Adolescence is an especially critical time for LGBTQ teens who show higher rates of suicide attempts or thoughts, substance abuse, and depression, and higher rates of being bullied. Those who lack support from family or friends are even more likely to struggle with their mental health. One of the biggest fears teens have is not whether they will be rejected by their peers at school, but rather how supportive their family will be if they ask for help. While these may seem like separate issues, family support reduces the risk and impact of bullying among teens.
The Role of Family Acceptance
In a study investigating protective factors against bullying, researchers found that LGBTQ teens were more than 25% less likely to be frequently bullied at school if they were from supportive family backgrounds. As people develop their sense of self and beliefs about relationships early in life, family support during adolescence helps teens build their sense of identity, self-esteem, and control.
Most people who struggle with low self-esteem have had experiences where they have felt isolated from others and rejected by others. This contributes to feeling insecure about accomplishments and being scared of failure in terms of reaching their goals and meeting other people’s expectations.
While parent support may not necessarily be able to prevent bullying at school, it has a positive impact on a teen’s self-esteem, which influences how they may respond to being bullied or rejected by classmates. Teens who feel confident about who they are and what they like to do are less likely to let other people’s opinions shake their self-esteem and resilience.
How Family Relationships Affect Peer Relationships (and vice versa)
Positive relationships with parents cultivate self-esteem in children, which leads to more positive relationships with peers in adolescence and young adulthood. Young adults who have struggled to connect with others through childhood are more at risk of being bullied, which reinforces low self-esteem.
A study at Northwestern University found that LGBTQ youth who have a strong network of support from their peers and their significant other not only showed lower levels of distress but also experienced increased support from their family over the course of adolescence. This demonstrates that support can have a domino effect. When teens feel more supported in their lives, they are also more likely to trust others and attempt to expand their circle.
Increasing Family Support for LGBTQ teens
Families recognize that creating success may involve making changes on their end to support a healthier relationship with their child. The relationships that teens develop with their parents are often their most long-lasting relationships, regardless of how often they see each other through adulthood. For this reason, rebuilding family relationships is an important part of helping teens make lasting changes in their lives.
As lack of communication and misunderstanding between parents and their children are the main sources of family conflict, one of the goals of family therapy is to help families improve their communication styles by facilitating interactions in various settings.
Family Involvement in Residential Treatment may include:
- Letter writing
- 90-minute family therapy sessions weekly by phone or video conference
- Face-to-face therapy sessions
- Therapy assignments or readings for parents
- Weekend visits on or off-campus
- Multi-day family seminars every quarter
- Home visits once approved
Solstice West Can Help
Solstice RTC is a residential treatment center for young girls ages 14-18 who struggle with issues such as anxiety, depression, trauma, addictive behaviors, and/or relationship struggles. This program provides individual, group, and family therapy to help students heal and improve from every angle. Fitness, nutrition, and academics also play an important role in this program. Solstice gives young women the skills and support they need to transition into the world feeling confident, happy, healthy, and capable of self-managing. We can help your family today!
Contact us at 801-919-8858 to learn more about our family programming.