I am at my wits end and I think laws in Australia need to change in regards to kids

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I am at my wits end and I think laws in Australia need to change in regards to kids

I am wondering if anyone can help me. I am at my wits end with the "protection laws" of children in Australia. Children as young as 11 can simply run away and everyone in authority claims there is not much they can do... I was born and grew up in a country where one had to attend school until 18 and it was followed up vigorously. If one had no parents or family, one had to live in a home with professionals. There was no money for children who turned 18. They were only adults at 21. If they wanted to move away from home, they could at 18 but had to have a job to maintain themselves. I have been having trouble with my daughter who recently turned 16, for nearly 2 years now. She has run away over this period ten times. Her reason is that she wants to be able to do what she wants, e.g "hanging" out with friends and attending parties etc. She thinks that she should be allowed to live out on her own and that we need to pay her accommodation and expenses out of home. she has moved in with total strangers, the longest for 3 months at a time. I have had police involvement who do "safety" checks every now and then. This has all come from the peers and their parents who have been the worst influence on my daughter. When she returned home last year, we put her in a private school, to do year 10, away from the very bad influence from peers in the state school. She refused to wear skirts and that was the uniform there. She ended up running away again in the last term of the year and did not complete year 10. She finally came home just before Christmas. We took her back in and two days later, she announced she had just started a relationship with a 19 year old, turning 20 soon. We held our hearts. We did tell her that we did not like it very much and that she really would have to concentrate on studying so that she could better herself. She said she understood. She was hardly ever home since the day she returned, chores were not done and one Sunday we told her that today she had to stay home and help out with some jobs. She said she needed some time alone, walked into town (we live 6 km from town) and finally returned at 9.30 pm, driven home by her P plater boyfriend. We told her it was unacceptable and grounded her for two weeks. First week went reasonable. Then I discovered on Saturday night that she had run away in the middle of the night. i was worried, could not reach her at all. She returned at 2.30 am in the morning. She went to bed and the following day, she was packing her bags, just like that and moved in with the boyfriend. She has had a few jobs over the last couple of years, lost all of them, one due to stealing, one due to not turning up and my husband had given her an apprenticeship in his business, she threw out the door as well. each time, we think we have made headway, she doe sit again, it leaves me in tears. i do not want to live in a country where teenagers tell adults how it is going to be. We have tried so much for our daughter. She recently got her learners license and we started to let her drive our cars, one automatic, one manual. Now, she left again and the boyfriend told us that he cannot support her but still says that he will not send her back. She has health issues and needs to eat more nutritious. I doubt the boyfriend will help out with that. I want her to come home and attend school. I have told her that i cannot support her when she is not home. She was given another casual job in my husbands business, which she threw out again as well. She blames us for not wanting to listen to her, but we cannot grant her wish which is to live away with our full financial support. Her little sister is devastated and started eating far too much and is struggling with weight issues. Police aren't happy that they don't have the power to pick them up and send them home with the warning to behave. It is one big joke. We lost the power as parents to protect our children. She was behaving well until she met this new friend and her mother 3 years ago. We have send her to counselling and it took the counsellors months to establish that my daughter was telling so many lies about the reasons she wanted to move out, she went as far as accusing her father of abuse, it has been really hard on him. We are left behind to look after the horse we bought for her, her again.... I am very worried for her and frustrated that my hands are tight.


Re: I am at my wits end and I think laws in Australia need to change in regards to kids

Hi @Lekino,

Welcome to ReachOut, and thank you for sharing what's going on for you and your daughter. It sounds like you and your partner are really struggling with your relationship with your child. A lot of the members on the forum have had similar experiences, and I am sure they'd be able to help, or give there perspective on the situation. Because this is such a stressful situation, I wanted to double check if you and your partner have any supports for yourselves? For example, friends, family, a counsellor, or helpline (i.e. Mensline)?

I'd highly recommend giving Parents Line a call on 1300 30 1300. They specialise in giving phone support to parents who are having a tough time. 

I'll also tag some other users of the parents forum who might be able to share their thoughts on the situation
@Dad4good @sunflowermom @JAKGR8 @Worrisome

Parent Community Champion

Re: I am at my wits end and I think laws in Australia need to change in regards to kids

This sounds like a heart breaking situation. Is it possible you are all experiencing cultural (age, faith, country) issues with goals and expectations?


I’m not sure what you can do about your daughter not living at home. It sounds like if you push too hard she may apply for emancipation and start collecting something like Newstart, which means she can afford to leave home.


Maybe mediation? 


Would she visit a GP to ensure there aren’t any other factors influencing this behaviour?  


Is there a compromise? Would she consider living at home on school nights? Maybe if you can get her back at home part time it could build up to more. 


Who is paying for her phone and data?  If it is you, you could revert to a basic plan with a very basic phone that doesn’t enable easy browsing or social media. That way you can still contact her but she can’t have all the other luxuries of an online life. 


From some of your comments it sounds like you might be interested in http://www.toughlove.org.au which has support groups. 


I am fairly sure that most states have laws about attending school until 17yo or more. There are fines, of course, but many high schools have re-engagement programs and counsellors who specialise in this behaviour. This is where the police can actually help. It may be worth researching your state’s attendance laws and a school or group near you that specialises in this care. 


This is such a difficult situation and I hope to see some good suggestions from other parents as well. Look after yourself and good luck. 

Active scribe

Re: I am at my wits end and I think laws in Australia need to change in regards to kids

Hi Jackgr8, thank you for your advise. I just wrote another long message, when i lost my internet and it did not save. 

Active scribe

Re: I am at my wits end and I think laws in Australia need to change in regards to kids

Hi Tomro, i just wrote a long message and then lost internet and it did not save. I will try and re-write it later. Thank you for your advise. We have tried absolutely everything. Nobody cares it seems

Prolific scribe

Re: I am at my wits end and I think laws in Australia need to change in regards to kids

Hey there @Lekino,

It's definitely annoying when we lose our replies, if only the draft had saved sooner.

It sounds like there is a lot going on with you and your daughter. Did you find any of the above suggestions helpful?

While it's important to take care of your daughter, it's also important to take care of yourself. Have you been able to take some time for yourself recently?

Community Manager

Re: I am at my wits end and I think laws in Australia need to change in regards to kids

Hi @Lekino ,


Is this the thread you were looking for over the weekend?


How are you going at the moment? We would love to check in with you again 

Active scribe

Re: I am at my wits end and I think laws in Australia need to change in regards to kids

Thank you Jess, that is the message. thank you for helping me find it back. I will write another reply tomorrow. Thank you very much for thinking of me.