How can I be a kid if I’m stuck with adult responsibilities?
16-year-old Alex lost his dad, Ted, to suicide when he was 11. While grieving and dealing with his own mental health struggles, Alex felt like he had to step up and help his mom, Tricia. Today, he’s asking her: how am I supposed to be a kid when you put the weight of adult responsibilities on me?
Looking for resources? Visit ineedtoaskyousomething.org for info on how to strengthen relationships, deal with traumatic events, and get help.
Dr. Monica Band is the host of this show and consultant with the Jed Foundation. Chrystal Genesis is our supervising producer. Giulia Hjort and Rachel Lightner are our producers. Andi Kristindottir is our engineer. Tess Novotny is our associate producer. Mixing and original music by Bobby Woody. Additional music by Andi Kristinsdottir. Special thanks to Kelsey Henderson. Jackie Danziger is our VP of Narrative Content. Executive producers are Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs.
This series was created with The Jed Foundation, a non-profit that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for teens and young adults. Find ways to manage your emotional health, cope with challenges, and support the people in your life at jedfoundation.org.
This series is presented by Hopelab, a social innovation lab and impact investor supporting the mental health of adolescents, ages 10-25, especially BIPOC and LGBTQ+ youth. Learn more at hopelab.org.
This series is also presented by the Stupski Foundation, returning resources to the communities it calls home in Hawaiʻi and the San Francisco Bay Area by 2029 to support just and resilient food, health, and higher education systems for all. Learn more at stupski.org.
This series is also presented by the Lumina Foundation, an independent, private foundation committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. Learn more at luminafoundation.org.
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Tricia, Alex, Dr. Monica Band, Andy Slavitt
Dr. Monica Band 00:01
This episode includes conversations about suicidality. Remember to be kind and patient with yourself. And if you need to take a moment to pause while listening. We’ll be here when you’re ready.
Alex has always been what they call an old soul. He’s always been a little more mature for his age. He’s just a cleanse for people being the old soul that he is me going through my own healing and it’s been difficult.
The relationship I have a mother we do have a rocky moments and the rocky moments can be very, very rocky. My mom when I was young, she was tired and she was exhausted. But it was she was still there.
As his mother, I want the best for him and I want to protect him from everything bad in this room. But I can’t. And that’s a struggle in itself just wanting to protect my child when a bad thing basically threw us into the deep end.
Dr. Monica Band 02:02
That’s Alex and his mom, Tricia. Aleksa old soul is 16 now, but when he was 11, he lost his dad Ted to suicide.
After my dad died, it was I was angry. But even through that anger, I still saw a mom like she did the best she could
To see your parent in this dark place and not know what to do. For him. I think part of it was I have to take care of mom. Because there’s no one takes care mom who’s gonna take care of me.
Dr. Monica Band 02:34
Although Tricia and Alex now find support through therapy, Alex is still struggling to find his place in his family. And today, Alex has a question for his mom.
I understand you want me to be a teenager? But what do you want me to do in situations where I had those adult responsibilities.
Dr. Monica Band 02:54
This is a story about grief, and the challenges that come with caring for people we love and ourselves as we all try to heal. It’s about breaking patterns, shifting roles and taking turns being the caretaker. And for Alex, it’s also about rediscovering what it means to be a kid. This is I need to ask you something, and I am your host, Dr. Monica Band.
When I think about Montana, it’s just kind of it’s quiet. And It’s peaceful here. And growing up in such a small area. Basically everybody does know everybody.
We’re surrounded by several different mountain ranges. And so it’s just beautiful out here. And one of the reasons I my parents did a lot of fishing so we were up on the river a lot. So being out in nature as always something fun.
Dr. Monica Band 03:57
Alex lives with his mom and younger sister in a small town nestled in the Rocky Mountains of southern Montana. It’s the kind of place where you go kayaking or hiking on the weekends. A place where your neighbors will drop off a casserole when you’re working the late shift and your kids are sick with the flu. Tricia grew up here about three hours north on a military base. And as much as she loved growing up around so much natural beauty, she felt stifled as a kid.
I grew up in a family household where you had to be perfect. You had to have straight A’s. You just had to be a good kid. Otherwise you weren’t loved. And even when you did get the straight A’s or when you did do something awesome or in your mind awesome or something good. It still wasn’t good enough. Going through that and realizing that as an adult. I didn’t want that for my kids.
Dr. Monica Band 04:49
Tricia married her high school sweetheart Ted, who came from a similar household, that old school pull yourself up by your bootstraps don’t show your emotions type of upbringing and well Tricia was overly cautious of repeating this parenting style. tenten always shy away from it.
I think subconsciously that was something that we put on our children on on IELTS and his sister a lot. The competitiveness and whatnot and watching Alex in sports, like, I would sit there watching TED talk to Alex during practices are, say things to my son where I was like, Oh, that is not cool. And you’re making you feel like he’s failing you. I grew up in a family where it wasn’t okay to cry. It wasn’t okay to be sad, you weren’t allowed to be all that stuff. And I wanted my son to feel like he could.
She was supporting me in a way where I was able to be who I wanted to be. Because surely I didn’t want to do baseball. I didn’t want to do certain things. But my dad signed me up anyways.
Dr. Monica Band 05:52
According to Alex, Ted was the type of dad who sometimes showed his soft side, but still carried this firm exterior he inherited.
But I knew something shouldn’t generational. I had this conversation with, with one of my dad’s friends who has a son. And he was like, when we had our boys. We both said, like, we’re gonna treat them like, like how they’re supposed to be. And he explained it like at the dinner table family, like, I go to my wife and I say, how was your day? What did you do? And then you go to your sister and say, What did you do? How was your day? Are you feeling good? But then when it comes to the Son, it’s like, you’re right. Yep, that’s it. And I’m like, Holy shit, that’s all my dad did. The thing is, is like he did tell me, he said, I love you. That was the thing that he did say, and there was just kind of like, Alright, thanks. And that’s, that’s how it was.
Dr. Monica Band 06:43
Both Alex and Tricia knew that Ted loved them with all his heart. But he was dealing with bigger challenges that he often kept to himself. In 2017, after years of battling depression, Ted died by suicide. And in the midst of their grief, the family was left to figure out their new roles. As Tricia was struggling to keep her own mental health in check.
Being a single mom or solo parent, however you want to put it, after his father died, it was hard. I mean, I was already dealing with my own depression and my own issues, my own healing, and to basically be thrown into single parenthood was a bit of a shock for everybody. And I think, as the kids have gotten older, it’s turbulent. sometimes. Other times, you know, it’s beautiful. We’re having fun, we’re laughing. It’s great. But it’s always different every year is different. You’re having to relearn to parent. Every time. Every time something comes up, that wasn’t happening before you’re having to both grapple out how to make each other feel safe and loved.
Dr. Monica Band 07:58
And hearing safety, love wanting the best for your children. You didn’t say it this way. So I want you to correct me here. If I’m wrong, Trisha, you were using the words healing, I was going through my own things. I’m on this journey myself, we both got thrusted into this. The way you were sharing that almost felt like there wasn’t room for both. Or perhaps it doesn’t feel like it. There’s not room for me to heal while also trying to be the best. Or use the word perfect parent. Does it feel that way? Sometimes that.
A lot of the time, actually. A lot of the time. Yeah. In the beginning, and sometimes it still feels like it. I feel like I have to try to fill both roles as father and mother. It’s hard. Yeah, sometimes it does feel like there isn’t over each of us.
Dr. Monica Band 08:50
Yeah, yeah. And being together, is protective, and also keeps people safe. It can feel like stepping outside of that means I’m being selfish. I’m abandoning you know, my, my duties. If I only focus on myself for a moment. I’m going to have you pause right there. Because I do want to check in with Alex, what are your thoughts on that?
After my dad died, it was I was angry. I had never felt so angry. And so but even through that anger, I saw my mom, like she was trying and like I saw the struggle that she had. And so even with her parenting as a solo parent, I wanted her to be vulnerable to because it felt unfair that she couldn’t. And so recently and she has been more vulnerable and she’s been more open. And I think it’s because we’re growing in our own mental health wise and also is because I’m maturing and I’m starting to learn how to take care of myself and what I need. As a human being.
Dr. Monica Band 10:01
If I could add, Alex, it’s interesting to hear you say that because earlier when your mom was sharing, hey, sometimes internally, it still doesn’t feel like I can have those vulnerable moments and share that completely and let that go. Because there’s this drive to be the strong person, I have to be both parents. And I’m hearing you say, actually, Mom, I prefer to have a vulnerable connection with you. And I recognize it’s unfair that you’ve had to take this on, Tricia, how is that? To hear Alex say?
I wish he was here. So I can give him a big hug. Honestly, I don’t think either one of us would be here, where we are mentally and emotionally in terms of our healing. Without our counselors, they both give us perspective on how he’s feeling how I’m feeling. And it’s a shock. Oh, honestly, just hear that from him. Because I know, he feels like he has to be the strong one. He feels like he has to be the solid rock for his sister and I and I am proud of my son. I didn’t thank you, Alex, for saying what you did. I think I needed to hear that.
I think yeah, I think she was right. I think there’s times where I feel like I have to be the rock. But I understand. And I know that I can. I can just let go sometimes. It’s just difficult.
Dr. Monica Band 11:29
Yeah. And Alex, I think maybe this is the perfect segue into talking you through that driving question that you were hoping to ground ourselves further in this conversation? Would you mind going into that question you want to put on the table for us to talk through and to both of your points be a little more vulnerable about?
I guess the question I wanted to ask was, I understand you want me to be a child or a teenager? But what do you want me to do in situations where I have those adult responsibilities?
Dr. Monica Band 12:06
Thank you. Thank you for saying that. And I’d love to hear your reactions. Tricia, in response to that question.
One thought that comes to mind when he says that was when the kids were told about their dad. The chaplain that was there, look, Alex directly in the eye and said, You’re going to want to be the adult, you’re going to want to help your mom you want I’m going to be the man of the house. And I can guarantee you right now, she just wants you to be 10 B 10 than when you’re 11 and be 11. And it stuck with me. And it was one of those things where Yeah, I want you to be a kid still. And I’m sorry that you got thrown into this crappy situation.
It’s a nightmare. I replay a lot. That whole day is a nightmare. My father, committing suicide was probably the hardest thing for me to hear and bear and walk around with it. It hurts me. And I screamed, and I cried, and I was upset. But a part of me felt like, Did I fail my dad. That’s the thing that I that’s that I carry a lot. And so when that’s happened, told me, You’re gonna want to be the adult, but I need you to be 10 I need you to be low, and I need you to be 12. I didn’t know what to say or do because like, the reality is, is that you need to be a teenager, and you need to worry about school, and things like that. But there’s another part of me that eats up inside and it says, Did you fail your dad? And if you did, you need to make it up by being better. And being that adult and being able to bear everybody’s weight and stuff like that. That’s a responsibility that I put on myself because I feel like I fill my dad. And he filled me. That’s the reason why I take these adult responsibilities into my hands. Because I feel like I need to make up for something that I did. I don’t know what.
Dr. Monica Band 14:22
That is something that I did, but I don’t know what it really made. My heart sank. Because I can hear the tension and the conflict in side you and prescribing responsibility all in one person to your point is a weight that can feel so unfair sometimes and you were Alex, you are so honest and sharing how sometimes some of your feelings manifest is anger and anger is a reaction to unfairness. So I understand why there’s Justified Anger there as well in those moments. Can I check in with you to see how you’re feeling after sharing such a thing?
I don’t know. It’s just kind of like I’m not sad or angry or like happy. It’s just kind of like, I’m here. Yes, I’m okay with that for now.
Dr. Monica Band 15:18
At 11 years old, Alex was having to grieve his dad while also feeling like he had to fill in for him. While trying to pull off that impossible balancing act, he became a therapist often referred to as a parental FIDE child. This means that he experienced a role reversal that was developmentally inappropriate. When other kids his age were building Lego spaceships and blanket forts. Alex, the old soul was thinking of the practicalities, like paying the next utility bill. And while it turns out, he was really good at being an adult, it wasn’t fair for Alex to take on these heavy responsibilities at such a young age. On top of all of that, Alex’s grief was complicated by the fact that neither he nor his dad were ever fully able to express their love for one another. Their feelings were restricted by harmful stereotypes of what men should talk about. But let’s also think of Tricia to be able to shoulder all of these extra responsibilities herself, she would need a level of time and resources that isn’t available to her. It’s important that Alex and Tricia can share their feelings and help each other shoulder their burdens. It’s the strength in their relationship, but it’s also a challenge because they’re willing to prioritize each other over themselves. They neglect their own emotional needs, and endured their own discomforts alone. So a fundamental question remains, how can Alex support his mom without taking on the burden of adult responsibilities? That’s after the break.
Dr. Monica Band 16:59
Hi, welcome back. Before the break, we learned how everything shifted for Alex and Tricia after Ted’s death. They were both trying to be two very different people at once. Tricia, the emotionally vulnerable parent and Tricia the responsible practical parent, Alex, the carefree child and Alex the parental fi child. It wasn’t easy for either of them to keep these roles straight. A prime example came last year when Alex was gearing up for a trip to Washington DC with his school marching band. I don’t know if you all remember school trips but for better or worse. There isn’t a lot of decision making. You stick with the group. Go where you’re told and enjoy a little break from the usual routine. And that was Alex’s plan. But it turns out, it wasn’t that easy.
So, I’m just gonna forewarn everyone, this is a touchy subject for the both of us. I’m not mad about my mom for having this happen. I got over it, it happened to just get over it. So, about a week before I was about to head over to DC, I hear crying outside and I’m like, What the hell is going on? And my mom’s freaking out because the truck is got, and I was like, Okay, so one, it’s either stolen, which that would not happen. Or two, it got repossessed. And yeah, it was repossessed, she told me. I was pissed off, and I had to, I had to buckle up. And I was like, Okay, here’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna try a, b, and c. And then I love to do SEO. In the back of my head. I was like, am I gonna get the truck back? And there was a lot of worries, too. It’s just like, now do I have to worry about having a roof over my head? Or do I have to worry about if I’m gonna have hot water next week. And so when I was in DC, and I hurt, you got the truck back. I was like, think, gosh, she did. Because this truck was something that she got on her own. It kind of symbolized her being a survivor in a way, even though it’s just a truck. So I’m not angry about it. It’s this obstacle, that was difficult for me, because I had to be an adult in the situation. I didn’t want to be, I wanted you to figure it out. And you did. And so I brought this story up not to shame on my mother for bad parent, because that’s not what that is. She’s not a bad parent. I brought it to show how she succeeded. As a parent,
Dr. Monica Band 21:50
I hear how that experiences had had an impact on you both. To your point, Alex, you know, this not about blaming or shaming someone, but rather, in these moments in these tests? How do we support each other? Tricia? Is there? Is there anything you want to add to or respond to what Alex has shared?
Last year was hard for me mentally, I was in a pretty dark place. And I was actually trying to deal with guilt, and shame and all sorts of other things. And then when this happened, it was at a time where I had experienced something that basically had me challenge myself in terms of are you taking care of yourself? What what happened to you? Are you really a failure, and walking out into the driveway finding the trick on how to reiterated my the ego part of work, note your pad parent, you can’t do anything, you are failing at keeping necessities in your family. Alex stepped up he did he, in my panic and my emotional distress, you got some help. did a few things that in the moment, I was not able to rationally think of it, the shame and the whole failure thing always comes up with me. And that’s what causes me a lot of times to be so hard on myself. And I’m so grateful and thankful that Alex said what he did about me not being a bad parent, or failing that it was a mistake. And I know that there’s no such thing as perfect. Regardless of what we see, or what we you know, what is said?
Dr. Monica Band 23:35
Yeah, and I think that’s a good thought to remember and tell ourselves, but sometimes it feels different. Sometimes our feelings can be at odds with our thoughts. And, you know, I realized the common ground here is that both of you in different ways struggle with this. I am a failure narrative. And it seems that maybe it’s something to your point, Tricia that was inherited intergenerationally to some respect. But the other part of me thinks a lot of this was exacerbated by Ted’s death in the sense that Alex, your internal narrative of I’m a failure, or I don’t want to fail, my dad resulted in the absence of him. Similarly for you, Tricia, the absence of Ted brings up the additional pressure of filling the role of two parents. Could you share with me what it has been like, in remembering Ted and remembering your partner and remembering your dad? How has that affected your mental health?
I was already struggling with depression before he passed away. I had actually started going into the counseling shortly after he had come to me saying that he was suicidal and he needed help finding help. During that time, I know he was struggling with things he’s struggling With his business, he’s struggling to try and be a dad trying to be everything he thought he had to be at the time. But despite all of that, he took care of us. He took care of us the best way he knew how he tried to make memories, he tried to ensure that the kids were happy the kids were taking care of that I was taken care of. When he was with the family, he was there with the family. And there were times where he wasn’t there to like you run a company. You can’t just leave that there, take it home with you. And I think he had a hard time balancing that. There was one time we went to a wedding in Washington. And he got a call from one of his clients, or one of the people he was working with, and I would I got mad. Like you’re you’re away from work. This is stuff that can wait, you can tell the rest of the trip. It just, it was bugging him. And we actually had to leave early. We left the wedding early. So and I loved him, and I wanted to support him best way to have it. Both of us just didn’t know how to sometimes.
Dr. Monica Band 26:07
Was your relationship with Ted the first time that you heard someone struggle with their mental health in this way?
No, it was not he was. My mother also suffered from depression or suffers from depression. So it wasn’t like the first time I see anything but to hear your spouse. Say it. It’s a different experience for sure.
Dr. Monica Band 26:29
If you’re willing, can you tell us what that experience was like for you to hear that for the first time as a spouse?
Well, one was, where did I fail? Where did I fail you? What did I do wrong? But do you hear it you go, you go protective mode, and you go, you go hypersensitive, and he was like, you can’t tell anybody. You can’t tell a kid you can’t tell it can’t tell your parents, you can just don’t tell anybody.
Dr. Monica Band 26:54
That’s a big secret to keep.
Very big secret to keep. But I did tell his mom. And I did tell one of his friends. Because looking back on it, I was secretly hoping that they could help stop whatever or help. But I don’t think they knew what to do either. It was a struggle to keep it a secret from his kids.
Dr. Monica Band 27:17
I cannot imagine what that’s like for you to have carried and to continue to carry and knowing that information. And for how long to to feel like in some respect that your partner’s life, you’re responsible for it in a way that you didn’t think you would be. Alex, can you give me an idea of what’s coming up for you?
I didn’t know my dad was suicidal. And I couldn’t tell like he had this. The expression of my father. I remember it was him depressed. It was him upset and hurting. I loved them. And he loved me. But I didn’t I didn’t really feel it. It was just kind of like, Am I doing something wrong? Am I not good enough for them? When my dad was angry at I don’t know, me being stupid, or like an honest mistake that almost any other 10 year old would make, he would get mad at it. He wasn’t mad at me. He was mad at himself for something. I think my dad was struggling with not only trying to be, you know, a parent, but also a business owner and feeling like he has to be the man in the house and taking care of everybody. And having that selflessness. And I think that’s what internally ate him so much that it inevitably killed them.
Dr. Monica Band 28:41
Maybe we don’t have to be so selfless in the same way your dad was, what do you think?
Oh, yeah. But for a long time, I wanted to be my dad. I tried being as selfless as I can. me giving back to people is what makes me feel better in the end of the day, is because I was like, I did something for another human being that helped them. There is a part of me where it’s like, I’m not selfless enough. But there’s another part of me where it’s like, dude, take that day. Do something for you, please. And mean that failing my dad is being the better version of him. I wanted to be the person where it’s like, I am selfless. And I am a person that you can say, hey, I need to talk but also yep, I need the day. Or can we do this another time where it’s just kind of like I need to take care of my needs. And I understand that it’s difficult.
I love hearing Alex talk. I really do because he says things that I wish I could say and that’s where how my son inspires me. He has learned that there are boundaries, and he is better at keeping his boundaries. And that’s something I think we’re all learning on a continuous basis is drawing on bound dri is and trying to find ourselves. And that was one thing I loved about Ted was that he was selfless. But I got to a point where I ate him up.
Dr. Monica Band 30:11
While talking to Alex and Tricia, I couldn’t help but notice all the shared threads and their stories, this nagging fear of failure and a sense of responsibility to one another. It’s hard, like extremely hard to break cycles that run this deep, especially when the stakes feel so high. So it’s really encouraging that Alex recognizes when he needs to take the day, but understanding how to prioritize his well being is still a major work in progress for Alex. More on that after the break. Welcome back. Before we get into our conversation with Tricia and Alex, I want to let you know that the next few minutes are hard to listen to. Losing his dad put a strain on Alex’s mental health. He was in pain and had all these new responsibilities. It became overwhelming. After Ted’s death, Alex attempted suicide multiple times. The reality is that children whose parents died by suicide are that much more at risk themselves. So talking about it and getting help for it is essential. Luckily, Alex is in therapy now and no longer engages in self harm or has thoughts of suicide. This was the first time that Alex had really opened up to his mom about it.
Dr Monica Band 33:20
Alex, I know sometimes some of the things that you want to say you’re afraid to scare me or hurt me. But I need you to be honest here because this is where your voice is going to be heard. I want you to, it’s okay.
By the time I was worried about my job, I was worrying about school. I wasn’t worrying about my mom, I was I was pissed off at my mom at the time. I was pissed off with myself a lot. Every step that I take, it feels like a wrong direction. Every step that I take feels like it’s a mistake. And that that feeling was the worst I’ve ever felt feeling like an absolute failure.
Me going through that was difficult. What saved me was it’s a small voice in my head, and it gets louder at the time. And that little voice is what got me through each of those attempts was because if I left I would be feeling both my mom my sister and everybody else. My father failed me because he stopped trying. And at the same time, I felt like I failed him. So yeah, I feel like the stigma of your man and you shouldn’t be hurting alone is horseshit. Because if you don’t take care of yourself and that responsibility because it is responsibility of yours of taking care of yourself. You’re not helping nobody Ready, because you don’t want to hurt people, but you do when you don’t take care of yourself. Like, not telling anybody, it makes it so much worse. Because I’m ashamed of it. Ashamed of what of hurting. There’s days where it’s like, I do cry and the amount of pain I can. I can’t hold it in forever. And the thing is, is like, I’m not asking people to understand, we just want you to listen and be there. Just sitting there is enough. It’s Thank you. I’m here for you do.
Dr. Monica Band 35:39
Alex, first, thank you, honestly, for sharing all that you had just now, it’s hard not to feel that and be affected by that. Something you said just there about, we don’t need you to fully understand, heck, we don’t even need you to solve the problem. It almost seems entirely too simple for someone who’s never experienced suicidal attempts, or ideations to just say, Hey, I just need you to show up and be here with me. That’s enough. But it is hard to show up and to not question someone who’s experiencing those kinds of thoughts or to have gone through those types of attempts to just listen, it seems so simple, and yet it is not. And I think you humbly reminded us that to truly listen and to be empathetic, to really focus in on, on what someone’s saying is important. I think in a very different way, you’re taking a note from your dad, and you’re saying, I have other options, I can go to therapy, I can ask for help. I can be a role model to other men listening and say like, the stigma is created when we don’t talk about these things. So thank you, Mom, how are you feeling right now?
I’m so proud of you, Alex. I know that was really hard. I know, that could have been really scary for you to say to me, but I want to let you know that I’m here. I you. Thank you for sharing that. what Alex said about just being there. And being a parent of someone who’s done self harm, and have attempted it. And the need or the want to fix it is so strong as a parent. And I’ve had to learn to just sit and listen. And it’s one of the hardest thing as a parent you will ever do is just sit there and listen to your child, express themselves and suffer. You can be there to support them to help them to guide them. But you can’t fix it. But the first time Alex did admit to being suicidal, we had to come up with a plan. You know, safe words, action words and stuff like that. And one of the reasons why I lost my one job was because I had chosen my family’s mental health over the job. And I’m sorry, but that’s just you give me a choice. My kids are going to be the choice. And I’m so proud of you, Alex. And I, I know you struggle, and I wish there was more I could do for you. beyond just being here and listening to you and hearing you and and there have been examples that Alex has experienced, or he has completely lost trust with anybody getting attached to him. Having an adult say I don’t want to be responsible for that analysis reaction. You’re not responsible for anything, except for listening to me. All I want is you to listen to me.
Dr. Monica Band 38:44
I think what you’re speaking to, I think, unfortunately, is all too common where you have someone really, I mean, you can’t get more raw and vulnerable than talking about ending your life and attempting to end your life. And it’s amazing, unfortunately, the reaction some people can have in response to someone just being so open and raw. And if I can come back to you, Alex, is that kind of difficulty with trust, something that you can relate to?
It’s a constant right now. And it’s like, what if the people you’re talking to just leaves because they can’t do it. And then in that situation, and the only thing that people need to understand it’s not your fault for having them leave, because then leaving is their choice. And that’s something that I’ve had to learn myself. And that’s something that I struggled with still, like I had my mom, but it’s like, I just want someone else, somebody that just will listen and have nothing to do with and it’s difficult, and it’s difficult.
Dr. Monica Band 39:51
When we think of that question, is there space for both people to heal and grieve? At the same time? But what is your initial answer to that?
My initial answer is immediately, no. Unless you’ve done the work to understand it, if you’ve done the work, or you have the help to help you with that you can, it’s just difficult.
I do believe it’s a can’t happen, I do believe that we can grieve together and we can heal at the same time. But like, we’re both hurt in the same way. But there has to be somebody to like, make sure we still are trying to move on, that’s gonna make sure that we’re gonna be okay after this. And it’s not that I’m pushing off the grief. It’s just like, I need support the people I care about.
I think we tend to lean on our kids, because we don’t know where to go. I didn’t know where else to go, because I didn’t feel I had any other adults close to me. Who could sympathize, empathize, or even understand what I was going through. wasn’t fair to him. Sometimes there’s still situations where I’m profusely apologizing, because I feel like he shouldn’t have been in the situation. Because I want him to be a teenager, I want him. I want him to experience life as a young kid that would later in his adult life, he can look on his childhood and say, Hey, I had some awesome, great moments, despite the Pardon the language the shitty outcome of my childhood. Alex is my first teenager. Okay. And so I don’t know how to raise a team. And so I’m learning how to let Alex have his fun as a teenager, while at the same time trying to teach him the skills he’s going to need when he becomes the adult and leaves the house. And I think there is a fine line on that, how can I teach you to be an adult? Well, boss let you in being a kid. And it’s hard to do that.
I wouldn’t call it a fine line, it would be a blurry.
There you go. blurry line.
Yeah, it’s such a blurry line. Because it’s like, I do want him to be a teenager, I want him to be 16. But I also want him to be ready to do these things on the adult side. And so that blurry line kind of gets mixed up. Pardon me.
Dr. Monica Band 42:19
To this point, you’ve experienced a lot of trauma together, right? A lot of loss and grief together. Who wouldn’t want to prepare for the next bad thing to happen? The hardship to come the pain to come? Because he’s already experienced so much of it? How does that sound? Is that fair to say?
It’s fair to say, and pain and losses is a big thing for us in our family, you know, So death is nothing that’s unusual. It’s just that nobody likes to talk about it. And we want to protect them from that at the same time, prepare them for it. And even if you’ve prepare them for it, I don’t think it ever hits you the way you think it’s gonna hit you. And so, I’m having to learn as a parent that guess what bad things are gonna happen. I can’t protect my kid all the time.
Dr. Monica Band 43:14
Alex, you you’re hearing your mom kind of make sense of that relationship between preparing you for life or protecting you? How are you feeling hearing that?
As anyone I think most kids is just kind of like, I hate when my mom tries protecting me or preparing me from the world. There’s things where I’m like, Yes, I do want your guidance. And there’s a lot of things where you’re gonna give me your guidance anyway, I’ll take it. But other part of me is like, let me fall on my face. Like, she’s trying to prepare me for it or like, over prepare me for it. It’s because she doesn’t want me making the same mistake as she did. Understandable. That’s how I see that.
I think that’s a lot of what parents do anyway. But yeah, he’s right. I don’t want him to make the same mistakes I did. Because you don’t want your kid to go through the same pain or hurt or struggle that you did. But he’s right. I can’t, can’t prevent him from falling down and getting hurt, I can put as many pads as I want to somewhere along the way, and he’s gonna get scraped anyhow, he’s gonna find that one real real spot on himself, where it’s not padded, and learn from it.
Dr. Monica Band 44:19
And it also sounds like to your point earlier about being inspired by some of the ways in which Alex is different than you it is a humbling reminder that Alex is approaching life differently and making different decisions, then maybe you would have growing up.
Exactly. And that’s something I have to remember is that he’s a completely different person than me or Ted, or his sister. Might want to also point out that I was really glad Alex said something earlier. If you don’t take care of yourself, you’re failing others. And that kind of hit me in a way of who’s right? You know, and so it was just something that stuck with me. It was appropriate and it’s It’s the truth.
Dr. Monica Band 45:02
For years, Alex and Tricia have had to deal with an incredibly difficult situation. When it comes to sharing the new unexpected responsibilities that come with it, it’s hard to strike the perfect balance. Tricia wants her son to just be a kid. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be moments where she needs to lean on him. It might not be fair, but it’s realistic. And while we can’t resolve this issue by tying it up with a perfect bow, the conversation is open. Now, they have the language to start drawing boundaries. I’ve worked with many people who live with depression, a sense of helplessness, and suicidal ideations of varying degrees. What I can tell you is that it’s very hard for people with these thoughts and feelings to open up and ask for support. And when people do open up, they’re often more concerned about how others will react to them. And on that, Alex’s point bears repeating, sitting there and listening is enough. So if a person you care about discloses thoughts of helplessness or suicidality, it’s critical that you make them feel supported, and try to be calm, kind and focus on active listening. And if you’re looking for more resources on how to have these conversations, check out the link in the show notes. Thank you to Alex and Tricia for your authenticity and courage today. This is I need to ask you something, and I am your host, Dr. Monica band. Next time on, I need to ask you something.
There’s more I NEED TO ASK YOU SOMETHING with Lemonada Premium. Subscribers get exclusive access to bonus content. There’s so many things we talk about and we’re barely scratching the surface. Tune in to learn more about what it means to be a perfectionist, to be conflict avoidant. And how to ask for help. I NEED TO ASK YOU SOMETHING is a Lemonada Media original. I’m Dr. Monica Band, the host of this show and a consultant with the Jed foundation. Crystal Genesis is our supervising producer. Giulia Hjort is our producer, and Rachel Lightner is our producer and audio engineer. Tess Novotny is our associate producer. Mixing and Original Music by Bobby Woody, additional mixing by Ivan Kuraev. Special thanks to Kelsey Henderson and the members of our youth focus group. Maria Perry, […] Erica Familia, Kofi Green and Cloud Ben. Jackie Danziger is our VP of narrative content. Executive Producers are Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs. This show was created in partnership with the Jed Foundation, a nonprofit that protects emotional health and prevent suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults. This series is presented by HOPE Lab with, Stupski Foundation and Lumina Foundation. Visit I needtoaskyousomething.org or use the link in the show notes for resources related to today’s episode. Follow I need to ask you something wherever you get your podcasts or listen at free on Amazon music with your Prime membership