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At a loss

Discussion forum for parents in Australia


At a loss

I'll try to keep this as brief as possible. I have been a single mom for close to 4 years. Left a marriage where I was the sole support of income since 2007 because my soon to be ex husband got laid off from his job and literally did not even attempt to look for work. This led to us moving 4 times in as many years until we were forced to live in his parents' basement. The atmosphere was volatile to say the least. I was again the only person in the house bringing in a paycheck and after over 5 years (and begging for us to move out) I left. I was in the midst of trying to find a decent place to live so that my two teenage daughters could be with me or at least share time in between both parents' homes.


I spent over 2 years practically homeless, but still providing money and support for the girls. Because of my ex's family, the girls did not speak to me for a while and have since admitted that his family said horrible, untrue things about why I left the marriage. They told me that his family verbally abused them, didn't feed them, their father was angry all of the time, slept all day and got mad when they asked to be driven somewhere. My youngest was in danger of failing all of her classes and I found out she had been absent 19 times during the first half of her sophomore year. I stepped in, got the appropriate help she needed for that school year, and a year ago found a home for the girls and I to live in full time together.


The first month or so was fairly uneventful. I set basic rules: no drinking, no smoking pot, no drugs, no funny business. I also told them both that they needed to find jobs in order to teach responsibility and expected them to do basic chores around the home. I work in a law enforcement agency and was putting in at least a 70 hour work week which sometimes went well over 80 hours. I explained to the girls (20 years old and 17 years old) that just because I worked a lot did not means the family rules did not apply. When I had time off, it was for grocery shopping, laundry, house cleaning etc....the basic things. We spent time together when I had time to do so because of my work schedule. I received no financial support from their father.


After being single for almost 4 years, I finally met a man several months after we moved in to our home. I am still with him and he has proven to be the polar opposite of my ex husband. He is gainfully employed, doesn't smoke, drink or do drugs, and has helped me to restore my faith in God. We go to church once a week and go to the gym almost daily, something I was lacking in prior years. He started helping me with bill payment and necessities for the girls, none of which I asked him for. He told me that he took the girls out to dinner one night and he spent the whole dinner listening to them about how horrible it was living with their father and his family. I was always up front with the girls with my new relationship and they seemed to be genuinely happy for me, even going so far as to say "Mom, maybe he can move in and you won't have to work so many hours."


Fast forward to this February. I accepted a day shift position elsewhere that had a set schedule and my hours went from over 80 to 40-48 hours. My boyfriend moved in and I had alerted the girls (who did not work, pay bills, or do their laundry. We even paid their cell phone bills.) that he would be moving in and I would be home to make dinner every night. He is a chef so he would also be helping with the meals. My ex husband found out I was dating someone and from that moment....everything changed. The girls stopped speaking to us. My youngest became extremely obstinate, slamming doors in our faces, refusing to get up in time for school, smoking cigarettes behind my name it. The eldest was rarely home as she is now in a committed relationship (which is her right. She's an adult.). The youngest screamed at me one morning because I went to her and asked where the cat food was that I had just purchased the day before. She admitted that she "threw it out because it wasn't the right brand she wanted." She continued screaming at me and my eldest came out of her room and began berating me, stating that "I do not respect them" and "I need to start respecting my ex husband." I was floored. My boyfriend had just handed $700 to her to get her braces taken off and neither of us received so much as a thank you. We would make their dinners to find them uneaten, or scraped into the sink or the trash. The kicker was going grocery shopping one Wednesday, coming home after a long day at work the next day and finding out my youngest had thrown all of the food we had just purchased into the trash.


I advised both girls that we would no longer be cooking their meals. The food was there to be eaten, however they would have to cook it themselves. They were on their own for doing their laundry. I gave them 6 weeks to get jobs to pay for their cell phones which would have cost them $33 a month each. No job, no money, no cell. I suppose they assumed I was bluffing. Their phones were shut off. In the interim I discovered that my youngest was stealing from stores, drinking alcohol, and smoking pot. I found empty beer and wine bottles in her room as well as a pot pipe with residue. She defaced all of her walls with swears and disgusting pictures and refused to paint over them. We had to place a lock on our bedroom door because we caught her coming out of our room on several occasions. I installed a security camera in the home which she kept unplugging. The final straw was last week...I had previously lost my job due to being unable to perform my duties because of all of the negative stress in the home. I was on my way to pick my boyfriend up from work when he called me and said my ex husband, who has been told on numerous occasions not to be in our home when we weren't there, was there with the girls taking their items out of the house. My youngest daughter unplugged the security camera and we had to call the police to escort them out. She plugged it back in and we have screenshots of her flipping the camera off as well as sneaking a full 6 pack of beer out of her room.


(I'm almost done, I promise.)


The day afterwards, we came home to find a letter from CPS stuck in our door. Someone called CPS and stated that I was being investigated for neglect. Neglect? I was in and still am in absolute shock. Neither my boyfriend or I have criminal records. My boyfriend doesn't even have so much as a speeding ticket in all of his 40 years. They came the next day, inspected my (very clean) home and started asking questions about my past, if either of us had been involved in alcohol or drug use.....I felt as though I was being persecuted for something I had never done. I had been the sole support for this family, INCLUDING my ex husband, for 13 years. I honestly feel that because my ex found out that I am truly moving on with my life he is reverting to very childish tactics in order to "get the girls on his side," and to be honest it's working very well for him. My youngest sent me horrible texts such as I am a horrible mother, I don't do anything for them, I need serious professional help.....I never told them I lost my job. I never told them that I had to go to food banks in order to bring food home to feed them. Never told them I had to borrow money from my father to keep the electric bill on. Never told them my boyfriend used the rest of what he had in savings to pay for braces or their cell phones.


I've been in close contact with my daughter's school and they are aware of the situation. I'm, to put it quite plainly, a wreck. I haven't been able to sleep, I can't eat, and now with this past week it has just exacerbated the issue. I did everything for those girls because that was my job as a parent. I packed up their belongings nicely two days ago and sobbed the entire time. We changed the locks because we are afraid of them breaking in. Our landlord is aware of my youngest defacing property and he stated neither of them are allowed back in here, and rightfully so.


This is my dilemma. Within a few months they completely turned on me and started talking about how wonderful their father, who still doesn't work, lives in his parents' basement and lives off the state, is. Both my boyfriend and I are dumbfounded. He never once spoke an ill word to them, never disciplined them, because it wasn't his place to and he was mature about it. We both work very hard, and are good and honest people. Now we are being persecuted because of two little girls who were angry that their cell phones were shut off or telling them they were responsible to do their own laundry. It was my attempt at tough love. But now......I'm here, writing on this forum, and crying. I have never been in this situation and never dreamed I ever would be. My family has our backs and know what the girls have been doing and how they are acting and are appalled at their behavior. I'm just at a loss. I don't know if anyone else has been through something similar, but I feel as though we are the only ones going through it. I really, truly need some guidance and support with this.

Parent/Carer Community Champion

Re: At a loss

Hi @Broken2019 ,


My heart goes out to you. I'm sorry, I am not the kindred spirit you are looking for (I have not shared your experiences) but I empathise with you and admire your courage.


The years of sacrifice and commitment you have given to your family, only to be treated with a lack of recognition, vilification and outright abuse is despicable. No one deserves what you have been through.


I cant help but think how tough things have been for you. For me, I find strength in the positive relationships in my life. I have one son who has been challenging, and two daughters who have been amazing. When things are tough with my son, I often draw from the strength I get from my daughters to help me through. For you, this will come from your new partner.


I'm happy to hear that you have someone who "is on your side" and is giving you emotional support during this period of your life. He sounds amazing! I wonder if you could also receive professional support? Even help lines can be useful for getting things off your chest and clear your mind.   


I don't know what you should do next. I guess one path is to try and give yourself a break from the people in your life who are causing so much distress. You have taken action by refusing them entry into your home. I'm sure that wasn't easy, but I know everyone reading your post would agree it was necessary.


I wonder if others have ideas for how you can move forward from here?


Thank you for allowing us into your world, if only to help for a moment through anonymous connection. It would be great to hear from you again (but absolutely no pressure) as I'm sure others are going through similar experiences. You have been a rock for so many years, I hope you get the support you need.


Thoughts are with you Smiley Happy  



Parent/Carer Community Champion

Re: At a loss

Hi @Broken2019 


Being a parent certainly can be a handful.  Having to deal with additional personal issues like relationship break ups can make it so much tougher.  Especially if your ex-partner and yourself find yourselves competing for the children in a popularity conquest.


Most Teens don't have the experience to understand the impact their action can have nor the value of things.  Many are used to having things given to them because they want them.  When the reality starts to hit in the mid-late teens that they have to contribute to get things back it can be a rude shock and they lash out without understanding the impacts they cause.


As an australian web site most on here would not have had experience with US CPS but I imagine that if you are providing a safe quality home the investigation will show that.


My partners daughter went through some tough times, ending in her moving out to live with her boyfriend.

I will save you the details though I will say my partner was shattered.  Fast forward about a year and now her daughter has a new appreciation for her mother.  Nothing like a healthy dose of reality and a year of growth to help them realise that things were not half as bad as she thought.


My advice would be to hang in there. 

Take steps to look after yourself and remind yourself of the good things you have done for your children.

Keep the communications channels open, they might not use them now, but at some point they may want to and you need to be receptive for when they are.

Try (I know it is hard ) to remember they are teenages and whilst that is not an excuse it does explain why sometimes they are acting without thought for consequences or impacts on others..


Prolific scribe

Re: At a loss

Message contains a hyperlink

Hey there @Broken2019


I'm sorry to hear how difficult things have become between you and your daughters. It is wonderful that you have your boyfriend by your side to help support you. How have things been since you last posted?


Both @Dad4good and @PapaBill have provided some excellent advice. I also wanted to link in this website the National Parent Helpline that has several links to helplines in the United States that may be helpful for you to contact and seek more detailed support for your area. 


I hope that things are going alright, we are here to listen Smiley Happy