Nov 06

Parents of Struggling Kids: Are You Suffering In Isolation?


Solitude vivifies; Isolation kills.
– Joseph Roux

As a parent of a struggling child, do you find that you are isolating yourself more than you used to?  Do you skip social events?  Have you stopped attending worship services?  Do you make up excuses so that you don’t have to be around people?

If the answer is yes, consider yourself normal.  Is that a relief?

Yes, it is very common for parents of kids who are struggling in any way to back away from their family, friends, and other vital parts of their social community.  We can shy away from public events, stop calling our friends, and even hide in the grocery isle to avoid people we know.

Even though this is common and somewhat ‘normal’, the problem is that it really only hurts us more in the long run.  We parents of troubled kids can have a lot of shame, and as Brene Brown explains in her very popular book, The Gifts of Imperfection, shame thrives in secrecy and isolation.  Though I am not a ‘shame’ expert, my guess is that some of our tendency to isolate roots in the shame we feel around our situation.  And if so, then isolation will only serve to foster and grow the shame, where connection, community, and telling our story, will serve as shame busters.

‘We don’t heal in isolation, but in community’.  – S. Kelley Harrell

And not to add confusion, but our possible need for solitude should not be mistaken with isolation.  We need time.  We need time to be by ourselves, sort out what has happened, learn from it, grow from it, formulate plans, etc.  Can you discern the difference between that beneficial kind of solitude and isolation?  Only you will be able to know for sure.  Perhaps the following question can help you:

Do you feel more at peace after your time alone, or do you just feel worse and want to isolate more?

If the answer is the latter, then I urge to examine what you are doing. Get out, find someone to talk to tell your story, find your community.  Help is out there and it is up to you to find it.  There are religious organizations, support groups, therapists, coaches, neighbors and friends who want to help, and really do share similar experiences.  You are not alone!

I urge you to use your ½ hour complimentary coaching session as a way to help you begin to come out of your isolation, and find the help you need and deserve.  Contact me today to schedule it!

So I ask you.  Have you isolated in the past, or are you doing it now?  How have you ‘come out’ of it, and what did that do for you?  Please share in the comments section below!


Leslie Ferris is a Certified and Credentialed Life Coach

Serving the parents of struggling tweens, teens, and young adults

Contact her today for your 1/2 complimentary discussion to explore what life coaching can do for you.

Connect with her via her website at http://www.phase2foryou.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Phase2ForYou

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Leslie_Ferris

LinkedIn:   www.linkedin.com/in/leslieferris/



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  1. Helene Lafleche

    What a nice article Leslie!
    I went through this journey as well. My oldest son started to have seizures in his teen years and up to htis date, he is 24 years old.

    Yes the process of hiding, shaming and isolating is very well known to me. I had marvelous coaches on my path and they made a difference in my life.

    I am full of gratitude that you are there to help parents with struggling young human beings.

    Helene Lafleche MBA, Longevity Coach

  2. Leslie Ferris

    Thank you so much Helene! I really appreciate that. I am so glad you had the support you needed through your journey, and I wish you well onward. Thanks for stopping by my blog…

  3. Bill White, Licensed Counselor

    Hi Leslie!
    Boy, this isolation business is dicey stuff. Whether it’s in reaction to depression, anxiety, struggling kids – you name it – it’s often so comfy. But it’s a giant trick-bag, and if we’re not careful a seclusion with temporary intent can turn into a long and dangerous time in hell. It’s all so shame, guilt, shot-self-esteem driven. It’s also 100% fixable (preventable). Ah, but there’s the rub. The fix is in taking those initial baby steps toward socialization. And that often takes a whole lot of courage and blind faith. That’s why it’s so important to ask for help, as one can hold-on to the “helper’ until one’s legs become sufficiently sturdy to continue time in the outside world on their own. Interesting you’ve presented this piece just now. I just posted an article on the same subject matter on my blog. Out of respect to you, I won’t provide the link; however, I think the link to Chipur is available on this comment. Thanks, Leslie, for another quality article. I’ll be back…

    1. Leslie Ferris

      Ah yes, Bill. I did notice that we were on the same wavelength this week! Maybe that is testament to how important this topic is. Thanks for stopping by and adding your valuable comments. You have a beautiful way with words. I will head over to your blog now, and I hope other do to! Thanks Bill!

  4. Lisa Frederiksen - BreakingTheCycles.com

    I love the way you distinguish between the need for solitude vs isolation. For as you write, “We need time. We need time to be by ourselves, sort out what has happened, learn from it, grow from it, formulate plans, etc.” I think the isolation sort of creeps up, too – we get so caught up in the crazies and the out-of-left field interruptions that it slowly becomes easier to not even try – plus, a person gets exhausted with lack of sleep, constant worry, etc. So while it’s counter-intuitive, as you write and your featured quote says, “‘We don’t heal in isolation, but in community’. – S. Kelley Harrell.” I hope parents take you up on your generous offer for a free 1/2 coaching session – working with you will help them get clarity. Thanks for a wonderful post, Leslie!

  5. Leslie Ferris

    Thanks for the kind words Lisa, appreciate that. This is one of those topics that has been rumbling around in my brain for a while, and now I am glad it finally made it onto paper!

  6. Carele

    Great article which is important for parents to read so they can see they are not alone.

  7. Veronica Solorzano Athanasiou

    It’s good to read this. Many parents are not honest about having problems with their children so when I’ve been through testing times I think it’s just me. I’ve noticed that isolation could seem like a good idea to avoid confronting a difficult reality. It’s been great to connect through Carele’s Blog event Leslie. Lovely meeting you and what you do. Looking forward to more.

    1. Leslie Ferris

      Thanks Veronica, and likewise. Yes isolating seems like the natural and almost instinctual thing to do, yet so harmful… Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

  8. Candace Plattor

    Hi Leslie, I’m so glad you’re talking about this. As an Addictions Therapist, I work primarily with the loved ones of people with addiction – and most of the time, it’s parents with addicted children – both teens and adults. Just today, a client told me how she hasn’t been reaching out to her friends because she feels so much shame about her son’s addiction. She’s been feeling very lonely – and added to that is the stress between herself and her husband as their child’s situation has intensified.

    But the reality is that for every 1 addict, there are usually at least a dozen people who are affected. Even though we don’t wear signs on our foreheads saying “I’m affected by someone’s addiction”, I believe that probably 99.9% of the people we see walking down any street in virtually any city or town these days are in some way affected by someone else’s addiction – their own, someone else’s, a friend or relative who is affected – the possibilities are unfortunately endless. And I believe it’s a similar situation when parents are facing any troubling situation with their children – they feel so alone but have no idea how many other parents are feeling exactly the same way even if the details of their stories may be different.

    Thanks for bringing light to this really important issue. I hope that parents reading your article will be inspired to reach out to each other with compassion and gentleness, because we are all in this together.

    1. Leslie Ferris

      Thanks so much for your comment Candace. Yes that feeling of shame and isolation can be pretty intense, and very lonely. Once a parent finds out that they ‘aren’t the only one’ – what a relief! Thanks for all you do, and all of your great work with the those affected by addiction.

  9. Herby Bell


    YES!!…that’s a relief. And oh, the places I go…Your great suggestion of “The Gifts of Imperfection”, which I intend to read reminded me of another fave, “The Imperfection of Spirituality.” OH what-a-relief-it-is to know I’m not…we’re not alone.

    And then…you reminded me of playing, “Hide and Seek” as kids and the joy of recollecting how ecstatic it was to be found…or to know someone was looking for me and then…me looking for another. Wow, hadn’t thought about that for years. Now you got me thinking about Nana’s house in Capitola-by-the-Sea. I’m not alone!!

    Are you some kinna Shaman, Leslie Ferris?

    What a perfectly spot on and healing post. THANK you.

  10. Leslie Ferris

    Thanks Herby – appreciate that. IDK if I am some kinna Shaman or not! Tee-hee – I guess time will tell. Love that, and thanks for stopping by…

  11. Cathy Taughinbaugh

    This is an always needed reminder, Leslie. It is so easy to isolate and hide away from family and friends because you don’t want to share what is really happening at home. Recovery for everyone happens in a better way if people reach out and ask for the help that they need and not stay in the shadows. Thank you!

  12. Kyczy

    Don’t suffer alone. Your kids have their friends supporting them. You need a “support group” too. You need it for yourself, and to give you guidance when you are tired, The disease of addiction wants you alone so it can kick your A** – as a co-addict as well as an addict. Don’t let it get you on the ropes. Find your sangha.

  1. Parents: Are you using your intuition enough? - Phase 2 For You Blog

    […] « Parents of Struggling Kids: Are You Suffering In Isolation? […]

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