Parenting: Setting Priorities With Your Children (cont.)

curly31_webmd: I have become a screaming nut. I yell far too much and I want to stop, but do not know how. I have been clinically depressed for several months and it is affecting my whole family. I want to change and I need help. I often feel suicidal but could not do that to my children. That is the only thing that keeps me holding on. Any suggestions?

Dr. Jeffers: First of all, again, this depression requires professional help, but I want to point out, definitely, professional help. I have no idea what causes depression; however, I am told that you are the same individual whose husband does not let you work outside the home. It's possible that if you did something outside the house, this would help your depression. It certainly helped mine. On the other hand, it could be a purely physical thing that your doctor would have to determine. It's not good to have a depressed person with the child 24 hours a day. Your loving your child can help you to get outside the house and fulfill yourself better, with the hope that the depression will go away. Sometimes, all it takes is adult activity, and a satisfaction with work. Sometimes it's deeper than that. You must take responsibility to take care of yourself, to get outside the house, and that you're being filled with joy outside the house. I had actually gone to a doctor 42 years ago when my son was an infant, and he said to me that some people were meant to stay home and raise children, but some were not. You are not. There is nothing physically wrong with you, but you need to get out of the house. He was way before his time, and I thank him deeply for giving me the courage to find stimulation outside the house. Some people love to play with children, others do not. Some are bored with games, the park, feeding, etc., that they can see their plants photosynthesizing. (Laughs.)

atllady_webmd: How do we as parents deal with the inner fear that we carry when we see our children making the wrong choices?

Dr. Jeffers: First of all, we don't know what a wrong choice is for our children. Obviously, this is different than dangerous choices like driving 90 miles an hour, but talking about life choices like not going to college or getting married too soon. We don't know what's wrong for our children. We know what is right for us. One great author said, "Our children come through us, but they don't belong to us." I agree with that. They have their own destiny. In my own life, things that seemed wrong turned out to be wonderful learning experiences. One of the reasons that parenthood can be so difficult is that we love our children so much, we want everything to be perfect. In our own lives, not everything was perfect. I had a mastectomy 17 years ago, and I'm sure it was very painful for my mother to watch, but I learned and grew, and consider it an enriching experience. The same can be said about my divorce. We learn from our difficulties, and I became stronger for the things that have happened in my life, and just trust that your children will learn and grow from their mistakes. Even if they don't turn out well, and you were right, they have to learn for themselves. This is probably the most difficult part about being a parent -- how much you love your children. It's this letting go that is so crucial to their growth, and your growth as a human being. Children should be a part of a bigger life, so when things are not going well in that arena, you have a whole support system in other parts of your life that can help you through difficult times.

vickiface99_webmd: I have a five-year-old boy and eight-year-old girl. They drive me nuts with their "Mommy, I can't go to the bathroom unless you are in there with me." Or "I can't get dressed unless you watch me." Then I say, "Yes, you can you are a big kid." Then they say "No, I am scared." What can I do to stop this? They are old enough to do thing without me watching them.

Dr. Jeffers: They're being habituated. They have a habit of your watching them. It's time for you to break the habit. Tell them they may be frightened, but it's okay, they can handle it. The biggest gift we can give our children is to teach them that they can handle whatever life gives them, to remind them constantly of their strengths, and reward them for their strengths, not for their weakness. We all grow together. In truth, we grow and learn as they do. We make mistakes and fix them, and in the end, trust that it's all happening as it's meant to happen.

Moderator: Dr. Jeffers, thank you for joining us on WebMD Live.

Dr. Jeffers: I enjoyed this. I could probably talk all day, but I appreciate the opportunity! My web site is and I encourage people to come on by!

The opinions expressed herein are those of the guest's alone. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

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