It is the hope of most parents to be connected to their children. Parents truly desire to mean more to their children than providing shelter, food, and clothes. In order for that to occur, it is important for parents to understand how their children develop from their early years to adulthood. In the following video, Dr. Henry Cloud interviews Dr. Meg Meeker about this very issue.
So how does the interaction between a parent and his or her child impact that child neurologically? According to Dr. Meeker, inner responses within the child occur such as the lowering of blood pressure, cortisol release (which impacts stress levels), and dopamine levels are also impacted, which regulates things such as mood, appetite, concentration and even the sex drive. In short, the connection between a parent and the child drives all the good stuff up and the bad stuff down.
Dr. Meeker goes on to say that our brains soak in fluid that is loaded with the neurotransmitters of dopamine, norfenefrine, and serotonin. These neurotransmitters are crucial to a child’s sense of well-being. Unfortunately, if a child feels detached from a parent for any reason, that child’s brain cells will begin to assimilate those chemicals, which causes things such as sleeplessness, appetite issues, and struggles with intellectual development.
A detachment from a parent may produce a sense within a child that there is something deeply wrong with them.
This can explain why many children enter their teen years and begin to cope with problems by self-medicating through escape strategies such as drugs, alcohol, and sex. Another dynamic within the parent/child detachment can be the onset of teen depression.
Meeker states that teen depression does not usually display itself as sleeping all the time or not eating but rather “comes out sideways” as being mean spirited. If parents see their teen displaying signs of depression, it is very important that they access as many avenues as they can such as prayer, counseling, medical advice, and medication to help that teen.