190719 Dr Mohammad Tahir
Dr Mohammad Tahir Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The Alam family’s journey of healing from the stress and trauma over the past two weeks of searching for their missing son could take a while. But it starts with more love and acceptance shared among family members and no passing of blame on anyone, a psychiatrist told Gulf News.

Indian teen Perwez Alam was finally reunited with his family at 2.30am on Friday. He had been reported missing for over two weeks. The 15-year-old teen had run away and was in hiding at an Ajman villa shared by bachelors.

Emotions run high in situations like this and it could get overwhelming for family members. But it can be dealt with properly to start the healing process for the family, Dr Mohammad Tahir, psychiatrist and chairman of the American Wellness Centre, Dubai, said.

“Now that he’s back, do not keep any anger inside. Do not further punish him. At his age, he did not have the capacity to make a rational decision,” Dr Tahir, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, told Gulf News.

“For the parents, my advice is for them to be patient with their son and try to listen to him. Be more empathetic and supportive of him. Be a friend. They should assure him of their love.”

Janice Ponce de Leon/Gulf News

When everything has settled, the parents can encourage Perwez to share his feelings. They should rebuild the relationship so they can begin to regain each other’s trust.

“Ask them what made him feel the way he feels. Ask him to open up, speak his mind and listen to possible symptoms of unhappiness. Assure him they are there for him and will help him,” Dr Tahir said.

Being unreasonably strict by keeping an eye on him 24/7 or locking him up to prevent him from running away again will not help.

The trauma will leave a lifetime mark on Perwez’ parents. It could take months for them to grieve. If symptoms persist for more than six months, it is best to see a psychiatrist for help.

“History is the best predictor. Parents will obviously feel anger, helplessness, feeling of failure and stuff like that. All these things are very difficult for the parents to manage. This can be a very difficult situation. If they can manage themselves, this is wonderful. If not, they can seek professional help.”

Time for celebration

Dr Tahir said the reunion is a time for celebration and bonding for the entire family. He advises them to step back for a while and celebrate their togetherness. As for Perwez’ parents, while it’s human nature to blame someone for the mishap, they shouldn’t blame each other for what happened. They should instead be one team and be each other’s support system.

Dr Tahir also pointed out that the community has a role as well in the healing process. Since Perwez’s photos have been widely circulated in the country, he will be easily recognised in the streets or in public. Should this happen, community members should refrain from passing negative comments.

“We should neither make it a big deal or nor see him as a criminal. We need to be accepting and express our gratitude that he is safe. If there is any problem, we will not address it in the street or malls. That’s not our job. As a community, we should be supportive.”