Why Parents Should Be Open About Depression

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I recall attending the 2019 Children Convention with my husband and our three kids, aged 5, 8, and 11 years old. It was memorable because I only realized that the primary topic was childhood depression when we were already sitting. At the time, I could not decide if we should stay or haul the entire family back home. It felt like the topic was not too suitable for kids, but my spouse coaxed me into staying, so we did.

You must admit that talking about depression is scary in front of kids who still believe in Santa and tooth fairy. Parents like me can never be blamed for wanting to shield the young ones from such dark topics. Still, I am genuinely glad that my children are already aware that depression exists because:

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It Makes Kids Knowledgeable About The Adverse Effects Of Mental Disorder
Knowledge has always been associated with power, and I agree with that notion. When a child knows that there is a mental disorder called depression, it allows them to realize that it is not to be taken lightly. Otherwise, the depressive episodes may aggravate and push a person to self-harm.

You may ask, “Can’t I save the depression talk for when my kid turns 18?” Well, you most certainly can—that’s up to you. But I won’t recommend it because self-harmers are getting younger than ever. You don’t want your kids to hear about it from their classmates and think that it’s cool to do.

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It Helps Kids Empathize With Depressed Friends
My children grew up playing with our neighbor’s only daughter Jenny (not her real name). My husband and I did not notice a behavioral change in Jenny whenever she would come to the house. She always spoke politely and participated in our family games. So, I felt so shocked when my eldest daughter came home from school and said, “Mom, my teacher caught Jenny self-cutting in the bathroom today.”

Of course, my initial reaction was to advise my child to stop hanging out with Jenny. I couldn’t help it; it was my protective instinct kicking in. However, my level-headed kid told me that Jenny might need a friend now more than ever. The fact that my daughter remembered that from the convention made me want to weep in happiness, considering it helped bring out my child’s empathy.

Final Thoughts
The need to protect my children from any potential danger may forever remain in me. Despite that, going to the said convention with them has shown me that it is healthy to enlighten kids about a mental disorder like depression at times. That’s the only way to keep them from experiencing it unconsciously in the future.

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