10-31-2019 10:08 AM - last edited on 10-31-2019 12:18 PM by Jess1-RO
Hi all, new here and looking for some help with my 17 year old step son who has had some significant challenges over the past few years.
Firstly his parents separated when he was 4 and have had a very poor relationship since, they cannot speak without fighting, or be in the same room and hence have been unable to co parent effectively. This has had a significant effect on their son.
Long story short, two years ago step son began school refusing while in his mother's care and attending while in our care. This escalated when he was alienated from seeing his father for 6 months and he was absent for almost half the time during these 6 months. He and his mother then decided to remove him from the traditional schooling system and put him in a sport and reacreation tafe style course. When he came back to us (completely out of the blue and against his mother's wishes) he lied about his plans for school and only when he didn't start at his old school were we aware that they had removed him and put him in a different school and system. This didn't work well and he now wants to repeat in the mainstream system, which everyone is in agreeance with.
He has a very volatile relationship with his mother, they fight constantly and he has been injured. Most recently he charged with assault and damage of property by police who attended his mother's house after she called them during a fight.
He has seen counsellors and psychologists with his mother but she has in the past refused to share any of the details of the treatment or progress.
Following the assault charge, both parents have been working more cooperatively together which is a small win, in a large problem.
Step son displays anger issues whenever he doesn't get his own what. He has not had many boundaries when growing up, as is common with children whose parent's can't effectively co parent. He just leaves when a parent tried to discipline im and goes to the other parent's place. Mostly the discippline has happened at our home and he has retreated to his mother's and puncished his dad by cutting off all communication.
His behaviour at our home is generally ok, but as he is with us all the time at the moment it is getting worse, because we won't allow him to do whatever he likes and he can't return to his mother's until the charges are dealt with.
He still has issues with school attendance and is terribly slow in the mornings - either deliberately or not, we can't realy tell. which makes us all late and is very frustrating.
He blames his parents for what happened withthe police and all of his other issues, and simply won't have a look at his own behaviour. He doesn't believe he is mentally unwell, despite the fact that he has been diagnosed with depression and anxiety in the past. He was medicated, but is not not.
My issue is I really don't know if he is mentally unwell or just terribly badly behaved, and therefore it is dificult to know what to do. Getting help has also been very challenging, 18 months ago we tried to get him into a paediatrician and were refused by everyone in our area. We have also tried the mental health triage service and have got him an appointment at Headspace next week.
We all really need help getting him back to the lovely boy he is, but don't know where to start.
I'm sure we are not the only people in this situation, but when you can't get help, you feel really alone.
10-31-2019 11:40 PM - edited 10-31-2019 11:41 PM
Hey @nickers, welcome to ReachOut and thanks for sharing what has been going on with your family. It sounds like it has been such a difficult and stressful time for everyone involved. You sound like you have been so proactive and involved in his life, trying to do whatever you can to ease the situation. The question you raise about mental health is a really important one. Anyone can benefit from support from a health professional - you don't need to be mentally unwell. Given what your step son has been through, there is no harm in providing that avenue of support for him. He will be able to receive assistance with whatever is beneficial for him. So with that being said, it is so great that you have booked him in for an appointment with Headspace. How do you think your step son might be feeling about this appointment? At such a young age, it can take some time to be aware of your own behaviour and how it might impact other people. Unfortunately it can make things so much more challenging for the family
It is so disheartening to hear that you feel so alone. We have a lovely parents based community here which will provide their support and insight soon. You can also read some of the other threads written by parents to read other advice, strategies or tips that may be relevant. At the very least, it can be great to connect with other parents to know that you are not the only one struggling. Dealing with heavy situation for such a long time must have taken a toll on both you and your partner - is there anything you both do as a form of self-care? It can help recharge the batteries, so to speak, so that you can continue to navigate all of these challenges. A service other parents find helpful is Parents Line which provides amazing support, referrals and resources for parents. Let us know if you give it a go