1. Be Prepared
Make sure you are prepared to talk with your parents. This could mean writing down what you’d like to say so you don’t forget, getting some names of therapists for your parents to check out, and being ready to answer any questions they might have.
Know your reasons for wanting to see a therapist and how you think they could help you. Your parents may want to know how long you’ve been feeling this way, or what you’ve tried already. Be patient with parents- you may have been feeling this way for days, weeks, months or even years, but this may be brand-new information for your parents. They may need some time to process and understand what you’re going through. Know that their responses, questions and concerns come from a place of love and caring.
Just because you’re ready to have this conversation doesn’t mean it’s a good time to talk with your parents. If you know your parents are stressed out when they come home from work, give them some time to get home and relax for a bit.
Starting with something like: “Hey, Do you have some time to talk about something with me?” lets them know you want their undivided attention and they can prepare. If they say it’s not a good time now, respect that and ask when a good time to follow-up may be. If you don’t schedule a time to check in it will linger forever and you’ll never get it done.
In addition to timing, the location is something you should be aware of. This is an important conversation so you don't want to be interrupted. If you have siblings, this could mean taking a walk or a car ride with your parent. Speaking with your parents in a private location allows you and your parents to express themselves more openly.
I truly believe face to face conversations have the most impact. When you text you often have to interpret the tone and intention of the message. When you speak in person not only do you have the words to help you understand the person's message, you have their facial expressions, body language, voice and tone. You also have the advantage of clarifying any misunderstandings right then and there rather than letting it fester and linger.
4. Be Yourself and Just Ask
Your parents love you and would do anything for you. Remember as parents, it’s their job to take care of you and your needs so you can grow into a healthy, successful adult. The worst that happens is they say No and you are right where are now.
If you're having trouble with the wording, some specific strategies for asking are using the Positivity Sandwich, I Feel Messages, DEARMAN or a combination of all three.
If you aren’t familiar with these techniques stay tuned because I will be writing blogs about all three strategies in the near future. Don’t want to miss these? Sign up here and you’ll get an e-mail with all the latest updates.
That’s it! If you use these tips you should be fine!
Disclaimer: I respect and understand that not all families are receptive to the idea of therapy, and honestly, therapy is not for everyone. If you are in a family whose parents do not like the idea of their child seeing a therapist, some other sources of help can be school (most schools have a school social worker, school psychologist, guidance counselor or nurse that can help), your local child guidance agency (at the time of this writing, in CT you are allowed up to 6 sessions if you are in crisis before a parent needs to consent to treatment. Check your state’s laws for more information about your rights regarding access to treatment), or a local/national crisis number such as EMPS/211 in CT, Crisis Text Line (741741 in the US), or National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255 in the US, check their website for international calling help).
About Mallory Grimste, LCSW
Mallory Grimste, LCSW is a mental health therapist in Woodbridge, CT. She loves helping tweens, teens and young adults struggling with Anxiety (... and other Big Emotions) find what works for them.
Originally a Jersey girl, she loves the beach, sunglasses and iced coffee. Her favorite coping skills are deep breathing, listening to music, and watching Scandal.
If you want to know more about Mallory, or how she can help, visit her website at http://www.mallorygrimste.com.