Parents of children who deliberately harm themselves report finding incidents of self-harm extremely traumatic. They can experience feelings of helplessness and concerns about their ability to cope after their children are discharged from hospital and they also report a lack of information and support from healthcare professionals. There is an association between adolescent deliberate self-harm and family dysfunction and impaired adolescent-parent communication. Higher incidences of family disengagement, conflict, parental dissatisfaction and marital discord have been reported within these families as well as higher-than-average rates of affective disorder and substance abuse. A qualitative study of 25 parents involved in setting up a parents' support group in Ireland found that participants expressed the need for: support, information about suicidal behaviour in young people, skills for parenting an adolescent and advice on managing further incidents. Parents described significant difficulties in family communication, parent-child relationships and in the area of discipline following self-harm.
Byrne, Sinead ... [et al] - Deliberate self-harm in children and adolescents: a qualitative study exploring the needs of parents and carers Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry October 2008, 13(4), 493-504