Have you ever known someone who despite the overwhelming odds against them, has overcome incredible trauma to lead a healthy, happy life? Every once in a while I meet someone like this and I am always in awe. So what's the best recipe for helping your child be resilient in the midst of whatever they face? Research says, it's you!
It’s incredible how a little bit of knowledge and insight can be the difference between hopelessness and real hope. That's what family therapist, Matt Leavenworth is here to provide for us today. He takes a problem that seems insurmountable and breaks it down in a way that parents can tackle. He tells the truth about some of the leading causes of suicide and what parents can do to address it. It's a tough subject, but there's so much hope!
This is a subject I have wanted to tackle since the creation of Raising Today’s Kids. But the timing hasn’t felt right until now. My guest is Matt Leavenworth, a licensed marriage and family therapist who has had one too many experiences dealing with the aftermath of suicide. He reached out because he wanted this message to spread to more than just the individuals he works with in his practice.
I had a lot of questions and concerns going into this topic. I have my own experiences with suicide hitting close to home - a friend from high school, a coworker, and my uncle have all taken their lives. Others I love have attempted or idealized suicide. I even have my own experiences with self-harm and feeling like life wasn’t worth living. That is a hard place to be and so I know how sensitive of a topic it is. But I also know how important it is to address them with our kids.
At the same time I am very sensitive about discussing self-harm, because I have seen how ideas like that can spread like a disease. So Matt talks about the right and wrong way to have these conversations with our kids. And off the air, Matt reminded me that kids are seeing worse things than we can imagine on social media. We just can’t let snapchat or youtube be the ones to talk to our kids about these things.
This is a difficult topic - but as always, I believe in hope. A big part of hope in the face of suicide are all the tools Matt gives us for preventing and understanding it.
Matt is an inspiration because he is using his difficult personal experiences to propel him forward and protect others from the pain and suffering he knows is out there.
So here we go, let’s listen in to my conversation with Matt Leavenworth.
my conversation with Matt
I just think it’s incredible, how a little bit of knowledge and insight can be the difference between hope and hopelessness. Matt - Thank you so much for taking a problem that seems so insurmountable and breaking it down in a way that parents can tackle.
So I made a list of things I want to do based on what Matt taught us. I will list it here, and will also post it in the shownotes on raisingtodayskids.com
1 - allow my kids to be exposed to risk so they can develop resilience
2 - delay my kids’ exposure to social media until they have developed emotional resilience since that is so directly correlated with anxiety and depression (also limit screen time for the same reasons)
3 - teach my kids to disprove depression’s two lies - this is never going to end, and you’re all alone
4 - continually ask myself, what’s the longterm lesson I’m teaching my child?
5 - preserve dinner time
6 - regularly and intentionally create connection with my children
7 - have tough conversations, keep the door of communication open
8 - let them know I love them!!
Do the five activities linked with well-being:
9 - religious activity
10 - athletics
11 - face to face interaction
12 - reading
13 - homework
14 - read The Coddling of the American Mind - Johnathan Haidt
15 - watch Not Alone documentary
Thank you for showing up for this episode today. If you thought of someone while listening, consider sharing it with that person. It might be just what they need to hear.
Also, please go to your favorite podcast app and write a review. There are more parents out there who need to hear what Matt shared with us today. Your review will help it reach them.
I hope you know what an amazing parent you are. It might not feel like it, you might feel completely ordinary, or even less than ordinary, but I assure you that you are a gift to your children. You are exactly who they need cheering them on, helping them develop resilience, and being a base of security. Keep trying, and then trying again. You are doing better than you think.
Thanks for listening, and have an awesome day.