February 28, 2023

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About 1 in 200 children and adolescents suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms. OCD is a mental health condition that can affect people of all ages, including teens. However, for many adolescents, talking to their parents about their struggles with OCD can be difficult and scary. They may feel embarrassed or ashamed of their thoughts and behaviors, or they may fear being misunderstood or judged by their parents.

If you’re a teen and are struggling with OCD symptoms, it can be crucial to talk to your parents about your experience. Your parents can provide emotional support and help you access professional resources such as therapy and medication. Additionally, your parents can help you manage your symptoms by learning about the condition, providing understanding and empathy, and helping to create a structured environment that supports your treatment plan. By taking the first step to talk to your parents, you can take control of your OCD and work toward an effective and reliable recovery plan.

How can you explain your OCD to your parents to help them understand?

The term “OCD” can carry a negative connotation, making some teens dread communicating their OCD symptoms to their parents and asking for help. They may also be afraid of being labeled or stigmatized, or they may be worried about how their parents will react or what kind of help they will receive. Teens with OCD may also be concerned about the impact of their condition on their relationships with family and friends, leading them to avoid telling anyone of their concerns.

However, opening up about your OCD symptoms is the first major step toward receiving the help and relief you need. Planning for your conversation with your parents ahead of time can help ease your anxiety around the situation and help you mentally prepare for explaining symptoms. Here are a few things that you can keep in mind when talking to your parents about your OCD:

  • Be specific — Explain what specific thoughts or behaviors are causing you distress and how they are impacting your daily life. This can also be your opportunity to share examples of situations where your OCD has been particularly challenging for you and for you to be honest about how you feel about your OCD.
  • Encourage questions — Invite your parents to ask questions if they don’t understand something about your OCD. You can also provide your parents with information about OCD and its treatment options, such as articles, videos or websites that explain OCD in an accessible way. This will also help your parents understand that OCD is an illness and not your choice; it’s not something that you can control or change on your own.
  • Speak to a professional therapist — A therapist can provide a safe and confidential space for you to discuss your thoughts and feelings surrounding your OCD without fear of judgment or criticism. As a result, they can be a vital resource of support and guidance as you navigate the process of discussing your OCD with your parents and other loved ones. Additionally, a therapist can help you identify and understand your OCD symptoms and develop strategies for managing them. 

By being honest, clear and specific in your communication, you can help your parents understand the reality of living with OCD, which can ultimately lead to more effective support and help-seeking.

What should you do if your parents don’t understand your OCD?

If your parents do not understand your OCD, it can be frustrating and distressing. However, there are a few things you can do to help them understand:

  • Keep communicating — Continue to share information about your OCD and how it affects you. Be patient; it may take some time for your parents to fully understand. Remind them that OCD is not a choice; it’s a mental disorder, and it’s not something you can control or change on your own.
  • Encourage them to learn more — Provide your parents with information and resources about OCD, such as articles, videos or websites that explain the condition in an accessible way.
  • Seek professional help — Consider seeing a therapist or counselor who can help educate your parents about your condition and provide them with strategies to support you. Family therapy can be a great way for your parents to learn more about OCD and how to support you. If you don’t feel heard, understood or supported by your parents, seek support from other trusted adults such as a teacher, counselor or family member.
  • Show them your progress — If you’re receiving treatment and making progress, be sure to let your parents know and encourage them to communicate whether they’ve noticed positive differences in your behaviors and outlooks.

Remember, your parents care about you and want to help, but they may not know how. Be patient and open to their questions and concerns. It’s important to find a way to communicate with them and work together to help you manage your OCD.

Lightfully can help your parents understand your OCD

Opening up about your OCD and seeking help is crucial for your well-being. By providing a safe and confidential space for you to talk about your thoughts and feelings, and by helping you develop strategies for managing your symptoms, your parents, your teachers and other adults in your life can play an important role in supporting you as you navigate your OCD.

Our team of expert clinicians at Lightfully can develop a treatment plan for you and help your parents understand your symptoms. We believe in treating the whole person, rather than just their condition.

Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.


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