My name is Laura Lyles Reagan. I have a Masters in Sociology, specializing in interactionism and family communication theories. As a parenting coach and speaker, I help teens and parents create more meaningful and fun relationships by solving problems and developing effective communication. I am really excited about my new book, How to Raise Respectful Parents, which will be released soon.
I have worked in youth development for more than 20 years, primarily in the non-profit sector assisting teens and families to build effective relationships, solve problems and develop closer ties. I conducted research on youth development, mentoring and the ways parents can build better relationships with their kids which was published in the Journal of Applied Social Science (Dynamic Duos, April 2013.)
About this time my youngest daughter began having health problems. She was fifteen years old when the trouble started. She became very fatigued and started having joint pain. Since I am a lupus patient, I feared the worst, that she might have it too. I took her to doctors, therapists and specialists. Her symptoms became worse and she finally had to drop out of the rigorous academic program she was in.
After a year and a half of appointments and now having to be home schooled, Grace was depressed. She was isolated from her peers since she wasn’t in class every day. She lost a year in school and felt like she was behind in life.
She retreated to online activities and her music. Mercifully, we found a specialist who made a diagnosis: it was an early endocrine problem. Grace began medication and started to feel a little better. But the depression and darkness had changed her. We had decisions to make about her schooling. Would she continue school online, go back to the traditional classroom or find another option? She was disconnected from her friends. Many of them were now a year ahead of her. Would she renew those friendships or have to start over with a new circle of friends? There were so many decisions to make. I felt so distant from her.
I had to walk the line between providing help and letting go. I offered medical care, suggestions about self-care based on my experience, introduction to mentors who may share her journey and then I bit my tongue, a lot! I had to let her make her own discoveries about taking care of herself, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
Grace found solace in her music which I initially judged as dark. I was sure it was feeding her depression. I felt desperate for connection to her because of the isolation of her depression, so I was willing to take connection where she offered it. She actually invited me to listen to songs with her. We listened and I kept my mouth shut! The punk beat and screamo style was tough to sit through at first but I could tell the music was important to her. One of the characters in several of the songs had a death and rebirth experience. I began to get it!
Grace identified with the character. She was going through her own type of death when she lost a year in school and she was emerging with a new persona. In that moment, I realized that she had the skills she needed to interpret the influences around her and create meaning out of the experiences she was having. She was like a butterfly that had to struggle to break free of its cocoon. Communication from the heart was the key to learning when to help and when to let go.