Self-Preservation for Parents and Caregivers of Teens in Juvenile Court

juvenile-justice-system-self-care_treeWhen children you love and care for end up involved with the juvenile justice system, their journey could lead to months or years that slowly extract mental and physical energy from you. That’s why it’s paramount that you surround yourself with natural supports and a safe haven.
As parents and caregivers, our natural instinct is to nurture. An inexperienced child – perhaps even our own flesh and blood -- tugs at our hearts. Regardless of the title you hold, or how the child is related to you, you will need to carve out quality time for yourself. I’m sure some of you will laugh at the absurdity of this idea, but in the long run, our young people’s self-made problems from their past can and will come back to haunt our present.

The one thing you don’t want to do is to retreat into your shell. The damage has already been done, and now you need to elevate and transform yourself into survival mode. Although each of us handles stress differently, by losing and gaining weight, hair loss, and so forth, the bottom line is, you have to take care of yourself.
Carve out time to separate yourself from everything and everyone. Enter into a quiet small area of your home. Allow your body and mind to slow down and think of nothing. Initially, this effort will be difficult. As a parent and caregiver, practice daily the habit of clearing your mind and preserving self.
Listed below are activities I have tried over the years to alleviate stress. In most cases, I continue to practice them to this day:

  • walking
  • running
  • yoga
  • meditation
  • healthy eating
  • a good night’s sleep
  • power nap (15-30 minute duration)
  • uncluttering my living space
  • organizing a community support group of people with similar challenges
  • communicating more with family
  • volunteering 

These are just a few ideas of my own. Do you have any suggestions or activities of your own that may be beneficial to others? If so, please share, and leave a comment below.

Sadric Bonner is the Executive Director of a nonprofit organization, Great Expectations, based in Guilford County, North Carolina.

Updated: March 21 2018