“Never Let Go is the supportive, practical guide that all parents need to care for a child suffering with mental illness or poor mental health, based on a unique method, ‘partnering, not parenting’.
Combining honest personal experience with expert input from psychologists, this book provides parents with the methods and knowledge they need to support, shield and strengthen their child as they progress towards recovery from mental illness, as well as helping parents who have concerns about their child’s mental health. Suzanne Alderson’s method of ‘partnering, not parenting’ has helped thousands of other parents to effect change in their families through her charity, Parenting Mental Health and she now shares it with readers in Never Let Go.”
When my daughter was suicidal, life was every shade of hard – hard to comprehend, hard to manage, hard to cope. I was isolated and frightened and no one seemed to grasp the impact of what we were going through. It was also incredibly difficult to find the kind of down-in-the-detail, lived experience, support and advice I so desperately needed to make sense of the shape of what we faced and try my best to get us all through in one piece.
Despite the numbers of young people struggling with their mental health, I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to talk about it or share their experience. Professionals didn’t have time to mentor me through and friends and family couldn’t give me the style of empathy or experience that you get only once you’ve seen your child through mental illness. I approached a charity for support and was met with tumbleweed. It seemed that no one wanted to know about my daughter’s mental illness or help us through.
And so we stood alone and approached mental illness in our own way, trying and testing and tweaking our behaviours, language and expectations. We became the shield our daughter needed from the world, as she and we made sense of an illness none of us expected or wanted, and one that didn’t conform to the rules of society.
As we got further into my daughter’s mental illness, it became clear that our behaviour, expectations and assumptions as parents were having an enormous effect on her and her ability to deal with her mental health. What we assumed she could do; how we expected her to react; the weight of our hopes for her future and the disappointment we tried so hard to hide all had power to change her reality.
And so over time, I created a new compassionate behavioural approach that I called Partnering – not Parenting. It is one way for parents to change the dynamic in their relationship with their child and empower them to own their illness. It challenges what we know about authority in the parent/child relationship and allows for more open and honest communication. It has enabled me to build the strongest of bonds with my daughter, and allowed her to explore her illness on her terms and recovery resiliently.
It’s not just our family that has been impacted by it. It has been a powerful transformer for many of the parents in the Parenting Mental Health community and tried and tested with huge success in many families.