LET’S TALK ABOUT RAISING KIDS AND MENTAL HEALTH

So far, I don’t sweat the small stuff in parenthood. The big picture is my main focus. I constantly think, who will these boys turn into one day? How will they conduct themselves? How will they treat strangers and will they be kind? Will they be happy? How will they handle their failures? As a parent, the worrying never stops. I’ll worry about them till the day I’m long gone… and hopefully at that point in my life, I can find peace knowing I did something right.

Clay and I had such a good conversation the other week about how we’re going to raise our boys…and how important it is to be open, honest and communicate. If I’m being completely transparent… I think my largest fear is fucking my kids up. Don’t we all fear that? Even just a little? I fear making big mistakes as a parent along the way that might change them for the worse. For me, mental health is one of the most important subjects to bring attention to. Clay and I both have lost far too many friends and loved ones to suicide to not make it a common conversation in our house.

Something I learned years ago is that we all have demons. Some worse than others, but we all have them I promise you that. I think a good majority of us lack knowing (at some point in our lives) that no ones life is perfect. When I was a teenager, I was totally guilty of believing “so and so” had the perfect life. We don’t see every detail of people’s lives. We don’t know what’s going on underneath the surface. It wasn’t until I was 18 when my parents split up and I lost my high school boy friend to suicide… that my mind really opened up to see the darkness in this world. At the time, I was also failing my freshman year of college and got a DUI that absolutely wrecked my world. I was drowning and really didn’t know how to deal with all of those failures and emotions I was feeling in that moment. Those couple years really fucked me up mentally. I was blind to the hard things in life before I went through this mess. Life was good before. My family was together. No one close to me died. After those couple of years, I never looked at life the same again. It was challenging adjusting to this “new life” that brought about feelings of depression and anxiety. I was never told things would get hard or that there would be hiccups in my life. I guess I’m trying to say that I never was prepared to face darkness… which isn’t a bad thing, I guess? I’m not sure how you can fully prepare someone for life’s curve balls… but talking about it is at least a start, right?

I had a pretty great childhood up until a certain point in high school when things got hard at home. My parents loved my brother and I more than anything. They gave us the world and they also loved each other for most of my life. I got to grow up seeing love at first hand and feeling that love in return. Although, looking back I always find myself wondering what I would do differently if I were my parents. I think a lot of us say.. “I won’t make the same mistakes my parents did”. It’s not to throw shade at my parents… my parents are wonderful. I think I look at their marriage and the way they raised me as a life lesson. I take all of that as an opportunity to improve in how I raise my own children and how I move forward in my marriage. There are many things I loved about my childhood and plan to take into my own life as a parent. Yet, there are some things I would do completely differently… and I don’t think there is anything wrong in saying that. Parents aren’t perfect. They are not superheroes. They are human and they make mistakes. I look to my parents for advice and I also look to them for lessons. At the end of the day, we can all improve.

I want my boys to live a happy life. To see a healthy marriage. To see commitment and communication. To know it’s ok to cry. To vocalize their feelings. I also want them to know that life isn’t a steady ride. There are happy times and there are sad times. The tough times will be hard but they will also get through them. I want mental health to be a conversation that we have often. I want my boys to know that depression and anxiety are something many of us deal with. I also want them to know it’s not embarrassing to ask for help. Communication is everything to me. I never had these conversations growing up. Depression wasn’t a spoken word in our house. Truthfully, I had no idea what depression or anxiety was until I grieved someone due to suicide. Even though not knowing what it was, I definitely had periods of deep sadness, depression and anxiety in my life prior. I just didn’t know how to recognize it or deal with it properly. I still struggle with anxiety but I now know what it is and how to understand it better. Back in the 90’s/early 2000’s… mental health wasn’t as talked about as it was today. I want to change that. I want to be a mother that communicates. A mother that can talk to my kids like a friend. Although it’s so important to be a parent first and foremost.. I also want to be their confidant and their shoulder to lean on. I think if we all keep an open conversation about these tough subjects, then we can teach our kids that communicating about our emotions does not make us “weak”. I want to support my kids in their journey with happiness, whatever that may look like. I want to continue to be a safe space for them as they navigate through life’s curve balls.

This world is insensitive at times but I know every day we are pushing towards a more understanding human kind. I hope it’s our generation that changes the way we view mental health. I hope we can be the voice to teach kindness and spread more love than hate. It’s scary out there. It really is. But I have faith in our generation and in our children’s generation that we can do better. I will do better for my kids.

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