-regular basis. The rhetoric is kids will turn out to be “soft” rather than strong if they get support during these formative years. That assumption is not only inaccurate, it perpetuates a negative behavior pattern if that kid grows up never receiving the help he needs.
Most children exercise very little power over the decisions that affect their lives. They don’t decide who their parents are, where their family will live, where they will attend school, when they will reach puberty, who will or will not befriend them. They have limited control over their athletic skills, their looks, their wit, or whether, in the great Serengeti that is their schoolyard, they will be predator or prey. They are as much the subject of their story as its author.
At toxic moments, the insights to be gained from a professional who takes this stuff seriously (and in some instances the medications that can bring calm to chaos) are eminently useful to the child who is looking for a narrow path through some very difficult years.
Whether it’s ADD, a broken family or getting bullied on the playground; getting troubled kids through these formative years with minimal damage will pay off in spades in the long-term. Like say, when they’re teaching their own kids how to make their way in the world.