A new friend shared with me the following this morning. I believe that for those of us who work with families and teens, the key thing to remember is persistence. When someone doesn’t open up on the first dozen phone calls, visits, youth retreats, etc., keep digging in.
A team at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been studying “Korean American Mental Health in its Familial Context.” Their preliminary findings available on the web include:
“ … hints of some [adolescent] behavioral problems (e.g., suicidal ideation, minor conduct problems such as stealing and running away from home) that appeared to be related to family pressures and strains. However, these instances of adolescent behavioral problems did not for the large part manifest in overt family dysfunction, as the adolescents and parents appeared to “contain” and manage this suffering. We nonetheless consider this type of evidence as pointing to the significant level of psychological suffering among Korean American parents and children despite the manifest resilience they exhibit. To have the whole family succeed in the immigration enterprise involves much psychic energy, pain, tension that must be managed by both parents and the children in order to contain and domesticate the individual frustration and to sustain the family. … We have documented that these sufferings and struggles are largely kept private within families and are accessed by researchers ethnographically only after repeated contacts. For the rare families that publicly acknowledge and attempt to seek help for the “fall outs” (in the form of adolescent externalizing behavior), there are virtually no resources or accurate information to assist the parents and the children successfully negotiate these family crises.” [my emphasis added]