I asked Steve to provide you with 10 tips to survive your dysfunctional family as we head into the holidays. The holidays are so often portrayed by loving families enjoying one another, even though that is often not the case—even here in wealthy Silicon Valley and the Bay Area. Dysfunctional families exist in every culture, ethnicity and economic state.
Here are Steve’s tips:
1. Remember it’s not your fault that there are problems at home.
2. You are not the cause of your abuse.
3. If you are being abused tell a teacher or counselor at school.
4. You can’t change the people in your household but you can get help yourself to make things better.
5. Before you run away from home, try calling the National Runaway Safeline (1-800-RUNAWAY) for other ideas and help.
6. Anybody I know who thought of suicide was glad that they did not do it because things always got better! And call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK for help.
7. Whatever your religion try to go to your house of worship during the holidays for strength to deal with the problems in the house. Try to get others to go with you.
8. All problems are temporary. You will in the future be in control of your own holidays and happiness.
9. Don’t focus on other people’s addictions or problems and things that are wrong that you can’t change. Think about things that you can change and what the holidays are really about.
10. If it’s possible, spend time with positive friends who can encourage you. Do not spend time with anyone who is drinking or using drugs.
The Teenage and Young Adult Survival Handbook can be found in any of Steve Simpson’s four young adult fiction novels, Who Am I?, Child’s Island, The World is Wrong and Runaway. If you were to just try to give the Handbook to a young person they would most likely reject it and say they don’t need any help.
Because The Teenage and Young Adult Survival Handbook is an insert in the novels, the premise is that you’re giving the fiction book to the young person to read and while they have it you hope they turn to the Handbook and see the lifesaving information in there. This way the young person is not embarrassed or put on the spot and it allows a considered adult or peer to try to help the teen or young adult without conflict.
If you’re an adult and know of a teen or young adult in a dysfunctional family, reach out. Do something fun with him/her. Use affirmative words about the young person; offer realistic and constructive hope for the future. Show him/her different options in life.