It sounds like a really challenging situation for all of you to navigate @goingcrazy2021 , I can hear how frustrated you are. Philippa mentioned the idea of couples' counselling - I know that was something that I found really helpful when my partner and I transitioned into living together as a blended family. Sometimes it can be so valuable to have a safe space where you can talk through things with someone who's removed from the situation.
I'm just curious, what's his relationship like with your daughters? Is there anything that they enjoy doing together?
We're glad that you've been able to share a bit about what's happening for you here @goingcrazy2021 , it can feel really isolating when you're having a tough time at home .
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Hi parents/carers: just tagging parents who've been active recently who may be keen to take part in this activity!
@Evelyn @Birdwings @Imoverwhelmed @enorman @Carol637 @Lady1401 @HumanBeing @Lelsar @Toby98 @Jazzyjennifer @itsamarathon @Fambam83
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Have you ever wondered what is going on in your teen's head, but known that they may not be ready to open up to you just yet? Or have something you're really curious to hear a young person's perspective on- but know that it's not the right time to have that conversation with your own child?
As a parent myself, I've definitely found myself in this situation - especially now that my oldest child is coming up to the teen years, and isn't necessarily wanting to open up to me about everything!
We are incredibly lucky at ReachOut to have a team of dedicated, passionate and generous young people who volunteer on our ReachOut Online Community, which is for young people aged 14-25. They provide peer support to the young people who visit the community, share their own lived experience and mental health journeys, and help young people feel supported and connected.
They've generously offered to answer any questions that parents and carers may have - so if you've ever wanted to hear from a young person, please feel free to add your question in our form below!
No question is too big or too small - anything from friendships, social media, and relationships, to school stress, mental health, and worries about the future. We would love to hear from you!
All questions will be responded to by our Online Community Volunteers- please make sure that you don't include any identifying information, and it's fine to submit questions anonymously.
We will aim to have our first response published by the end of November, and will post responses regularly.
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Today marks the first day of year 12 exams for students in NSW, and other states already have end of year exams underway.
It's been an especially challenging year for Year 12 2021, with the disruptions of COVID impacting their last 2 years of schooling. They've had to navigate learning from home, the loss of normal routines, and navigate the constant uncertainty of the last 2 years. We know that Year 12 students can feel a huge amount of pressure around achieving a certain result, especially if they're wanting to go on to further study.
ReachOut have developed a range of resources to help parents support their young people at exam time:
Helping your teen with study stress during coronavirus
Stories about what happens after high school
7 tips for managing exam stress
It can be really helpful for young people (and their parents and carers) to think more broadly about life after Year 12 results come out - and hear from other young people about the different paths they've taken after high school. A lot of young people may feel that their final result will determine the future path of their lives and careers- but in reality, there's often so many different pathways available, and "success" can mean many different things.
We recently had a discussion on our Online Community for Young people around redefining pathways to success, with two of ReachOut's Youth Ambassadors - as a parent myself, I found it really useful to hear young peoples' perspectives on what success looks like to them, and how they've navigated early adulthood.
If you think this might be helpful for young people in your life, you can read the full chat here.
Some key take aways from the discussion were the importance of self compassion, being open minded about the different paths you can take, and not comparing yourself to other people, or measuring yourself by other people's definition of success.
Some of our favourite quotes from the chat are below:
" work at your own pace. There is such pressure to study full time and work full time and for some, that’s totally achievable and that’s great. But for others there are too many other aspects of life they are trying to juggle and so some-times working part-time and studying part-time, or even just focusing on one of the other can be the way to go. Something I’ve learnt is not to compare yourself to others. Focus on what you can handle, and what is safest and most comfortable for you. I personally felt dropping back the hours I worked and studied was the best for me as it reduced my anxiety, and feelings of being overwhelmed.
Remember it’s a marathon not a sprint."
"But success and satisfaction are both in the eye of the beholder. You can be 100% satisfied with your life but not what others perceive as “successful” and you can also be thriving and unhappy. I think happiness is key. Life is long and full of hardship and I want to live my best life, even if others think I haven’t lived it to the status quo. For me travelling makes me the happiest. When I can do that again, that for me will be success and satisfaction!"
You both sound really successful! As someone who was really successful in school my mental health has made me go 'offtrack' in hitting a lot of life milestones 'in time'. Have you guys ever felt like this, or what do you think of the idea of life milestones in today's society?
For me I grew up feeling like life was prescribed for me - go to school, go to university, graduate, find a job, buy a house, find a partner etc.
What I realised since finishing high school is that there is no age or time you need to get anything done by. I am lucky to be in a job that gives me purpose, but I am still figuring things out for dating and relationships.
Everyone goes through life at their own speed and where you are in life right now is exactly where you are meant to be. Milestones are what you want them to be. You can achieve them at whatever time is right for you.
we all run our own race. I try to remind myself of this regularly. You are still achieving goals even if it looks different to others. Whilst I’m not yet in my career of choice, nor married, or whatever else people consider “successful” I have done a lot of mental health advocacy and overcome incredible mental health obstacles. I have travelled, am studying and I am where I need to be. Working on your mental health counts for a lot.
We are surrounded by constant posts of people doing, achieving, or talking about their “success”. It’s hard not compare yourself but I tend not buy into that so much. I have learnt that everyone goes through life at their own pace. There is no rush.
I aim to live my life the best way I can. I surround myself with family and friends that support and motivate me. In turn, I support my friends and family to succeed in whatever way they want to.
Success is what you make it out to be!
We would love to hear from you:
How are you and your young people coping with the end of year stress?
How has your young person navigated working out their plans for the future? Do they feel a lot of pressure around exams and school results?
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Just tagging some of our parents community who may be interested in this one: it's free to register and attend, the link is in the post below :)
@Birdwings @posimum06 @BeStrong @Pleasehelp101 @Vestaria @Uffers555 @rkt123 @Rissa @Ella21
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In Conversation with ReachOut: Managing teens’ study stress and caring for their wellbeing as a parent
We are really excited to present a new event this week: a live chat on LinkedIn, this Wednesday 20th October. We'd love to see you there- please feel free to share this event with anyone in your network who may be interested!
COVID-19 has impacted all of our lives and, in many cases, our wellbeing too. With disruption to daily routines, a shift to online learning for many and important milestones being missed, it has been a particularly challenging time for teenagers and their families. And, with many students preparing to return to face-to-face learning, many students across the country still have extra challenges to contend with this year. This is especially true for many Year 12 students who are already in exam mode or gearing up for their final exams.
How can parents help manage teens’ study stress and care for their wellbeing (and their own) in the lead up to exams?
Next Wednesday 20 October, ABC’s National Medical Reporter, Sophie Scott will be chatting with ReachOut’s Head of Service Delivery, Jackie Hallan and ReachOut’s Online Community Coordinator, Janine Nelson.This will be an intimate and insightful conversation about study stress, with a focus on Year 12 exams, the return to face-to-face learning and tips for parents.
We will discuss:
the impact of COVID-19 on teens’ education
the impact of study stress on the mental health and wellbeing of teens
transitioning back to face-to-face learning
setting your teen up for study success
practical strategies that can make a difference for teens and their parents.
When: Wednesday, 20 October 12:30pm-1:15pm Where: LinkedIn Cost: Free
Click here to register your interest:
About the guest speakers:
Sophie Scott is a parent and award-winning Australian medical reporter working for ABC TV, radio and online. Her books include Live a Longer Life and Roadtesting Happiness. Sophie is also an Associate Professor (Adjunct) at the University of Notre Dame Medical School, lecturing in health and science communication. You can read more about Sophie at www.sophiescott.com.au and follow her on LinkedIn and on Instagram at @sophiescott2
Jackie Hallan is a parent and the Head of Service Delivery at ReachOut Australia. Jackie leads a team of 15 that combine the evidence and research insights with subject matter expertise and empathy to bring the service to life. Jackie has 15 years’ experience in program management, health promotion and social marketing across cancer prevention and youth mental health. Janine Nelson is a parent and the Online Community Coordinator at ReachOut Australia. Janine works across ReachOut’s online peer support communities for young people aged 14-25, and parents and carers of young people. She has qualifications in psychology and health sciences, and has worked in mental health, disability, and community services for 15 years. Like many Australian parents, she also spent the last four months juggling working from home and supporting her teen daughter’s home learning.
We've also got a great collection of resources to help parents support their young people, whether they're about to sit their final exams, are struggling with home learning, or if they're experiencing mixed feelings about returning to school if you're in a state that's coming out of lockdown:
Surviving Online Learning: A Guide For Families
We hope you're all travelling well - and would love to see you on Wednesday!
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Hi @LadyM and @Roger .
We hear from a lot of parents who are worried about their young people at this age- you're definitely not alone, and it's really great to see that you've both been able to connect here.
The disruptions of COVID have also had a pretty huge impact on young people, especially when it comes to connecting with their friends online/ via their phones, rather than in person - and as a parent, it can be hard to know what behaviour is normal, teenage stuff- and what behaviour is something to be concerned about. I know that my daughter (who's 12, so just at the beginning of the teen rollercoaster!) has definitely been spending more time in her room lately, and more time on screens than we used to be comfortable with - we're currently in lockdown, so part of that is unavoidable.
To some extent, it's quite normal for young people to want to connect with their friendship group, rather than their parents, as they move through adolescence- but it's also important for parents to know what behaviours might be a sign that something's not going so well with their mental health.
In general, if you see a sudden change in your child's behaviour, or they stop doing activities that used to bring them joy, if they have trouble sleeping or are suddenly sleeping much more than normal, or if your gut feeling is that something just isn't "right" with them- it may be time to have a chat with them to see if they are OK. As a parent, you know your child best- though I also definitely acknowledge that it's sometimes also really hard to know what is regular teenage moodiness, and what is a sign of something more !
We do hear this question a lot from parents, and we've worked with psychologists as well as parents to develop a few guides to help parents:
This video is with a psychologist who talks about how to know when your teen needs professional help
This quiz helps parents to work out what type of help might be the best fit for you and your teen
And this is a list of other articles and resources all about how to get teens help, if they do need it
I hope that some of those are helpful for you both- I know that those conversations can also be really tricky to have! Some great advice another parent gave me once was to have those chats while you're doing something with your teen- and I know it's worked really well for me. I find my daughter is much more likely to open up to me when we're doing something together, like going for a drive, having a walk, or even doing the washing up- for some reason it feels much less pressured/ forced.
Wishing you both the best- keep us posted about how you and your daughters are getting on. It can definitely help to vent sometimes- you're not alone, and this is a really safe place to vent/ get advice :)
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Hi @phoneagent007 , @Lightbulb and @Cocoarrarra ,
We're so glad to have you here on our forums, it can feel incredibly isolating when your kids are struggling - @Cocoarrarra we are so sorry to hear that your teen has been having such a tough time, and I hope that you can see from the responses here that you're not alone, and you are absolutely not a lousy parent.
I can hear from your post how much you love your daughter, it must have felt really confronting and frightening to find out that she had been self harming and experiencing thoughts of suicide, as well as having OCD and anxiety. Self harm is something that's often really secretive, and a lot of young people we support describe feelings of shame around having self harmed- and many of them do hide it from their families in particular. It's often something that becomes a coping mechanism that's then really hard to stop, but it sounds like you've done a wonderful job in making sure your daughter is linked in with the right levels of professional supports.
If you're interested in reading a bit more about self harm, we have some resources here on our ReachOut Parents page:
Self Harm and Teenagers
Things to try: managing self-harm
As @Lightbulb has said, you're absolutely not alone, and it doesn't mean you're a bad parent. I know that as a parent myself, there's a natural tendency to blame ourselves or wonder what we could have done differently - especially with mental health issues, but @Lightbulb said it perfectly- all we can do is our best. I know that I am always trying to learn more about parenting, but I also know that there's no such thing as a perfect parent. All we can do is the best we can, and look for support when we need it- exactly like you've done by posting here
@Cocoarrarra I did also want to mention that we do offer a one to one parents coaching service, which may be helpful for you, especially in terms of workshopping ways to help to support your other two kids, and also give you a sounding board to help you through this challenging time. It's a free service and delivered online or over the phone, you can read more about that here if you are interested:
@Lightbulb I wanted to thank you so much for sharing your experiences here as well. It sounds like you and your daughters have been through a lot in the few years, and I'm so sorry that your younger daughter has experienced so much. It sounds like you've done the absolute best you can to navigate the system and find her the right level of support- it must have been incredibly hard to get to the point where she could no longer stay safe in your home. I love your advice around being supportive and non judgemental, even when it's really hard- I'm wondering if you've been able to get much support to help you through everything you've been through?
@Cocoarrarra I think a lot of parents can relate to your concerns about social media- on one hand, it can be a really important way for young people to connect with each other, but there's also a lot of downsides there too- I don't know if your daughter would be interested in this, but we do have a professionally moderated, anonymous Online Community for young people to connect and find support around all things mental health, in a space that is much safer and designed to give the benefits of that peer support, in a much more safe environment.
That's probably enough from me! I hope that it's been helpful for you both to connect here, please keep us posted with how you're all travelling- you're definitely not alone, and this is a really safe space to vent if you need to.
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Thanks so much for this post @Bre-RO - it's a topic very close to my heart- I spent the first 4 years of my oldest child's life as a sole parent, and then have been in a blended family for 8 years.
I can honestly say it's been both the most wonderful and most challenging thing I've ever done. It's taken a lot of honest, open communication from all of us- my partner, my daughter, and myself- and we've made heaps of mistakes along the way. Step parents are a very special breed of human in my books- and my husband and daughter have a really special relationship now.
The biggest challenges for us along the way were me learning to co-parent - I'd been the only one calling the shots for a long time, and it took me a long time to adjust to having another adult in the picture! DIscipline, conflict resolution, and when to step in (vs when to step back) were all really challenging issues for all of us- and it's been a constant and evolving process for all of us.
It was also really hard for me to find a 'safe' space to talk through these issues, especially as my daughter's now hit the tween/teen years, and I don't talk about her as much on social media etc any more out of respect for her privacy. I know I've really valued learning from other people who've been there- my husband was raised in a blended family himself, and I've always loved chatting to his stepmom about how she found that whole journey.
I'm just going to tag some people who've been active in the community recently around blended families- we'd love to hear from you, and this is a safe, anonymous space if you ever want to vent/ chat/ share your experiences
@Ap2021 @Noname1 @Coops @Giffordm @FlorenceSierra @Adelaide123 @sparkles21
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Hi @courtneylage ,
Thanks so much for sharing your powerful words here- I just wanted to let you know that I made a small edit to remove your name, just to keep your post in line with our community guidelines around staying anonymous
As a parent myself, (who also raised my first child alone for the first 4 years of her life) I can't even begin to imagine what you and your children have been through over the last 8 or more years.
It sounds like you have been able to use your lived experience in a really purposeful way through your work with other families and in your advocacy work , and I'm sure that you will change many lives for the better through your work. Are you and your family still getting support with your c-PTSD?
Do you mind if I ask what you found helpful in your own recovery journey? I know we have a lot of other parents reading who may also be recovering from complex trauma, and hearing from people who've walked the same path is really powerful.
Thank you so much for sharing your story here, wishing you and your family all the very best
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Hi @DayByDay ,
Welcome to the parents online community- we're really glad you found our space. I have to say that I could relate to so much of what you wrote about here- both as a a parent to an almost-teenager who has some similar challenges , and as someone who was recently diagnosed with ADHD as an adult myself.
Reading your post, I can hear how much you love your daughter, and also that you're experiencing feelings of guilt- and it also sounds like things have been pretty complicated for you and your family, between lockdown, a new ADHD diagnosis for your daughter, the challenges that come with learning from home, and issues with her adjusting to a new school/ meeting a new boyfriend, and pushing boundaries at home. It sounds like it must be a really exhausting and challenging time for you all- any one of those things would be a lot to cope with, let alone all of them at once!
I'm wondering if your daughter's treating doctor/ therapist gave you all much information about ADHD, and how it can present in females in particular? I know that for me, learning more about ADHD and how it affects our brains, was something that I found really empowering, and it also gave me some very practical strategies that I've found helpful both in my own life, and also helping to support and scaffold my daughter. You may already be aware of this- but your daughter definitely isn't alone in receiving an ADHD diagnosis in the last year or so. There's a of girls and women (including myself!) who had never even considered that they may have ADHD, but the uniquely challenging time of the pandemic was a 'perfect storm' for a lot of people, and what you described about your daughter's struggles with homeschooling really resonated with me.
Simply put, a lot of girls with ADHD slip under the radar in terms of diagnosis, especially if they seem to cope fairly well with school / the demands of life.
For many of us, struggles with executive function (things like starting new tasks, staying organised, and planning tasks), impulsivity, and being easily distracted (especially by things like phones/games/ social media) were things that had always existed- one you add in stress, uncertainty, and the loss of our usual structures and routines that came from COVID, a lot of women hit a point where they couldn't cope any more- and realised that they had been living with undiagnosed ADHD for years.
I found this article to be really insightful and thought you may find it helpful: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/nov/02/the-lost-girls-chaotic-and-curious-women-with-adhd-all-have-missed-red-flags-that-haunt-us
You mentioned that she did trial medication at one point, but then you moved states- do you think that it's something she may be open to trying again? We can't give medical advice here, but I know that a lot of people do find that the right combination of medication and support from a mental health professional with other strategies like journalling /using planners/ different time management strategies can be helpful.
We also have a resource here with some really practical ways to help manage distractions if you think that may be useful - it's definitely an issue we hear about a lot!
I know that exercise and meditation have also been really helpful for me personally.
It sounds like you're doing a great job in keeping the lines of communication open with your daughter while still setting boundaries with her- we have some resources that might be helpful for you to have a look at here around managing conflict and setting boundaries with teens
In terms of your questions - it sounds like there's been so many changes for your daughter to navigate recently, and I'm wondering if she is still seeing a psychologist or counsellor at all? It may be helpful to have the support of a mental health professional to help you to work through some of these questions, especially around her medication - and it may well be the case that once she's settled into the new environment, she may have the headspace to consider whether or not this school is the right environment for her, and also start to implement some more strategies to help her in her dat to day life
I hope that some of this is helpful- it sounds like it's been such a challenging time for you. Do you have anyone you can lean on for support at the moment- friends, a counsellor, family members? We are always here to chat as well - sometimes it can help a lot to vent, and this is a safe space to do that
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Oh gosh @Philippa-RO - I can really relate to what you've articulated there about the sadness we're feeling for our kids- I feel that very deeply some days. I know that we are trying to do the best we can, but there's no escaping the fact that they are experiencing a real sense of grief and loss over the things they're missing out on, that we can't fix for them. I love what you say about learning to just sit with them; I think that as parents we sometimes want to fix problems and make the pain go away - but actually, there's a real power in teaching our kids that sometimes we do need to go through hard things.
I had this exact conversation with my daughter earlier this week - and I realised that she was getting more upset if I tried to look for silver linings, or come up with distractions- in that moment, she wanted me to acknowledge her pain, and sit with her through it
I know that we'll get through this - but some days are bloody hard!
I love what you say about self care- I've also been watching some super trashy TV instead of my usual documentaries/ crime dramas- sometimes you need the TV equivalent of a fluffy blanket at the end of a rough day :)
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Just tagging some parents who've been active recently around these issues - we hope you are all travelling well - this is a safe space to vent if you need to, or share what's been helping you and your young people
@Birdwings @Faob_1 @Abby91 @buyamardeep @ShayHay25 @Shoneonme @chichi
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Hello lovely parents and carers,
I think we can safely say that 2021 continues to throw us curve balls that we weren't necessarily prepared for, especially if you're in a part of Australia that's currently living through extended lockdowns.
I know that for my family, the last few weeks have felt especially tough. We've now been in lockdown for around 11 weeks- so we're all somewhat adjusting to the rhythm of working from home, doing home learning for our tween, and trying to find moments of joy and fun in what can be a pretty monotonous time.
There's been times when we are all doing fairly well- we've discovered some wonderful bushwalks in our bubble, have been doing lots of cooking, and spending time in the garden.
But there's other time when we are all struggling.
For our young person, there's a real sense of grief over missing the milestones and rites of passage that won't be able to be marked in the usual way this year- it's our tween's last year of primary school, so things like school camp, school representative sport, and end of year celebrations are now either cancelled or looking very uncertain.
It's also important to acknowledge that everyone's experience is different, for a variety of reasons. I've heard people using this metaphor, and it really resonated with me- we are all in the same storm, with factors completely outside our control changing the way we live our lives. But we are all in different boats.
So, with that in mind, we wanted to create a safe space for parents and carers to chat and connect, and share what's happening for you at the moment.
For parents with young people who are in Year 12, it's an especially challenging time- we're hearing from young people that a lot of them are feeling scared and uncertain about the future, and frustrated that all of their hard work for their final year of school is being done with ever-changing goal posts. But we're also hearing stories of amazing strength and resilience from young people - we recently held this discussion about uncertainty and the future on our Youth Forums with some amazing young people, which I found incredibly inspiring to read. If there's a young person in your life who may like to read it, they can see the whole discussion here:
AMAA: Redefining pathways to success
We also have some great resources on our ReachOut Parents page:
What to do if your teen is stressed about the future
Video: How Jane supported Georgia through year 12 during COVID
We'd also love to hear from you: how are your young people travelling? Is there anything you're finding helpful at the moment? How are you feeling about the rest of 2021?
Finally, we also wanted to acknowledge something that we don't always talk about: parental burnout.
I know that for me, 2021 has felt like a marathon. Most days I'm feeling OK, but I also often have moments some weeks where I'm exhausted, irritable, overwhelmed, and thoroughly sick of being at home with my family 24/7!
Burnout is something that we talk about fairly regularly in the field of mental health- however it's only more recently that we've seen more discussion of how burnout can affect parents in particular- especially given the multiple types of stressors we are all dealing with in COVID times.
Sophie Scott kindly gave permission for us to share these images, and I have found her writing and speaking on parental burnout really insightful
We also have some great resources on ReachOut Parents all about how to maintain your own wellbeing during coronavirus
I know that I have found building in routines for self care incredibly important for my own wellbeing, and by extension, the wellbeing of my family - it's all about finding what fills your own cup
(Image credit: https://www.ccrconsulting.org/community/self-care-during-covid-19)
We would love to hear how you are travelling: is there anything that's helping you to fill your own cup?
We would love this to be a space where parents feel safe to talk about whatever they're experiencing at the moment, from the silver linings, to the moments where it's all a slog. Please feel free to share anything you would like in this space- sometimes even sharing what's happening with a group of (virtual) strangers can help to ease the burden a lot, especially when so many of us are parenting without our usual villages
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Hi @Birdwings ,
It's really nice to see your name pop up again here, but I'm so sorry to hear that things have been rough for your lovely girl.
I wanted to share a bit of personal experience here as a fellow parent of a child with complex health needs, because I can truly say that I do know how stressful it can be when there's a lot of health issues at play, especially when it ends in hopsitalisation - that was also my family's journey, but my daughter's issues are now well managed, and she's thankfully not had any really acute issues in the last 5 years.
My daughter also has anaphlactic allergies, along with a range of other chronic conditions (which happens to include a rare GI condition, which is related to her allergies) . So we've also been through that exhausting and stressful experience of finding the right specialists, then having a lot of testing done to unpack exactly what was going on. Without going into too much detail, it's involved a lot of procedures in hospital, a few surgeries, and a lot of trial and error with diet and medication. .
The reason I wanted to share that with you, is to let you know that I think you are doing a truly amazing job in supporting your daughter, in very, very challenging circumstances. COVID also means that people with underlying health issues are experiencing additional challenges- whether that be being anxious about their personal risk and exposure, changes to normal medical appointments, and managing health challenges at a time when a lot of the 'normal' coping mechanism that may help us aren't available.
In terms of helping to cope with lockdown - we do have a space for parents to chat and connect around those challenges here. What we're hearing from parents right now (and what I'm finding in my own household) is that it's really a 'one day at a time' feeling at the moment, because so much of the bigger picture is outside of our control. We also have a space to chat more specifically about home schooling - it's definitely something that is a huge change for most families, especially when we are also balancing working from home, and the grief that comes with losing so many of the social activities and brought us joy and connection.
In my case, we've actually relaxed some of our usual screen time rules, so that my daughter can connect with her friends more online. Roblox , houseparty, and FaceTime are all popular at the moment, and she's often chatting away with her best friend as they complete their school work. We've built regular walks together into our usual daily routine, sometimes I will shamelessly bribe her with a takeaway hot chocolate.
Does your daughter have any outdoor activities that bring her joy? We're finding activities like bushwalks, walks around our neighbourhood, and even silly things like making videos to send to family overseas to be really quite lovely.
I have also found it helpful to connect with other parents and young people living with chronic illnesses. ASCIA is the peak body for allergies in Australia, and they are a wealth of knowledge- their social media pages are also a good way to connect with people who 'get it'.
They also offer really helpful, practical advice, around managing life as someone with serious allergies. It made me feel less alone as a parent, and also helped me to empower my daughter in practical ways- for example, she has a well practiced routine of having her action plan/ EpiPen/ other meds in a little bag with her that she takes everywhere, we chose a nice bag together that doesn't look 'medical' which helped!
@Birdwings I also wanted to check in with you- how are you feeling in such a challenging time? I know that as a parent, I'm really aware of the risk I run of burning the candle at both ends - when I'm trying to support my family, do my best at work, and also cope with the changes that's come with covid and the lockdown. I'm glad that you've been able to come here and share a bit about what's happening - we are here to support you however we can
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Hi @Ap2021 ,
I hope you don't mind me popping on to your thread as well- I have to say, reading your post felt so familiar to me. I'm also a parent in a blended family, and I can honestly say that I could have written this post almost word for word myself a year or so ago.
Everyone's story is different, but I will say that we do hear a lot from people struggling to navigate the complex dynamics of a blended family here. In my case, it was just myself and my daughter for the first 4 years of her life. So we were very much a famliy of two (though I have a very supportive extended family and friends)- when I met my now-husband, it was a huge step for me to even introduce her to someone new.
For us, transitioning to becoming a true blended family was something that took a really long time, and involved a lot of difficult conversations, some tears, a lot of misunderstandings, and it's something that's only really become a smoother journey in the last few years.
Like you, I found it really hard when there was conflict between my child and my partner- I would often want to step in and play the mediator, but that would then cause other problems!
It took me a long time to allow their relationship to unfold naturally, and two things helped us a lot. One was getting professional support from Relationships Australia. The second was trying to be really, really kind and compassionate- both to myself, and towards my partner and my child. Sometimes I do this well, sometimes I don't, but I think it's really valid to feel a lot of really mixed emotions around this stuff. Sometimes I was exhausted by the fighting, sometimes I would be exhausted by trying to come up with fun activities for us to to, but it's only now that things have improved that I can see that we also all needed a lot of time and patience to find our feet.
I'm also wondering if you know any other people in blended families? Sometimes it can really help to hear from other people in the same boat as you- I've learned a lot from other single parents along the way. If it would be helpful, I'd be happy to have a look at some groups that may be suitable for you, and we also have a single parents space on our forums :)
I hope that sharing your story here has helped a bit, we're always here to chat, and it's a very non-judgmental, safe space to share what's going on for you and your family.
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Hi @Mv161705 ,
I was just reading through your thread, and wanted to check in and see how you, and your family, are travelling?
It can be so hard as a parent when our child is struggling, no matter how old they are. This post really resonated with me on a personal level - I have two kids myself, and I also had some tough years myself in my late teens/ early twenties, where I struggled hugely with anxiety.
I'm hearing how much you love your son, and I imagine it must be so hard not knowing how to help him, or what you can do to help him through this very difficult season.
I'm curious, you mention he's had help from different services before and also uses other substances to help (if you're referring to marijuana, that's definitely something that's pretty common , and is often a form of self medicating).
Has he ever had help from someone who works in vocational counselling/ rehabiliation counselling at all, or from a professional like an Occupational Therapist?
A skilled mental health OT can be a really useful part of someone's recovery journey- along with career counselling, if he's feeling a bit lost about the future in general.
We've also got a resource which may be helpful on our ReachOut Parents page, which looks at a lot of different options that are out there, for when someone's already had a bit of professional help, but is still struggling to find a path forward. It was written by an experienced clinical psychologist, and has some great tips and services that may be helpful for you:
My teen's professional help didn't work- what next?
You mention that your son's really stressed about his future- and that's something we do hear quite a lot from young people, especially in the last year or so. It's a really stressful, uncertain, and frightening time for a lot of young people who are just embarking on adult life- we have some great resources on our ReachOut Youth page that may be helpful here;
How to handle fear about the future: a guide
How to mostly stop worrying about the future of work
It can be incredibly difficult as a parent when your child isn't going so well, and I know that in my life, the most stressful seasons for me have been when one of my children has been really unwell. I'm wondering if you have people in your life who are able to support you as you help to support your son? The analogy of 'putting your oxygen mask on first' is one that can sometimes be over used, but I'm a huge believer in trying to prioritise self care. Sometimes it's as simple as making time to have a cup of tea, or going for a walk while I chat to a friend on the phone - but it definitely helps to 'fill my own cup'.
Hope your week is going OK @Mv161705 - hope that some of this is helpful
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Hi @Perth1993 ,
It sounds like it's been a tough few years for you, I can definitely relate - I spent 4 years as a sole parent as well. Going through a separation is so rough, especially when there's kids involved , and you're also having to deal with the messy financial side of things.
Financial advice isn't our area of specific expertise, but I'm sure a lot of people here may be able to relate to the stress of having to financially rebuild at the same time as rebuilding other areas of your life, and juggling the challenges that come with being single parent/ co-parenting. I can definitely recommend having a look at some free budgeting tools, and seeing a financial counsellor can also be a great way to start feeling more in control of your financial life/ future after a separation.
We have a great list here of support services for single parents: , everything from practical support to specific services in your area.
In that list there's a few free apps that could be useful for you in helping you to start getting your head around rebuilding your finances-
This budgeting app syncs with your bank account and automatically organises your spending into categories, showing you where you spend your money. It’s like a personal assistant for your money. You’ll also get notifications for when bills are due – never cop a late fee again!
Free on iPhone and Android.
This groceries app lets you make shopping lists – you can add details like quantities needed and your own photos (so you remember which brand you like using). You can make multiple lists for events, and users can sync their lists so everyone is involved with the planning.
Free on iPhone and Android.
Supercook is a recipe service available online and as an app. You can search recipes by what ingredients you already have at home, so it’s a useful tool for when you don’t manage to visit the shops and want to throw together a quick meal.
Free on iPhone and Android.
This is a shared calendar and organising app. It can be useful for keeping track of everyone’s events and activities, and has inbuilt grocery and recipe plans. It can also be a good way to share schedules if you have a co-parenting arrangement.
Free on iPhone and Android.
For me personally, sticking to a budget and minimising debt were so helpful when I was a sole parent of a young child - simple things like not having a credit card (if that's possible for you), being frugal when grocery shopping, and buying second hand when possible are all small changes you can make that really do add up in the long term.
With buying a car, chatting to your bank could also be a good idea- they can often give really good advice for your situation.
Do you mind if I ask if you've finalised the financial aspects of your separation yet? That can be super stressful (not to mention expensive) - I can point you towards some services that can offer support in this area if that would be helpful.
Apart from the financial pressures, how are you finding single parent life? It's a big change- we're glad you could come here to chat about what's been happening for you. Do you have people in your life to lean on for support on the tough days?
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Checking in from Day 1 of home learning!
So far, it's overall been a more positive experience in my household, compared to 2020. It's not a walk in the park, but I feel like we've all slipped back into the groove a bit better than last time.
Teachers are the absolute unsung heroes of this pandemic in my humble opinion (and if you're also a teacher, do check out ReachOut Schools here!)
Our teachers have gone above and beyond in the last week, and the process has been far less stressful than it was last time. We use a few different platforms and apps, which is less painful this time because it's more familiar for my young person.
In our case, my daughter likes to have some idea what to expect each week- so her anxiety has lifted a lot now that she has her work for the week, and I can hear her chatting online with her best friend as they work together.
I'm also just going to tag a few people who may be in the same boat and have posted recently about their school aged young person, and @Philippa-RO is also a fellow working parent with kids at home.
@Birdwings @Claire123 @ToriH @Hopesprings123 @charliebear @KaseyBear @Jojo_123 @maybe @sidneysdad @compassion @Toz1972
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Hello parents and carers,
2021 continues to bring ups and downs for our parents community, and we know that a number of parents and carers today will be adjusting to the news that schools will be returning to learning from home for the first week of Term 3.
Learning from home/ home schooling/ remote learning:
As a parent myself, I can definitely say this was one of the biggest challenges for myself and my family in 2020. We have been reflecting on the lessons we learned then- and ReachOut have developed a range of resources to help support parents and carers of young people.
Every family, and every young person, is different. My young person enjoyed some aspects of home based learning - she enjoyed having more autonomy over her time, "not being around the loud kids who always get into trouble", and found a nice routine where she would work with her best friend via zoom.
That being said, we also know that some parents did it really tough - especially people who experienced long lockdowns, young people in year 12, and kids with additional support needs.
Firstly- we thought it was important to acknowledge the unsung heroes of this pandemic - our wonderful teachers, support staff, SLSOs, and everyone else involved in the mammoth task of educating our children.
Teachers are the absolute unsung heroes of this pandemic in my humble opinion (and if you're also a teacher, do check out ReachOut Schools here!)
Our teachers have gone above and beyond in the last week, and the process has been far less stressful than it was last time. If you're a teacher reading this:
So - here's some material we've created to help support people in a range of situations:
1. Routine: Creating a "new normal" routine was huge for our family - for us, it includes going for a walk together before we all start work for the day, and meeting for a tea break in the afternoon.
Help your teen stick to a routine during COVID-19
2. Motivation: There were some days where we all struggled with our motivation - and I reflected that if I, as an adult, was struggling sometimes, it was no wonder that some days my oldest child didn't want to get off the couch!
We also wanted to acknowledge that sometimes, a doona day is totally valid self care, for adults and teens alike.
Read about motivating your teen when school is the last thing on their mind here
3. Handling stress about the future: I know that my young person is getting really anxious about what the future looks like at the moment- the uncertainty is so hard. We have heard this from a lot of other parents- when you're just starting out your adult life, it can be really rough not knowing what work, study, or travel opportunities will be available in the future
This article is all about what to do if your teen is stressed about the future
Finally, we've got some really practical tools to help young people figure out how to study in such uncertain and weird times:
4. Coping with study stress:
Stressed about study during coronavirus?
If school life is overwhelming right now, you're not alone. View our collection of study stress resources to help you get through the disruptions of covid.
5. Working out your at home study style:
This is a fun quiz, which helps young people (and adults!) get insight into their own learning style, and what strategies might be helpful for them.
Quiz: What's your at-home study style?
Most importantly- we wanted to let parents and carers know that it's so valid, and completely OK, to be experiencing a range of emotions at the moment. You may be angry, frustrated, stressed, or totally over it! Or, you may be totally fine.
This is a safe space to chat, share what's working for you, and know that you're not alone if the home learning road is a bit rocky.
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Thanks so much for your kind words @ToriH , and welcome to our community.
I'm loving your tips- my mum always wrote things down, and I use both an app to track my to-do list, and also write things on a notebook. Love the satisfaction of crossing off something - even if it's just "fed my children"
The music comment really resonated with me as well - I've been listening to a lot of music lately, both while I'm walking, and as background while I'm working (I can't concentrate in dead silence, and am now back to sharing a home office with a spouse) - I've been loving the Hamilton Mixtape, rediscovering music I loved from the 2000s, and have curated a classical music playlist for deep concentration. I've always been a music lover, and I've found it super helpful when things are tough.
I also love live music/ theatre, so listening to talented people perform reminds me that there are brighter times ahead :)
I'm also just going to tag in some of our members who've been active lately - would love to hear how you're going, and what's been working for you in these strange times
Sending all of our best wishes to you all - lockdown can be just another thing to add to a stressful situation, if your young person's already having a rough time. This is a safe space to vent, or share, any time.
@Birdwings @sidneysdad @Casdog @Kathryn_Mac43 @Toz1972 @Uffers555 @Ousais @Collyflower89 @kaiso @sailonbluesea @Trackle @Argie1234 @lisaf90 @Overwhelmedmum
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Hello parents and carers:
It's safe to say that 2021 isn't exactly a smooth ride so far. Dealing with the uncertainty of new covid outbreaks, as well as the many logistical spanners in the works, can be super stressful for everyone involved.
Speaking as a parent of two kids myself, I will be very honest and say that spending winter holidays in lockdown wasn't quite what we had in mind, to recharge halfway through the year!
There's been a lot of coverage in the media lately about mental health, young people, and the impact of covid on all of those things - but we also know that parents have a huge role to play here, both in helping their young people to build their toolkit of coping skills, and also in terms of looking after YOU. In my family, I always notice that things tend to get a bit rocky when I'm really stressed. So for me, I have to look after myself, even when that feels like just another item on an overflowing to do list.
So with that in mind, we wanted to share 5 tips for parents who are navigating these uncertain times.
1. Put on your own oxygen mask first - whatever that looks like for you.
I have had to make self care a HUGE priority this lockdown- to be really honest, one of my biggest worries has been burning out myself. Between working from home (again!), school holiday plans suddenly being cancelled, and suddenly having a tween and young kid at home, my candle was burning at both ends.
For me, self care looks like going for long walks while I listen to podcasts, going to bed early when I'm exhausted, mindfulness meditation, and connecting with friends when I need to vent/cry/laugh.
2. Go with the flow- and take things one day at a time
This one has been a game changer for me- I'm usually a planner in our family. But right now, we are taking life one day at a time. I'm saying yes to more random things, letting my kids take the lead when possible in what they want to do, and trying to stay focused on the present.
3. Explore your local area, and find a new routine
We hear from young people that it's often the loss of the mundane things that start to really add to that sense that life is just dragging on - without the rhythm of normal activities, a week can suddenly feel like a long time.
We've found that building new routines into our lockdown life has been really helpful - for example, my daughter and I often go for a walk before I start work, and pick up a takeaway coffee together. It means she gets outside, and we get to chat about silly stuff.
Exercise can be another great way to have some routine in your life- plus it boosts those endorphins, gives you a legitimate reason to leave the house, and is proven to help with mild depression/anxiety. All good things!
We have a great article about how to help your family stick to a routine during covid here
4. Embrace a doona day when you need it
The flip side of this - is that sometimes, it is totally OK for everyone to do absolutely nothing, if that's what is needed. Rest is important, especially when we've been under sustained stress.
In my family, this looks like a lazy dinner/ takeaway, and reading/ watching movies/ lazing around doing nothing
5. Connect with other people - in whatever way works for you.
We aren't meant to parent alone - it's a cliche now, but there's a lot to be said for having a village. That can mean calling trusted friends, or coming to an online community like this one, or going for a socially distanced walk with a neighbour.
For me- that sometimes is as simple as sharing a meme with a friend over WhatsApp, or having a quick chat with my mum over zoom as i cook dinner.
And if you're struggling - don't hesitate to use professional help. There's a lot of different options out there, and you can check out some of those here , or click here for urgent help if you feel like you or your young person need it.
6. Check out ReachOut Parents page here!
If you're someone who likes to read/ watch videos/ hear from experts, we have a lot of different resources that you can check out- everything from articles, to practical tools to help you and your young person through these uncertain times.
Supporting your teen through coronavirus
It's also worth saying that there is no one size fits all solution, and we would love to hear from parents and carers here too: what's been working for you?
Did you learn any lessons from previous lockdowns, that are helping you out now?
It would be great to hear you all, that way this can also be a bit of a resource for other parents.
Sending virtual strength and solidarity all!
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Hi @Argie1234 ,
We definitely hear a lot from parents who are concerned about their teens' social media use, and it's something that can be even tricker to navigate when you're co-parenting with an ex.
In terms of the law, a lot of these issues are a bit of a grey area, and they also vary from state to state in Australia in some cases. In terms of your son's legal status- in Australia, you become an adult legally at 18, however it's recognised that young people aged 16-18 in particular will have more rights than younger kids.
I'm wondering if you and your ex have a parenting agreement, or if you've ever had mediation together at all? A lot of separated parents find that a parenting agreement can be useful in helping to manage differences in opinions like the one you're describing here. It's also pretty common for young people to have one set of rules for mum's house, and one set of rules for dad's house- that can be quite normal and appropriate, but it can also be incredibly tricky to navigate for everyone involved.
We hear from a lot of parents who are confused/ uncertain/ worried about social media, phones and their young people - we are actually taking part in a free webinar with a range of experts on this issue tomorrow - this could be a really good opportunity for you to get some input from various experts on these questions. If you're interested, you can find more about that here. It's free to register, and will also be recorded:
Keeping up with teen tech
With your son and the doctor, it looks like you're in WA, is that right?
This article gives a good outline of the different considerations with confidentiality and young people - basically, a lot of this is also in your son's control. Sometimes young people may want to talk about a sensitive subject that they may not want their parents to know about, but in some cases they will need and want their parents' support.
How does your son feel about these issues? This age can be so tricky!
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Just popping in to tag some parents who have posted recently about similar topics and may be interested in this event, please do feel free to share this with any friends or family who may like to attend as well :)
@Birdwings @Mama-S @Midwestmom @TRIPLEP13 @Informational @Boring_Old_Dad @footy @Nanna1925 @Bacardi @Holly_p @demelza @Gwinny @Jessr21 @Canada1970 @Skyisblue @muhammadblibla @fallingapart @VeryConfused @LJmumof3 @Goneforawalk @Swolfy @meggymoo14 @hawkfan
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Hello parents and carers,
We are delighted to announce an exciting webinar, that is available free of charge next week.
How to keep up with your teens online
Our own Annie Wylie will be representing ReachOut- here's a bit more about this very exciting, free event! I will be attending with my parent hat on - my daughter is now 12, and is definitely in the age group where I am extremely mindful of her social media use, what apps are appropriate, and constantly having to re-negotiate boundaries along with my husband- around what she's allowed to have on her phone, time limits, amount of scrutiny, and what apps are an absolute no go.
I work in the digital mental health space, and I still sometimes find it overwhelming! Here's some more details about the event, and if you click through on the top link you can find out all about the wonderful panel.
It goes without saying that it’s easier to keep up to speed with what teenagers are doing IRL than on the internet. If IRL (internet slang for ‘in real life’) left you scratching your head, you aren’t alone.
Our latest research found one-in-three Australians don’t feel they can keep up with or understand the latest online and social media trends popular with teens.
Not only are Aussies finding it hard to keep up, but 43% of parents of 8-15 year olds also don’t feel strongly confident having conversations with their children around setting boundaries for tech and social media use.
Having “the talk” with your kids these days is more than it used to be. You used to be have hours of child-friendly, regulated content to entertain your kids after school. But in the age of devices, parents can no longer be laissez-faire about the digital habits of their kids.
To help parents who feel like they’re falling behind get up to speed with the latest social media and tech trends tweens and teens are following, we are bringing together a panel of experts to share their knowledge in a free webinar, ‘Keeping Up With Teen Tech’.
Hosted by Em Rusciano, the virtual event is for any parent that has ever wondered:
Why is my 15-year-old drinking lettuce water?
What on earth is a FYP?
Surely watching a gamer playing a game is not as enjoyable as playing the game, right?
Our panellists will explore everything from the social platforms every parent should know about, to what’s #trending and tips on how to set boundaries and navigate conversations about online behaviour.
We want to make Aussie parents feel empowered and educated to ask the right questions and have the conversations they need to be having in 2021.
Everyone is invited to join the conversation on June 22nd at 7pm AEST as Em Rusciano talks with Social Media Expert Grace Watkins, Aussie TikTok sensation Scott Boersen, Telstra cyber safety pro Darren Pauli, and ReachOut Parents’ Annie Wylie as they discuss and explore the ever-developing world of social platforms and tech for teens.
We will run a live Q&A chat on the night, so save your questions for Em or any of the experts and register to attend. Best of all, it’s free !
I will tag some parents who may be interested below - and we we would love to continue the conversation here!
It's something that is often on my mind, I grew up without smartphones and social media, and it's an area of parenting a tween that is particularly challenging for me.
Hope to 'see' some of you there next week!
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Hi Jurluk, thank you for sharing what is going on for you and your daughter. I’m sorry to hear your daughter attempted suicide. It must have been so painful to watch her go through that.
I’m happy to hear she is getting the support and medication to carry her after the hard time she has had. Do you have a support network around you at the moment? Friends, family or even a psychologist?
In regards to the school refusal, as stressful as it is, it is something a lot of parents are chatting about at the moment. We actually have a bunch of other parents chatting about it on this thread here. You are so welcome to join the discussion if you feel called to.
You may have already tried this but I’m wondering if there is any support/advocacy your daughter's psychologist can provide to the school. It must be frustrating that they are taking a hard approach.
The last two years of school are stressful at the best of times, it would be great if the school could get on board with supporting your daughter to get to the finish line.
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Hi @Helplessmum ,
Firstly, I'm so sorry that you're carrying so much pain and stress, I'm also a mum of 2 kids, and feeling helpless is a terrible feeling.
Reading your post, I'm struck by how much you clearly adore your daughter, and how much you genuinely want the best for her. It's clear that she trusts you with intimate details of her life (a lot of sex workers will often keep their profession secret from their parents in particular), and though I can imagine it would be very confronting to hear about her chosen job, I think it's huge that she trusts you enough to tell you that.
I can imagine it would feel pretty frightening to know that your daughter is working as a sex worker - is it ok if I ask what it is specifically that's concerning you? My understanding (which is based on having read a few memoirs of sex workers as part of my university studies, as well as studying some areas of this more generally from a public health standpoint), is that there's a huge range of sex workers. Some will live very risky lives, for example if there's drug misuse involved, or they're working 'on the streets'. Some will be treated as professionals, in some cases they may earn good money, have health care included, safety checks, and compulsory use of protection, for example.
Has your daughter told you why she's decided on sex work, and have you had the chance to talk to her about the concerns you may have?
I'm also hearing that she seems to be struggling with day to day life (for example sleeping a lot of the day), which I suppose could also be to do with the fact that sex work is also essentially shift work... are you concerned about her mental health more generally?
I'm just going to link a few articles we have about mental health and young people, especially what we as parents can do when they don't want to seek help. We also have an article about risky behaviour, which may also be relevant if she's engaging in risky activities like having unprotected sex.
RIsk taking and young people
What to do if your young person doesn't want help.
Finally I wanted to acknowledge that everyone's moral compass/ moral code is different. Especially when it comes to sex work - and I will be really honest, and say that even though I personally believe that women have the right to work in their chosen profession, I would also be deeply concerned if my daughter told me she was working as a sex worker. It's really hard to know how we'll react in these situations because for me, this is hypothetical. For you, this is your much loved and cherished daughter.
Do you have anyone in your life you're able to lean on for support?
Looking forward to hearing from you @Helplessmum , and I hope that posting here has helped you feel a bit less alone. This is a safe and supportive community and we are here to listen.
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Hi @Peaceful ,
What a lovely username
Thanks so much for sharing your experience, it's always so valuable to hear from other parents who are in similar situations.. and I can hear that you have a lot of insight into both your son's behaviour, and things that tend to set him off. You clearly love him very much and take a compassionate view of his behaviour, even when it's hurtful.
You're so right, that it can really stun you/ hit you in the guts when your child says something aggressive or hurtful to you. I've also experienced that - and I will be honest and say I experienced a range of emotions. I was upset, angry, and also totally shocked- hearing someone you literally gave birth to be verbally abusive is an awful feeling.
It's really valid to be hurt by that, and it's also ok to set firm boundaries, but I love how you've been able to pair this with a really compassionate approach.
Do you have any other children @Peaceful ?
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@charliebear I really appreciate your response, your comment about peckers made me giggle- I'm now a mum of a young boy as well as a tween, and we have to have many discussions about boundaries, and keeping certain parts of our bodies to ourselves!
I love how you've set clear boundaries in a really authentic and genuine way - I think that is so important.
Life must be extremely busy as a mum of 4 and grandma of 4- do you see a lot of your grandsons? I was a sole parent for 4 years, and while it was definitely super challenging at times, I also now have a very close relationship with my daughter, that remains close now I have married. Single parenting can be a tough gig at times, do you have much support for yourself? I found that it was my fellow mum friends who kept me sane - whether that was in person, over the phone, or mates I met in various online support groups over the years
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Hi @charliebear ,
It's so lovely to have you on the forums, welcome! Really appreciate your generosity in sharing your experiences, it can help so much for other parents to know they're not alone. I'm also a mum, and like you I find online communities really helpful, especially if they're non-judgmental, safe spaces.
I've found in my 12 years as a parent that you can often have judgment on basically every decision you make as a parent, and sometimes that can be so unhelpful! Especially when you may just want to feel like someone is listening, and hearing you- holding space for people to share their story is such a powerful thing to do.
I'd love to hear how you were able to let go of your anger? I was also a sole parent for many years, and I experienced such a huge range of emotions... but ultimately, I found that pure anger could become toxic. I needed to feel whatever emotion I was feeling, sit with those feelings, and then ultimately move on. It's a hard thing to do sometimes though, isn't it. I'm so glad that you found reaching out to other people who've walked similar paths to be helpful and we are glad you've found our community here
This quote has always resonated with me. We're not supposed to parent in isolation, and sometimes our "village" can be online.
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