The Parental Role in Treatment
Your role in your child's inpatient treatment is simple and complex. As usual, it's more hard work! But you
Discussing Treatment with Your Child
First, be as honest as you can about why you have made the decision for him to have this kind of treatment. You have a better chance at convincing him this is a good choice if you present it with a team approach. He is the major member, but there are other members too. This includes his treatment team and you. You'll have to do your best to alleviate the stigma of mental illness and inpatient treatment. Kids don't like to be different, and inpatient treatment is certainly different!
Do not argue with your child about treatment. You are the parent here, and ultimately this decision is yours. You want to be compassionate, but you will also need to be firm. Simply tell him you love him, and that your hope is to make him feel better as fast as possible so that he can return to his life.
If possible, keep your child's treatment arrangements low key. Be discrete about whom you tell and include your child's input on this. When he complains that it's going to feel like prison, understand that he's probably right. He is going to be watched, monitored, and intensively treated. He will have little freedom and this will be exasperating at first.
Second, find out the expectations the facility has for your involvement. You'll probably have a case manager assigned to your child. This person will be the one you call with your questions and concerns. You don't want to be too intrusive, but you also want to be available for family sessions and consults with the treatment team. Get a schedule of events to which you are supposed to attend. Unless you have a significant complaint, try not to criticize the treatment team. As a parent, you will naturally feel that some of what is happening to your child is too quick, too hard, and too much for your child. The treatment team understands that your child is your baby, but they are not going to do any special favors for him. He will be treated just like everyone else, and they really do know what they are doing!
Sharing the Responsibility
Third, be prepared to accept your share of the responsibility for your child's problems. Do not misinterpret this as being asked to take the blame. You read earlier that there are plenty of risk factors, causes, and predictors of depression. You are not perfect — you are a parent! Just as you have the ability to be a positive force in your child's life, you will make mistakes. Those mistakes may be influencing your child and how he sees himself. Your child needs to know that you are willing to examine your own behavior and make appropriate changes if necessary.