Your well-being helps your kids’ well-being.

Kerry: I hang up the phone. My beloved son might never talk to me again. But I know I have to do this. It might end up saving his life.In this one moment, I feel something rise up in me born of fear and love.It is bold, pure courage to make one of the most painful, disruptive decisions of my life. It is happening early tomorrow morning. And Palmer has no idea.

Palmer: I had the gun loaded, the barrel right there against my temple, ready to stop the suffering for good. If I could have gone through with it, it would already be over – this nightmare that is my life. But somehow it’s worse now than it ever was before. It’s my mom’s fault; she’s the only reason I am here in this awful place and it’s her fault that Dad is in jail. He was the one who was there for me, not her.

Let’s put a pin in that.

Hello from Japan! Palmer and I, along with our spouses, have traveled to Japan to present at the International Family Therapy Association Conference in Toyama, Japan.

The words above are the opening lines to our presentation. We shared our story of disconnection and healing with family therapists from around the world. At home, we’ve shared our story with divorce attorneys, therapists, and parents of tweens and teens. Why? I mean, it is a messy, sad story of near-suicide and heartbreaking disconnection between a mother and son. It’s personal and hard to hear. I still usually tear up when I talk about how it felt to have a beloved son HATE me.

But there IS an important reason we are sharing. We are sharing because we dodged the bullet of youth suicide. And we are sharing because of a horrific statistic that “Acute conflicts with parental figures precede 40% of youth suicide cases.” We don’t share this to scare you, but to be aware that a healthy parent-teen relationship is not just a “nice to have,” it’s a “must have” to protect youth mental health.

My point in sharing all this is to be a voice whispering in your ear that YOU MATTER. 

Your well-being helps your kids’ well-being. 

You doing whatever is within your power to create an emotionally healthy environment for yourself and your kids matters. You taking care of your mental health matters. As parents, it’s so easy for us to put our kids first and pour into them, leaving our needs unmet. But research points to the idea that it shouldn’t be an “or.” Instead, it should be an “and,” meaning yes, we focus on our kids. And yes, we focus on OUR mental health. Our joy. Our health. Our ability to rest and sleep and play. (Did you know that play is an essential attachment need for all of us?)

As a mom and stepmom of half a dozen kids, I 100% know the mindset of fully focusing on the kids’ well-being. But if all our focus on the kids leaves us parents depleted, blue, stressed, in a strained marriage, checked out, or unavailable to be present with our kids, we’re actually not helping them by our self-deprivation.


I hope your take-away is that a close, connected family comes from the kids feeling seen, loved and valued AND parents seeing, loving and valuing themselves.

OK, now it’s time for Palmer and me to head out with our spouses to go explore Kyoto. This is our “AND.” We worked, now we play. We are with each other, and we’re with our spouses. I started my morning in quiet contemplation and now it’s group time.

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Kerry Stutzman
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