Marsha Linehan, PhD, developed Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for the treatment of people diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). She described the development of BPD as something that can occur in a highly sensitive person who grows up in a household that is not able to meet their emotional needs. She refers to that as an invalidating environment.

What Linehan believes is that continual invalidation of an emotionally vulnerable young person’s feelings can have lasting negative effect. And there’s lots of research to support that belief.

A recent edition of the New York Times presented an advice column for parents of teenagers about how to best support their adolescent child when they come to them with a concern about something going on in their young life.

The headline for the article is “Why Teenagers Reject Parents’ Solutions to Their Problems. The subhead reads “It’s usually because we’re not giving them what they’re really looking for.”

The gist of the piece is that all too often parents, despite their best intentions to be helpful, can easily say or do things that only add fuel to the emotional fire their child is experiencing.

Trigger Warning:
The intent of the article is to offer advice to parents of teens that is helpful, even if it might seem counter-intuitive.

If you’re a parent, the advice is thoughtful and worthy of consideration. However if you are a teenager or an adult who has or had a difficult and contentious relationship with a parent or other caregiver, you might find the information to be disturbing, particularly if it reflects your personal experiences growing up. You may want to ask a trusted caregiver, your therapist or a peer support person to read it first.

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