When Someone You Love Has Depression

When Someone You Love Has Depression.

Depression builds walls around people and between people. When someone you love has been dragged inside those walls, there can be a distance between you both that feels relentless. You miss them, but they’re right there beside you, except that they’re kind of not. Not in the way you both want to be anyway.

The symptoms of depression exist on a spectrum. All of them are normal human experiences, but in depression they’re intensified. Not everyone who has depression will have a formal diagnosis, so knowing what to watch out for can help to make sense of the changes you might notice.

Depression looks like a withdrawal. It feels that way too. It’s a withdrawal from everything that is enriching and life-giving. Depression sucks the life out of life. That’s how it feels. When depression bites, everything becomes hard. Life starts to hurt. Those who are bitten stop looking forward to things. They stop engaging and they stop enjoying things, even the things they used to love. They can feel hard to reach, and sometimes they can be angry or appear as though they don’t care. That isn’t because they want to withdraw from you or push you away, they don’t, although it can feel that way. 

Here are some ways to fight for them, beside them and for the times the fight has to be theirs, behind them:

  1. Depression is never a choice.

    If people with depression could be happy, they would be. Depression leaves people feeling as though they’ve been scooped out with a spoon. It’s a hijacking of everything that feels good. The hopelessness, emptiness and loneliness is relentless. If they knew how to be any other way, they would be. 

  2. It’s okay to feel frustrated or angry.

    The helplessness of loving someone with depression can be frustrating, exhausting and lonely. It’s okay to feel angry at times, or as though you want to throw your hands in the air and walk away. You’re human and when you love someone with depression, there will be times that you’ll be in the arena too, fighting the battle. Remember that you’re fighting a common enemy and it’s depression, not the person beside you. Try to see through the symptoms to the person you know, because they’re in there.

  3. Depression is a withdrawal, but not from you.

    When you love someone with depression it can feel as though you’ve lost them for a while. The person you’ve always known and loved is still there, but they’ve withdrawn into themselves, away from the pain and hopelessness of it all, not away from you. It just feels like the safest place to be, but it doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t have you right there with them if they knew how to do that.

  4. You’re grieving too.

    Depression steals people. If the depression has been around for long enough, you might feel a sense of grief. If you need to get angry, sad, or fall to your knees some days, that’s okay. You’re fighting a battle too. It’s okay to pull back to recharge now and then. Be kind to yourself and do something that replenishes you. Reach out to someone, but don’t lean on the person with depression. People with depression already see themselves as a burden, and anything that inflames that might cause them to withdraw even more.

  5. When nothing is as powerful as something.

    People with depression won’t always have the words and will feel the burden of being with you when they don’t know what to say or do. Let them know that you love that version of them too – the one that has nothing to say, or plenty to say but no will to say it. Let them know that you’re there for them even if they don’t want to talk. Silence with someone can be lovely when you’re depleted. ‘You don’t have to be anyone different to who you are. You don’t need to change or pretend or put on a happy face. I love you and I’m here for you.’

  6. People with depression are strong.

    People with depression are some of the strongest people I’ve met. They have to be. The pain and hopelessness of depression is immense and to keep existing day after day under the weight of that takes an almighty fight, fuelled by almighty strength and courage. 

  7. What they’re doing makes sense.

    We all have needs we can’t give up. They’re the big ones and they’re an inescapable part of being human – love, validation, respect, visibility, safety, influence, connection, appreciation, purpose. You know the ones. When one of these needs isn’t met, the temptation can be to push it down – to ‘depress’ it – to where it’s out of awareness and can’t cause trouble. But of course, any symptom whether physical or emotional will always cause trouble when it’s ignored. It takes the strength of a warrior to keep pushing things down, and getting on with life. Eventually, when people have been strong for too long the armour will crack. Depression hurts, but it makes sense. It’s a creative, adaptive withdrawal from a world that feels painful to be in.

  8. Being positive probably won’t work.

    Reframing things positively is generally done with loving intent, but most likely it just won’t work. The messages that are sent with love will likely be received as ‘nobody understands’. For someone who is being caned by depression, there is no positive. Research has found that people who are already unhappy don’t want to be talked into the glossy view of life, they just want understanding. The view of reality is shaped by a lifetime of experience and sometimes, the way people see the world is exactly the way the world is for them. Trying to push against this can work against what you’re trying to do and intensify the loneliness and desperation of it all. Reframing things in a positive way is important, but it can’t be forced.

  9. So if positive is out, what then?

    You don’t have to fix anything or change anything. If there was a way to do that, they would have done it themselves by now. Instead, acknowledge their pain, ‘I know this is really hard for you,’ and validate what they’re going through ‘I know you’re hurting. That’s understandable given what you’re going through’, or ‘I know you’re fighting a tough battle right now.’ Be the one who can be with them without having to change them. This will probably explode your own feelings of helplessness, but reworking things towards a positive angle will ease your helplessness, not theirs. That helplessness you’re feeling is the bit you’re doing together. So is the pain and the confusion of that. That’s what makes your love unconditional and your support something extraordinary.

  10. Try not to let the negative talk go on and on and on and on and …

    It’s really important to hear people from where they are, but if the discussion of a negative thought goes on and on and on and starts to feel circular, it’s not good for anyone. It’s called rumination and it can make it harder to move through depression. Talk about it with them for sure, but try to persuade the conversation in a different direction after a while if you can.

  11. If you’re struggling for words, let those be the words.

    There’s no need to gloss it up. The truth is that it’s hard to know what to say because there’s nothing that can take away the pain. Don’t worry about saying the ‘right’ thing, there is no right thing. Instead say the ‘real’ thing with love and an open heart. Share what you’re feeling, because chances are that they’re feeling it too. Common ground will shrink the distance between you. You might not be depressed, but chances are you’ll be feeling a lot of the things they’re feeling – sadness, confusion, frustration, helplessness, and the greatest wish that you knew how to make it better. ‘I wish that you weren’t in so much pain and I wish I knew how to soften things for you, but I don’t know how to do that. What I will do is be here for you for as long as it takes.’

  12. Ask them what you do that doesn’t help. And listen.

    Depression can be different for everyone. You can’t be expected to know how to respond. Ask what they need from you and whether there’s something they need you to do differently. Be open to the response and don’t take it personally.

  13. Don’t ask them what they’re depressed about.

    When people are sad they generally have an idea of why. Depression doesn’t always work like that. Sometimes people will be aware of what has triggered their depression, but sometimes it won’t be obvious. On paper, people with depression can look as though they have everything to be happy about – they can even believe that themselves – but depression doesn’t play by any rules.

  1. Try to initiate the things they used to love, that depression has stolen.

    At a time when people need connection the most, depression forces distance. Do everything you can not to let it. Connection and positive feelings strengthen the brain against depression, and exercise can cause the same changes in the brain as antidepressants. The problem is that the very nature of depression will hold people back from doing any of these. Don’t wait for them to feel like doing things. They won’t. Their depression won’t let them. Depression is there to nurture withdrawal, remember. It does this by stealing motivation, and creating exhaustion. Be tender, gentle and loving and reintroduce them to life, connection, and positive feelings. You’re likely to get resistance, and a lot of it. Know that this isn’t personal and do what you can do anyway.

  2. Another reason to initiate.

    Thoughts, feelings and behaviours are intimately connected. They tend to follow each other, so someone with depression will think depressed thoughts (‘Nothing makes a difference’; ‘I’m useless’), feel depressed feelings (pain, hopelessness, exhaustion) and this will drive depressed behaviour (withdrawal and a depressed mood). A change in one will eventually lead to the other but the change is unlikely come from the person with depression. Out of the three, thoughts and feelings are the toughest to change. They’re tenacious. This is why things like, ‘get over it’ or ‘it’s not that bad’ or ‘just try to be a bit positive, hey?’ won’t work. The best way is through their behavior, but you’ll have to be stronger than their depression. Initiate walks, dinners, holidays – anything that has the potential to create positive feelings. Take their hand and lead them there gently.

  3. They are not broken.

    There is nothing abnormal about the symptoms of depression. They’re a very normal part of human experience, but with an intensity that’s relentless. We’ve all felt sad, disconnected, the need to withdraw, hopeless, helpless, exhausted, and as though the fun has faded for a while These are all common experiences, even if only fleetingly at times and from the kinder end of the spectrum. What makes these very human experiences lead to a diagnosis of depression is a question of degree. People with depression experience the same we all experience, but at a different intensity, duration, or cluster of symptoms. 

Depression rarely takes hold of just one person. When depression settles into someone, helplessness, fear and sadness bleed through the walls it builds around that person and into the lives of those who love them. It’s exhausting for everyone. There is always a way through depression but it takes an almighty fight. You won’t always have it in you to fight alongside them and you won’t always know what to do but that’s okay – you don’t have to do any of that to fight for them. Few things are as powerful as human connection and anything you can do to nurture that will help to put back what depression strips away.

288 Comments

k

So this will probably be the last update for awhile. It’s been 6 months and 4 since he moved. I went up to visit my brother and bf lives an hour from him. I knew it would be a combined trip. I thought maybe seeing him in person would give me more insight. He didn’t want to see me. Didn’t even want to talk about it. Angry texts and a threat to really not talk to me. Which he barely does as it is. I told him i would see him before i left and maybe he was surprised i followed through. He didn’t yell or be mean in person, just sat in the car and talked for an hour. It was hard for him to look at me. He asked when i was leaving and i said i could stay another day if he wanted to see me again. Lunch after work the next day, he’ll me know. Neither of us communicated until i was back in the area close to when he got off work. He said he was busy and wouldn’t have time sorry. Didn’t matter if i would wait and states he didn’t realize i had stayed. Couple more angry texts and no meet. I guess it was just too hard for him. At this point i know there’s nothing else i can do right now. I can only hope he comes out of this remembering how he felt. He knows he’s progressing financially with his life but he doesn’t seem to be any more happy. Seems to still be looking for his purpose. One day he’ll realize there’s more to life than money and his true purpose includes love. But until he believes he can have both there’s nothing to do.

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lsa

thank you for a very helpful article
my partner of 12 yrs is having a hard time at the moment
he has a phobia of blood and saw an accident and had to help but got covered in blood now he is pushing me away so much so that he has told me to move out
he feels trapped not happy and that everybody looks at him and thinks everything is ok and family borrowing money didn’t help
he has been working away on a job for the last six months and I have been here looking after the business and his child (had a lot of trouble with ex as well)
doesn’t want to go on holiday we have booked as can’t be bothered
told me to take someone else
I don’t know what to do part of me wants to run I have a house but no job as I work for our business
the other part wants to stay here and support him, up until 6 weeks ago every week he would ask me not to leave him as he would be lot without him telling me he loves me everyday
and this week he said that we have nothing in common and he feels like I’m a debt he has to pay (we have renovated his house) and asking me to look after his son is asking too much
im at a loss at what to do !!!
he won’t go and seek help as he doesn’t think he is depressed just exhausted when I suggest he gets angry
told him to go to doctors and get blood tests as he admitted its part of the problem but he said he can’t face it
any word of wisdom ?

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k

Isa
Sounds like he thinks he’s a burden (which is classic in depression). The only thing you can do is tell him you love him and support him. If he went through a traumatic experience talking to someone could def help but he has to be willing to. Depression pushes people away. It’s easy to get sucked into the whirlpool once you have a toe in. It sucks. You could also try talking to someone as well. Could also check out the book ‘Mindful way through depression’ i believe is called. Wish you the best of luck. It will be a tough road just do what you can for as long as you can and reread the above article as much as you need to. It helped me when i was getting frustrated at times. Just remember its ultimately up to him to choose his path no matter how much you guide him. From what I’ve seen it always get worse before better and even then it could take awhile. They need support the most in these times but it’s hard for them to accept it. Don’t forget to take care of yourself too please.

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Angelika

I broke up with my boyfriend while depressed because of constant fighting and negative comments. He was working a lot and had made comments that he didn’t need me. Breaking up with him cause my mild- moderate depression to turn into deep depression. Horrible crying fits, total feelings of hopelessness and dark thoughts. After 19 days apart, I blocked him from everything and had rare communications with him over these days, he now will not forgive me for breaking it off with him. We are talking and spending time with one another but it’s hard. He will not commit and isn’t close to how he was before all the fighting. He doesn’t want to hear anything about how I’m feeling and says he has his own stuff to worry about- he can’t help me . I don’t know what to do. I feel so lost and broken. I want to feel like I had unconditional love but it’s not there….

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k

Angelika
You are not broken, just hurting. You both are. It sounds like you two do care for one another but maybe take this time to talk to someone so you can start helping yourself feel better. You have to care about yourself first and the stronger you get the clearer everything else will become. He will stick around or he won’t but i can tell you from experience it will get better. It always does. It will take time and one day at a time but it will get better. Please believe this. Therapy has helped me so much and its worth getting yourself better to become happier again.

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lb

To All, not sure if this has already been mentioned – but another great resource I have found is the Depression Fallout book by Anne Sheffield and accompanying message board. Really awesome community of people who are going through the same thing with a depressed loved one.

-lb

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Jane

My boyfriend has been diagnosed with depression and has taken a step away from me to “sort himself out ”
He has left a relationship which he was very unhappy in to be with me, he has set up his own home and has shared access to his son.
I have my own home and my daughter to look after so we don’t spend a lot of time together as it is, but he has stopped overnight stays at my house and I have taken his depression very personally because the only thing he has taken a step away from is me nothing or nobody else and it hurts, all I get from him is he can’t explain it and it’s all in his head and that he doesn’t stay because he doesn’t want to wake me up when he’s being restless, I’ve assured him a lot! That I don’t care about that but then he says to me ” stop pushing ”
I’ve decided now to stop making plans to see him because I’m just getting so disheartened with trying and just hearing no all the time, I want to see if he’ll ask to see me, he txts to say he loves me though, I miss what we had so much and I feel so lonely without him, if we didn’t work together I wouldn’t see him at all and I can’t help think if we didn’t work together, would we still be together tbh.
I love him so much but I feel so rejected by him and angry

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Sara

Jane, I dont know if this reply is too late, but as someone who has been the depressed one in a relationship and who was with someone who is depressed, I truly believe he only pushes you away BECAUSE he cares about you. When you’re depressed you see yourself as a burdon to the ones you live more than anyone else. And as much as you want those people to support you, in the depressed person’s mind you also are convinced that the ones you love the most would be better off if they did not have to deal with you.

I know its extremely hard to see it this way but if he didn’t live you he wouldn’t be pushing you away. It’s hardest to see the ones you love the most be let down by your behavior.

That being said you also need to take care of yourself or you’re not going to be able to be there for him. Take a step back when it hurts the most. But know that the reason he pushes you so hard is because in his own way he’s probably trying to protect you from his depression.

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SR

My boyfriend of 1 year has been having bouts of depression over the last 6 months. It happens almost every 2 months and lasts for usually 3 weeks. Another bout started yesterday and this time it seems to be particularly bad. Idk how to deal with it because his trigger this time seems so trivial that it’s becoming very hard for me to be empathetic especially because yesterday he was the meanest to me he’s ever been. The trigger was that his friend got a new phone and he’s been wanting one for the last couple of month or so but saving up money has been hard. He’s completely pushed me away to the point that for the first time in a year we didn’t interact in our class (we’re uni students). We’re in a place where access to mental health care isn’t really ideal so i don’t know what to do. I feel so helpless. I myself battle with anxiety and his episodes and behaviour flare up my over worrying tendencies too. Please help.

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Maria

My, name is Maria, I’m having a hard time with my boyfriend friend, he safer of depression, I been trying to helping him for 3 years, I feel hopless nothing that I say or do is good enough for him, I been reading a lot about of depression and it is helping me to understand a bit more. I feel that I’m not good enough for him and I blame my self a lot. I love to hear some advice. Sorry about my English I’m from Portugal

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Tee

My gf is struggling from high functioning depression and she has been dealing with it before I came along. I noticed the repetitive behavior every 2 weeks she would get mad at me and start a fight. So after me breaking down and crying she realized that she was hurting me and decided to get help. But over the last couple of weeks I’ve noticed a change in her energy and vibe. I decided to speak in it and the whole conversation went left. I even told her that if she keeps hurting me by shutting down I will have to leave her, no I don’t want to leave her I just wanted her to understand where I was coming from. It really hurts me to see her this way because in the beginning things were so good and all of a sudden her depression has completely took control. After her seeing the therapist she seem to be ok but now I don’t know what to do or how to feel. Please help

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mayte

Hello Tee, i know what you are feeling, i do not know what to say. it hurts so much and you compare how things were in the beginning…
could you update you status?

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Lane

A person in my girlfriends university class committed suicide at the 4 month mark in our relationship. She said she did not know him and I believe her. It’s taking a very hard toll on her because she has had previous bouts with severe depression before including attempted suicides. Following that she was out in a home with others until she was mentally healthy again (years before we started dating). She became very distant and her personality changed the moment she told me it happened. Slowly she started pushing me further away. Her text replies went from all the cute things girlfriends say to basically “haha” and basic texts of being clearly annoyed or unhappy. I was still getting I love yous from her every night until she eventually saw a psychiatrist who told her we should take a break and I should give her space. She was putting in effort in our long distance relationship very hard while this was happening but she finally collapsed. I’ve given her 7 days of space then contacted her to let her know I love her and I’m still here for her. Gave her another 3 days and we chatted a bit, told Me she MISSES me and my family, but she said she is still really not doing okay. Now when I say goodnight to her and I love you she replies with “ I really appreciate you” or “thank you I appreciate you you’re so amazing.” We’ve known each other for 10 years and have secretly been in love with each other all of those 10 years without knowing how the other person felt. When we started dating it was incredible. Hitting it off with friends on both sides, family loves her, friends are happy that we are together, she would always come over when she wasn’t busy studying or with her kid. Now that we are in a break it’s been taking an immense toll on me because I also have severe depression with suicide attempts so I know what she’s going through. The long distance part of our relationship doesn’t bother her like most girls. She’s very strong and will not attempt suicide again because of her child. I’m having suicidal thoughts again but won’t act on them because I love her and want to be there for her. We both also want the relationship to continue once she’s mentally healthy again but she doesn’t know how long it will take. I assure her that I’m here no matter what for her and always will be. I’m worried because I’m going overseas for work for 3.5 months over Christmas, New Years and Valentine’s Day and winter be able to see her at all. I need your guys help. She has been going out to bars a little bit With her best friend just to get out of the house but she said she doesn’t think it’s helping and she’s still really not okay.
1) should I give her more space? She said she’s okay with me contacting her every few days to check in on her
2) any ideas on how I could see her before I leave without out putting her through a set back with the progress we’re slowly making
3) is it normal that she’s going out lots but still very depressed once she gets home? ( her home life in not good either)
4) any ideas on how to keep myself sane while helping her through this?
5) I believe her depression is mainly doing all of the talking for her because she is not the same girl at all anymore. I believe she still loves me but I’m worried because she always responds to my I love yous, with a follow up I love you. I have only gotten the “I really appreciate yous” as previously stated.
6) do you think it is also her depression talking/making her act like this?
Anything helps I really appreciate whoever answers and takes the time to provide info. I’m not really thinking clearly and would like a second opinion from you guys. Thanks

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Chris M.

I think what struck me the most with this article is that its not just all about the one who is depressed, It also includes the other side of that relationship. All the other articles i have read are always about them (the depressed ones) and how we need to be around them and what we should do etc. So thankyou for that, its what I personally needed to hear in my current time of crisis with my depressed and anxious girlfriend so thankyou.

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Kate

My boyfriend of 7 months has recently been stepping back from the world. He lives in the UK and I live in the US. We met on a mutual interest server and we clicked almost immediately. But in the last week, he hasn’t been very communicative; text responses are one word answers or nothing at all. I know he struggles with depression and I’m supportive of him as best I can be from so far away. But he cut me off and didn’t tell me what was going on. When I finally managed to get a phone call to him, I was so relieved and upset at the same time, I broke down into tears. I told him that he meant a lot to me and that I was willing to give him the time he needed, but I didn’t like that he just cut off everything from me. He promised he wouldn’t do it again, and I hope he’ll be able to at least keep me aware from now on, just so I know what’s going on. In hindsight, I didn’t like that I was a weeping mess, I’m sure that didn’t help his mood at all, but I’m glad that he still likes me and isn’t going to leave me at all. I’ll just be patient and wait until he comes back. I’m glad I was able to use some of the tips I’ve read here. Thank you.

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mayte

hello kate, we are in the same boat, my boyfriends is from Canada and he lives there, and i am from Peru, we have long distance relationship, we are dating for more than a year, he shout me out now, and i dont know anything about him. i would like to talk with you, now that we are facing the same thing, maybe we could suppport each other, and we want to help our partners..

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anon

since lockdown, me and my boyfriend who has depression have been unfairly split apart. I felt like a constant burden to him and repeatedly asked him if he was sure he still liked this or that about me. He said he wanted to break it off yet gave me another chance. Suddenly, in a matter of a day his whole attitude and demeanour towards changed drastically. He has become super withdrawn and doesnt even want to talk to me on his days off. I read that it might be due to social withdrawal which is easy to understand as firstly we can’t see each other and secondly we can’t see anyone else or do anything that we would be doing if times were normal. I have reassured him that I am here for him no matter what and that I will love him no matter what as well as that I am willing to give him space. however, I don’t like feeling like im being ignored and shut out of his life, he doesnt want to talk to me anymore. and it cannot be because he has fallen out of love as I saw him on the same day he wanted to break up with me, yet when we were in person everything was normal.. I need help, how do I help him, how do I make him understand that withdrawing is not the right choice?

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Bun

Have a relationship with someone with depression is like having a relationship with someone with dementia.

He’s here, but not here.
He’s withdrawn and not present.

Even just some silly talk could easily trigger to become a huge fight.
There’s no more you in the relationship, everything is about him.
Have to play along with his rules, or else you are playing games.

I love him, but also exhausted to be alone in the relationship.
I’m afraid I’ll end up to be depressed and he doesn’t care at all.

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lavienne

My boyfriend is suffering from depression for almost 10 years now, I think. We’ve been together for more than a year. He is now unemployed because he doesn’t have the motivation to work and he cut off his communication with his long-time friends. And now, he feels like a complete mess and sometimes want to break up with me because he thinks that I deserve someone better (although I never reprimanded him or what for his situation and I always assure him that I will be here for him no matter what). He also said that if ever we’ll have a child, he doesn’t want to get married with me because he knows that he can not be a good husband to me and a good father to our child. I feel sad to see him like this and I don’t know what to do. This article really helps a lot and I am hoping that I could somehow manage to motivate him to retreat back to his normal self.

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During adolescence, our teens are more likely to pay attention to the positives of a situation over the negatives. This can be a great thing. The courage that comes from this will help them try new things, explore their independence, and learn the things they need to learn to be happy, healthy adults. But it can also land them in bucketloads of trouble. 

Here’s the thing. Our teens don’t want to do the wrong thing and they don’t want to go behind our backs, but they also don’t want to be controlled by us, or have any sense that we might be stifling their way towards independence. The cold truth of it all is that if they want something badly enough, and if they feel as though we are intruding or that we are making arbitrary decisions just because we can, or that we don’t get how important something is to them, they have the will, the smarts and the means to do it with or without or approval. 

So what do we do? Of course we don’t want to say ‘yes’ to everything, so our job becomes one of influence over control. To keep them as safe as we can, rather than saying ‘no’ (which they might ignore anyway) we want to engage their prefrontal cortex (thinking brain) so they can be more considered in their decision making. 

Our teens are very capable of making good decisions, but because the rational, logical, thinking prefrontal cortex won’t be fully online until their 20s (closer to 30 in boys), we need to wake it up and bring it to the decision party whenever we can. 

Do this by first softening the landing:
‘I can see how important this is for you. You really want to be with your friends. I absolutely get that.’
Then, gently bring that thinking brain to the table:
‘It sounds as though there’s so much to love in this for you. I don’t want to get in your way but I need to know you’ve thought about the risks and planned for them. What are some things that could go wrong?’
Then, we really make the prefrontal cortex kick up a gear by engaging its problem solving capacities:
‘What’s the plan if that happens.’
Remember, during adolescence we switch from managers to consultants. Assume a leadership presence, but in a way that is warm, loving, and collaborative.♥️
Big feelings and big behaviour are a call for us to come closer. They won’t always feel like that, but they are. Not ‘closer’ in an intrusive ‘I need you to stop this’ way, but closer in a ‘I’ve got you, I can handle all of you’ kind of way - no judgement, no need for you to be different - I’m just going to make space for this feeling to find its way through. 

Our kids and teens are no different to us. When we have feelings that fill us to overloaded, the last thing we need is someone telling us that it’s not the way to behave, or to calm down, or that we’re unbearable when we’re like this. Nup. What we need, and what they need, is a safe place to find our out breath, to let the energy connected to that feeling move through us and out of us so we can rest. 
.
But how? First, don’t take big feelings personally. They aren’t a reflection on you, your parenting, or your child. Big feelings have wisdom contained in them about what’s needed more, or less, or what feels intolerable right now. Sometimes it might be as basic as a sleep or food. Maybe more power, influence, independence, or connection with you. Maybe there’s too much stress and it’s hitting their ceiling and ricocheting off their edges. Like all wisdom, it doesn’t always find a gentle way through. That’s okay, that will come. Our kids can’t learn to manage big feelings, or respect the wisdom embodied in those big feelings if they don’t have experience with big feelings. 
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We also need to make sure we are responding to them in the moment, not a fear or an inherited ‘should’ of our own. These are the messages we swallowed whole at some point - ‘happy kids should never get sad or angry’, ‘kids should always behave,’ ‘I should be able to protect my kids from feeling bad,’ ‘big feelings are bad feelings’, ‘bad behaviour means bad kids, which means bad parents.’ All these shoulds are feisty show ponies that assume more ‘rightness’ than they deserve. They are usually historic, and when we really examine them, they’re also irrelevant.
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Finally, try not to let the symptoms of big feelings disrupt the connection. Then, when calm comes, we will have the influence we need for the conversations that matter.
"Be patient. We don’t know what we want to do or who we want to be. That feels really bad sometimes. Just keep reminding us that it’s okay that we don’t have it all figured out yet, and maybe remind yourself sometimes too."
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 #parentingteens #neurodevelopment #positiveparenting #parenting #neuronurtured #braindevelopment #adolescence  #neurodevelopment #parentingteens
Would you be more likely to take advice from someone who listened to you first, or someone who insisted they knew best and worked hard to convince you? Our teens are just like us. If we want them to consider our advice and be open to our influence, making sure they feel heard is so important. Being right doesn't count for much at all if we aren't being heard.
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Hear what they think, what they want, why they think they're right, and why it’s important to them. Sometimes we'll want to change our mind, and sometimes we'll want to stand firm. When they feel fully heard, it’s more likely that they’ll be able to trust that our decisions or advice are given fully informed and with all of their needs considered. And we all need that.
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 #positiveparenting #parenting #parenthood #neuronurtured #childdevelopment #adolescence 
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"We’re pretty sure that when you say no to something it’s because you don’t understand why it’s so important to us. Of course you’ll need to say 'no' sometimes, and if you do, let us know that you understand the importance of whatever it is we’re asking for. It will make your ‘no’ much easier to accept. We need to know that you get it. Listen to what we have to say and ask questions to understand, not to prove us wrong. We’re not trying to control you or manipulate you. Some things might not seem important to you but if we’re asking, they’re really important to us.❤️" 
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#neurodevelopment #neuronurtured #childdevelopment #parenting #positiveparenting #mindfulparenting

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