One of the "Trending" items according to Facebook today has to do with a young lady who decided not to attend her high school graduation but more specifically how the mother asked long-time advice columnist for the Washington Post Miss Manners (aka Judith Martin).
The mother, clearly dismayed by her daughter's decision not to attend her high school graduation - which most parents rightfully consider to be a major milestone in their child's life - asked Miss Manners if their daughter's non-attendance was okay and whether or not the gifts she would have received should be returned. They also cited that the daughter does not like parties.
Miss Manners laid into both the daughter and the parents:
D: According to Miss Manners the daughter did exhibit thoroughly rude and callous behaviour and it would be okay to return the gifts because, although generally an inappropriate gesture, the daughter went one step further in ignoring her guests' attendance for her special day. Such an insult bypasses gift etiquette.
P: Miss Manners does not absolve the parents of responsibility (which is why I loved reading this column. Rude children are often the product of rude parents). After reinforcing that the parents should return gifts and work with the daughter (my addition) to write letters of apologies to attending guests, well-wishers, and gift-givers the response goes on to say that besides not teaching good manners to their child the parents should also be ashamed for throwing a party for a young woman who doesn't like parties.
Based on the parents' letter to Miss Manners I would say that this is a growing social anxiety that has been cultivating for quite some time and without attention or care. I have a sister who is graduating this year (YAY!) who has severe anxiety and depression, so much so that she had to be home-schooled for the last couple of years. Throwing a party for her (after inviting guests) would guarantee this exact pattern of behaviour.
This is where prevention and intervention collide.
To Parents: Do yourselves a favour and pop over to the Psychology Tools website where there are a handful of screening and assessment tools that, although no longer in general use remain highly reliable and valid sources for identifying the possibility of chronic distress in your child (possibly in yourselves). Do not take these as diagnosis! I recommend them for the contemplative process of identifying needs. A needs analysis is one of the first steps in the therapeutic process. Talk to your kids about how they are feeling on a regular basis and get involved in their lives no matter their numerical/chronological age.
To Youth: Do your absolute best to attend your graduation ceremony and associated parties. If you are feeling distressed for any reason let your parents know RIGHT AWAY, even if you cannot describe what it is you are feeling, and maybe ask to visit a mental health clinic or your family doctor about seeing a counsellor. We are here to help.
Just a way to get a few thoughts across outside of the office. In this blog you may even find entries that assist in your healing without needing a session