Sometimes (usually during the workday - shhh!) I check out certain websites/blogs as a little mental getaway. I used to like FML
, but after a while it became a little too negative for me. Then I learned about Gives Me Hope
and Makes Me Think
. (Thanks, Meg
!) GMH is a bit too cloying sometimes, so lately I favor MMT. Even if not all the submissions do make me think, they're generally interesting to read. But I was just noticing that there are a few major recurring themes across these submissions. One is self-harming. Another is suicide. A third is parents rejecting their kid because the kid is gay, or otherwise "different." (It seems like most of these are written by the kid -- the kid who self-mutilates, or considered suicide, or came out to his/her parents.)
And as a future parent, these really upset me. When I was a kid I was barely aware of any of this stuff. Even as a teenager, I don't think I knew there was such a thing as "cutting". I knew there was suicide in the world, but I didn't know anyone personally who had attempted it, committed it, or been affected by a loved one doing so. I vaguely knew about homophobia but it wasn't part of my life. I knew some gay people when I was in high school, and lots more once I got to college and beyond, but it wasn't a big deal to me and from what I could tell, it wasn't a big deal to my parents either.
I'm not worried about being that parent who turns her kids out on the street for being who they are (as long as who they are isn't an animal abuser -- that's another story), nor even worried about making it clear to them that I don't care if they're gay or want to wear their hair in blue spikes (at a reasonable age) or whatever. I hope that I can do as good a job of raising them to be open-minded as my parents did raising me. I want them to be as puzzled and as horrified as I am that there are people in the world who actually disown their loved ones for such things.
But I am
a bit worried about all this self-harming and depression/suicide stuff. From things I've read and seen (granted, mostly fiction), it seems like sometimes even if the kid is raised in a loving home, something just leads him/her to these self-destructive thoughts and behaviors, and sometimes the parents are last to know. Why are so many kids so depressed, and why was I so completely unaware of it when I was their age? If I could at least relate to it, it would give me as basis for dealing with it from the parental side (if, heaven forbid, I need to one day), but I'm at a total loss. I would never have said I was "sheltered" growing up -- I mean, I grew up in New York City, took the subway to high school every day with a diverse group of kids (albeit all nerds), had an after-school job, even experimented with a little underage drinking and smoking, all the usual stuff -- so was all this going on around me and I was clueless, or is it that it's a lot more prevalent these days? And do sites like MMT make this sort of thing seem more common than it really is, because these troubled kids gravitate toward them?
I don't want to be a helicopter parent, but I want to be involved enough to at least maybe have a chance of being clued in to whether my kid is about to slit her wrists.
I can't believe I am already worrying about this stuff when she won't even be born
for another couple of months. Welcome to parenthood, I guess.