Be sure to answer that cry for help

Take a walk through the local malls, or a drive down any main street and you’re likely to come across a group of teens with flat ironed hair ravaged by the effects of bleaching or dyeing, back combed and hair sprayed into place.

Take a walk through the local malls, or a drive down any main street and you’re likely to come across a group of teens with flat ironed hair ravaged by the effects of bleaching or dyeing, back combed and hair sprayed into place.

If not recognizable by hair or excessive use of black eyeliner, the skinny jeans and band t-shirts are a dead giveaway.

This is a stereotype that has stuck, and branded these teens as “emos”.

The term emo can be easily misunderstood. Its roots start as far back as 1980 in Washington when hardcore punk was breaking onto the scene. Emo is a style of rock music that is most noticeable by its very expressional and confessional lyrics.

The term emo stems from “hardcore emotional” which was used to describe the punk music that was starting in the 1980s.

For parents, having an emo teen can be emotionally disturbing since there have been negative stereotypes associated with it.

Emo has been said to glamorize depression and suicide to impressionable young people.

Emo teens are stereotyped as being angst-ridden or dominated by a feeling of dread or anxiety, sensitive and emotional.

In July of 2008, news broke out that Russia was taking steps to introduce legislation that would “heavily regulate emo websites and ban emo and goth dress style in schools and government buildings.”

These laws were being pushed because of fears that goth or emo encourage depression, self mutilation and suicide.

It’s a fact of life, teens like to push the limits.

Those limits may be their parents, school, peers or their community. One of their greatest tools at their disposal is changing their looks, especially since it can be so versatile. They can go from hardcore emo in their school hours and back to normal at home.

If your teen has decided to partake in this trend, it is important to find out what their reasons are for doing so. Because of the emotional ties that emo wear seems to entail, a parent who attacks their teen with questions and accusations will probably not make much headway. A better approach would be to sit down to a relaxed conversation with one another. Instigate an open and honest flow of words between each other.

The goal of this conversation should be to find out what they know of the trend they are participating in and why. What do they think being emo really means?

Before asking this question, make sure you have done your homework and found out for yourself. The most important thing is to make sure your teen is not self injuring, displaying interest or romanticizing suicide or depression. It could be as simple as dressing crazy and doing what their friends are doing.

Since you are the parent, ultimately what you decide to do is up to you. Each situation is different and therefore different techniques will be employed.

It should be your priority to ensure that your child is not experiencing serious emotional issues that would be better dealt in another way.

If it is a cry for help, be sure to answer.

Positive Parenting appears every week in LIFE. This week’s column was written by Jesseca Johanson with Family Services of Central Alberta. Johanson can be reached by calling 403-343-6400 or www.fsca.ca.

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