Hi @Albury14 ,
I just thought I would check in and see how you are going - it can be so challenging to be supporting a young person who's struggling with disordered eating and an exercise addiction. As Sophia mentioned ,a psychologist who's skilled in the treatment of eating disorders is a great place to start, as well as liaising with your GP.
The Butterfly Foundation do really amazing work in this area too - they offer an online support group for families and friends of people who are in treatment for an eating disorder, you can find that here if you think that might be helpful. Supporting someone who's experiencing an eating disorder can be so tough on families and carers, and it can help a lot to hear from people who are going through similar things. Their support line is also excellent, they are staffed by counsellors who all have experience in treating eating disorders and they can give support to families and friends as well ( 1800 33 4673 )
Eating Disorders Families Australia is another really great place to find a range of resources aimed at supporting parents and carers - they also offer support groups, and have a lot of different information and support to help parents navigate this journey.
How is your daughter doing at the moment, is she currently in treatment, or is this a recent diagnosis? Thinking of you.
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Hi @beach47 ,
I'm really sorry about the late response to your post - you may have seen that Linda, our resident psychologist, has responded to your post, but I just wanted to copy the response here in case you hadn't seen it.
Dear @beach47 ,
I want to start by saying you sound like a really engaged and caring parent.
Not all teens let their parents know when they start having sex, and it is a sign of trust and that communication is good between your and your daughter that you know.
I can understand how it would be scary that your daughter is not willing to take another form of contraception alongside using condoms. It sounds like you have tried a number of things already - taking her to health professionals, discussing your concerns, finding out her reasons, but this has not been successful.
I am wondering if you have taken a moment to acknowledge that your daughter’s decision to use condoms (as opposed to not using any protection) as a really positive step, and something important that she is doing to look after herself. By providing her with positive feedback about this, it can help her feel that the things she is doing to stay safe are being acknowledged, and may encourage her to continue to consistently use them. It’s also providing an opportunity for a positive moment between you and your daughter, which is particularly important when there is something you’re not seeing eye-to-eye on.
Sometimes, the harder we try to convince someone, the more they will take the opposing view, and become even less likely to change. This isn’t unique to teens and parents, but it can be particularly noticeable during the teen years. It may be helpful, next time this topic is discussed, to take some time to just listen to your daughter’s concerns about contraception - not with the view to develop counter-arguments, or convince her otherwise, but just to understand.
I know that is easier said than done! The reason that I suggest it is that if she feels understood, she will be more open to understanding your perspective, and in some cases when people are really given the chance to explain their perspective on something they feel ambivalent about (which may be the case here), it actually helps shift their thinking - so listening to and seeking to understand why she is reluctant may make your daughter more open to considering contraception.
I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the issue of age. Beach47, I am not sure about the laws where you are, but in Australia the age of sexual consent is 16 or 17 depending on the state, with exceptions when two people are close in age.
Based on you not raising age or consent as a concern in your post, it seems likely your daughter’s boyfriend is a similar age, and you don’t have any concerns about her being consenting. I wanted to comment on this because I know sometimes other parents dealing with similar issues may read these posts. In instances where there are concerns about consent, then my response would be different, and may include taking steps to ensure the teen isn’t having contact with the person, and even involving police if appropriate.
It’s understandable that this situation would be creating some anxiety for you, and it can get very tiring to be worrying about something like this. You’ve clearly put a lot of thought and effort into caring for your daughter. I encourage you to also take time to look after yourself (there are some tips on self care here that are relevant for teens and for parents: https://parents.au.reachout.com/skills-to-build/wellbeing/self-care-and-teenagers), and if you’re finding it is impacting your wellbeing, consider speaking to a counsellor or psychologist to get some support with this.
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Hi @grandmamma4 , I'm really sorry to hear that - school refusal is something we hear about a lot from other parents here.
Can I ask how old your grandson is? Has going to school always been a problem for him, or is this something more recent?
We have some resources here that are more general that might be helpful- they look at reasons young people may be refusing to go to school and have some ideas for how to help them
Looking forward to hearing from you @grandmamma4
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Hi @Belly12 ,
I'm so sorry to hear that your daughter has been experiencing thoughts of not wanting to be here anymore, that must be absolutely heartbreaking to hear as a parent, and I'm so sorry that your daughter is going through this. It sounds like you're a really connected and loving mum, and that is a really protective thing for her- it's also wonderful that she's able to open up to you about these feelings.
You mention that she experienced trauma around 4 years ago and is no longer able to see her father as a result- that must have been really difficult for both of you. I'm wondering if she has had professional mental health support to help her through what happened?
You've mentioned that your daughter has mentioned that she doesn't want to be here anymore - have you ever asked her directly if she is having thoughts of taking her life? I know that can feel like a really confronting thing to ask, but communicating really openly about suicidal thoughts has actually been shown to lower the risk of suicide, and it also gives your daughter the chance to open up more about what is happening for her. We have an article here that might be helpful that talks about ways to talk to young people when you're concerned that they may be having these thoughts.
It's great that she is already seeing the school counsellor - another additional way to get a bit more support is to have a talk to your local GP, who can do a mental health plan for you so that she can see a psychologist for medicare subsidised sessions. Your local headspace is also a great resource, and they also offer online counselling here. Kids Helpline also offer free 24/7 counselling on 1800 55 1800, and they also have online counselling as an option .
If you're ever concerned that she's at risk of taking her life, then it's really important to seek urgent support by calling 000 -the suicide callback service can also give great advice if you're not sure what to do.
On a positive note, it's wonderful that she's enjoying playing soccer with her friends, it definitely sounds like that would be a great social outlet for her and is a great thing for mental health as well! It's really hard when kids want thing that their friends have, and it can be really hard for them to realise that sometimes that's not possible. Are there other activities that she likes doing with her friends that are low cost, or don't cost anything?
Being a single parent can be a really tough gig, especially when our kids are having a tough time, and it sounds like you are doing a wonderful job- do you have much support for yourself? We do offer a one to one support service that might be helpful - you can learn more about that here. It's a free, and confidential, service.
I'm also going to tag in some other parents who've experienced challenging times with their young people - you are definitely not alone, and I'd love to hear any other suggestions of what has worked for other parents @Birdwings @JamOnToast @PapaBill @Dadof4kids
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Hi @Salojy ,
I can imagine this would feel like a really tricky situation to navigate. It sounds like you're in a step father type of relationship with your partner's daughter, have I got that right? It's great that you've been able to discuss these concerns openly with your partner as well.
I can imagine that the thought of having unfounded allegations made against you would feel really frightening, and I'm hearing that you have a lot of anxiety around this, and the prospect that if that did happen, you might then be left in a really precarious situation - I'm wondering if you've ever talked to a counsellor about these feelings? They may be able to talk to you about the likelihood of something like this happening - in general, it is very rare for a child to make false allegations of this kind. Has your stepdaughter ever said anything to you that makes you feel concerned that this is something that could happen, or is this more of a general worry that you're experiencing?
In terms of appropriate boundaries when a step parent starts living with a single mum with kids, it's definitely something that looks different for every family. It sounds like you have a close and respectful relationship with your stepdaughter, which is really wonderful. Some boundaries that may appropriate, and also could be protective for you could include never entering the bathroom while she is showering, for example.
We have some great articles about blended families on our ReachOut Parents page that might be helpful, I'll just link to them here
Rules in a blended family
Be the ultimate step parent
Blended families and teenagers
What appropriate boundaries look like is different for every family situation and dynamic. Is your step-daughter's biological father also involved in her life?
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Hi @megafort ,
Thanks so much for posting here, I know these issues can be pretty tricky to know how to approach as a parent.
I'm hearing that there are a few things that are concerning you. In terms of your daughter describing a sensation of arousal in her genitals, that's a completely normal and common thing for young children to describe. A lot of behaviour that adults may consider sexual can be developmentally totally normal for kids- including exploring their own bodies or describing the sensation of arousal. This resource is a really excellent run down of behaviours that are normal and not something to be concerned about, compared to other behaviours that may be harmful or a cause for concern.
This article talks specifically about sexual behaviour in school aged children, around the same age that your daughter is. At this age, role play type activities are really common, and scenarios that you describe like tying up people's hands and feet and playing around in a police-thief scenario may well be a part of natural role playing/ make believe activities that are really common and healthy in this age group. For a 7 year old, this may not be related to the more adult concept of bondage.
The second article I've linked to has some really good suggestions for how to approach sexual behaviour which I thought was worth listing here, as they outline the approach that's right for you depends on the values you have as a family.
How to respond to typical sexual behaviour in school-age children
How you react to sexual behaviour is important, but your approach depends on your values. Some parents are happy with this type of behaviour, and others aren’t.
The most important thing is to stay calm, no matter how you plan to respond.
You can use sexual behaviour as an opportunity to help your child learn. You could ask your child if he has any questions about bodies and relationships and then talk with him about what behaviour is OK in different situations. For example, you could say that behaving respectfully means not touching other people’s genitals or using sexual language that makes them uncomfortable.
You could also read books about bodies, relationships, puberty and personal safety with your child.
If you want your child to stop the sexual behaviour, calmly suggest another activity. For example, if your child is playing ‘You show me yours, I’ll show you mine’, you could say, ‘Come to the kitchen both of you. You can have some fruit and a drink, and then we’ll play a different game’.
You could talk to your child later about what behaviour is OK in your home and what behaviour is OK in front of other children, parents or teachers. For example, you could explain that although you’re OK with your child playing without clothes on at home, it’s not OK when other people can see her.
Do you have any concerns about whether your daughter has been exposed to inappropriate material or behaviour at all, or other concerns about her behaviour? If you do have any concerns, you can always raise it with your child's doctor or a counsellor - unfortunately we are based in Australia so the suggestions in the articles I've posted won't be available for you I'm sorry.
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Hi @simbameow ,
Oh, the politics of children's birthday parties- I can strongly relate to this post, we recently had the first ever 'big' party for my youngest, who also just turned 4. It can be a bit of a minefield I've found- chasing up RSVPs, not being sure if people will turn up, it goes on... I think I would just take an approach of being honest in an age appropriate way, and say that his friend really wanted to come, but his family had other plans that day so he couldn't make it. Sometimes I think that these situations can be tougher on us as parents than it is on the kids - I can understand that you'd be feeling worried about damaging the friendship (and possibly a bit disappointed/ frustrated with his best friend's mum), but I imagine that your son may be a bit oblivious to those nuances.
Can you suggest that they maybe have a special play date/ play at the park another day?
I also just thought I'd suggest some of the great resources over at the Raising Children's Network over here. They have a lot of really good material developed by experts on preschooler/ school aged kids', their development, and ideas for how to support young kids in navigating friendships. We focus more on young people aged 12-25 at ReachOut - I know that I've found the RCN articles and resources really helpful as a parent myself :)
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Hi @footy ,
That's really wonderful to hear- you sound like an incredibly special person, and your granddaughter is very lucky to have you in her corner. I'm sure that having the support of her cousins as well as yourselves is going to make a big difference to her life. Fingers crossed that the school enrolment all goes smoothly for you!
I hope she's settling in well - have you been in contact with any services to support her with her mental health? I'd be more than happy to share some different services that might be helpful if you'd like.
All the best,
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Hi @Jed123 ,
Thanks so much for posting - that definitely sounds like incredibly challenging behaviour from your daughter, and I can imagine it must feel so frustrating for you when you feel like you're not able to get through to her. It sounds like you're a loving and thoughtful parent who has your daughter's wellbeing at the heart of everything you do - and I'm so sorry that you're feeling like you're failing as a parent.
I'm wondering if you've ever sat down with your daughter and talked about what consequences that she thinks would be appropriate for when she breaches boundaries, and what boundaries are non-negotiable? This article has some great ideas for setting boundaries with young people - it's also really important to make sure that you and your husband are both on the same page about what acceptable boundaries look like for you and your family, so that your daughter is getting really consistent messages from both of you. Having your daughter's input in talking about family rules and consequences might then also be helpful - I also really liked this article about different types of consequences that can be used as kids grow into teenagers.
There's also some good resources on the Raising Children's network about having predictable and consistent consequences for teenagers - though speaking as a parent myself, I know that this is sometimes easier said than done! Unfortunately sometimes consequences for young people can end up impacting the whole family, this is definitely something I've experienced as well - but it is also really important that she understand that actions that could be dangerous, like not listening at the beach and getting caught in a rip, or bringing a knife to school, come with consequences.
I'm also curious about whether your daughter has been able to explain her behaviour at all? Is she able to explain why she's lying, or hiding food under her bed? The early teen years can definitely be a turbulent time as hormones are raging, and their brains are re-wiring themselves. You mentioned that your daughter has no self control - I'm wondering if this has always been something you've noticed about her, or if it's something that seems to have become worse lately? It's great that you have already seen professionals with her, I am also wondering if her school has been able to offer support at all?
Sometimes it can be really helpful to talk to a professional to get some practical strategies to help your teenager - we do offer a free one to one parents support service that you can find more about here, that's focused on helping parents to develop an action plan for their family.
I'm also just going to tag some other members of our parent community who may have their own words of wisdom and advice to share @Birdwings @PapaBill @compassion @Pink4
I can imagine that this must really be taking a toll on you - do you have people in your life that you're able to lean on for support?
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Hi @Nabertater ,
It sounds like it's been a really hard week for both you and your son, I can imagine this would be a really upsetting situation to have to deal with. It sounds like your son's feeling very upset and embarrassed about what he said, and I am sure that would have been a really difficult conversation for you to have with him. We have some materials here that might have some helpful ideas on how to have broader discussions with him about consent , and I think it's OK for you to let him know how what he said made you feel.
Another thing that may be worth considering, is if what he's said to you may have come from something that he has seen while watching pornographic material- it can be an awkward conversation to have, but research shows that it is common for young people to have been exposed to porn online. While it can be a way for young people to explore their sexuality it can also be important to realise that some scenarios that you see in porn aren't reflective of real life, real relationships, and the way that consent should work in healthy sexual relationships. This article has some great ideas for talking to young people about pornography
It may be helpful to chat to a counsellor about what you've been experiencing - we are based in Australia so unfortunately our local services won't be available to you, but I did come across this organisation who provide phone and web based support services that might be helpful? (They happen to have a very similar name to our organisation but we're not affiliated! )
How are you feeling today?
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Hi @footy ,
I'm really sorry for the late response to this post - welcome to the ReachOut forums, we're glad you've found this space.
It sounds like your granddaughter is really lucky to have you in her life. Do you mind if I ask how old your Granddaughter is? What kind of mental health challenges is she experiencing at the moment? Has she been seeing any mental health professionals to get support for this?
I saw you mentioned that she's having issues with using social media - that's definitely something we hear about quite a lot, from young people using social media too often, to people experiencing bullying over social media, or sharing inappropriate content. On the other hand, it can also be a really valuable way for young people to connect with each other. We have some great resources on our ReachOut Parents page here that might be helpful- what aspect of her social media use are you concerned about?
Looking forward to hearing from you- I'm also going to tag some other parents here who have teens of a similar age who may be able to share their experiences @Birdwings @LAWZE_H @JamOnToast @OhGosh
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Hi @qwerty11 ,
I just wanted to check in, and see how you and your daughter have been going?
It sounds like your daughter is highly intelligent and I'm wondering if it would be worth revisiting with the school if they're able to cater for her with more challenging work in subjects where she's ahead, or if accelerating her in subjects where she's particularly talented would be a possibility. I can see that you've raised that already with the school, and I can imagine that their response could feel pretty frustrating - I think it's really reasonable for you to expect that they provide her with the extra enrichment and level of challenge that she's needing; just because she's achieving good grades doesn't mean that she doesn't need further support and enrichment.
I'm just linking to material from the Australian curriculum on gifted and talented students which also links to resources for each state, in case that is helpful to guide a discussion with her school.
From what you say, it sounds like boredom with what is being taught is a real issue, and it's definitely something I have heard from other parents of gifted kids. Another option could be looking for other enrichment activities through a local university - this page also has a list of peak organisations in each state who may be able to give you some advice and support.
Does your daughter know what she would like to do after she leaves school?
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Hi @andrew60 ,
I have to say I can relate so strongly to your post- I was also a sole parent from when my oldest child was born until she was 4.5 years old- I was really lucky to have supportive family and friends, but some days could definitely feel very long, and there were some days where I was just beyond desperate for adult conversation. I can really relate to the boredom sometimes too! Looking after young kids is wonderful but the day in, day out monotony of keeping the house running/ keeping everyone fed and clothed, preparing food etc could really feel like groundhog day sometimes. I feel like there's sometimes a bit of stigma around talking about the aspects of parenting that can be tough, or boring, or monotonous - it doesn' t mean that we don't love our kids or love being parents - and I do also think there's a lot to the notion that humans are really by nature social animals, and we aren't necessarily designed to raise our kids in isolation! I found local parents' groups helpful for helping to build my "village" and having the occasional dinner where we'd all cook together and watching each other's kids really helped a lot. Do you have any friends that you could do this with, or even set up a bit of a mutual babysitting arrangement so that you can get some more child free time?
I found playgroups a really helpful way of staying connected with grownups while I had my kids and at least being able to have adult conversations, have any activities like that opened up where you are? I also found joining things like local bookclub and doing a meditation course to be really helpful in helping me feel like I was doing something for myself.
Thanks so much for your post @andrew60 - you're definitely not alone. Raising small kids is an amazing time of life, but it can also be isolating and exhausting, and it's really good to have that conversation here.
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Hi @Sued1 ,
I really agree with you that there's a big gap out there! There is one organisation that I've come across and done some training with that may fit into what you're looking for that I thought was worth a mention - Tomorrow Man do a range of workshops/ courses on redefining masculinity, and they touch on all sorts of things, including building empathy, bullying and how it may feel from a victim's point of view, and how to break down those walls and barriers and talk to mates about mental health. They have an amazing ability to connect with young guys especially in a really authentic, genuine and honest way. They are so passionate about what they do, and I can definitely recommend them really highly if you think it's something that might fit what you're looking for.
They've also participated in some podcasts that might be of interest.
I think that @MaryRO 's suggestions of mentoring programs are also great - Raise are one great organisation that run a lot of mentoring programs and have a focus on early intervention and empowering and educating young people.
One last organisation I wanted to mention is BullyZero. They're an Australian charity who focus on bullying and its prevention and have some great resources on their site- they also run workshops in schools which look like they might be helpful.
I hope these help a bit - your son's really lucky to have you in his corner.
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Hi @Ajackson ,
I think it's wonderful how dedicated you are to being a good parent and researching the best strategies for you. As you've identified, there's a lot of factors come into play, especially in regards to the temperament of the parent and the temperament of your child.
In terms of parenting styles, the evidence seems to suggest that an authoritative parenting style is generally linked to positive outcomes for children. From this article;
Authoritative parenting is characterized by reasonable demands and high responsiveness. While authoritative parents might have high expectations for their children, they also give their kids the resources and support they need to succeed.
Parents who exhibit this style listen to their kids and provide love and warmth in addition to limits and fair discipline. This approach to parenting avoids punishment and threats and instead relies on strategies such as positive reinforcement."
This guide is also quite good in explaining the evidence behind this and different parenting styles that have been described in the developmental psychology literature , and I also came across a more recent journal article that goes into more depth about the nuances of the research.
If you're wanting some really specific and actionable advice around your child's specific needs, one approach might be to see a clinical psychologist who works with children and young people - they would be well placed to give you some specific, evidence based strategies to use with your son. I hope this is helpful!
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Hi @Sandy02 ,
That sounds like an incredibly difficult situation for you all, and your niece is really lucky that she has someone in her life like you that cares about her.
It sounds like things were really tough for your niece last night- you say that she refused to go with her mother, was she able to find somewhere safe to sleep last night? Do you know if your sister has engaged with any support services at all?
One service that might be really helpful for you to give a call is Family Connect and Support . You can look up who the local provider in your niece's area would be here. It's designed to be a way to connect families to the support services that will best meet their needs. In your family's case, this might mean looking at things like counselling/ support services for your niece, emergency housing or access to a youth refuge if that's needed, to make sure that your niece has somewhere safe to stay, and giving information and support to you about what it might look like if you do decide to see if your niece comes to stay with you. The service can provide a caseworker for up to 16 weeks, and also help you all to make a plan for the future.
In the immediate future, the most important thing is to make sure that your niece is safe and has somewhere to live. There's a few services that can help young people at risk of homelessness :
Centrelink appointments: 13 10 21
Reconnect (for young people age 12–18)
Homelessness Australia: (02) 6247 7744
Link2home is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week: 1800 152 152
A full list of NSW-based accommodation services can be found on the NSW Family & Community Services website
I can completely understand that it would be a really difficult decision about whether or not to step in, and what it would look like for you if you did decide to see if your niece would like to live with you. Hopefully Family Connect would also be able to give you some advice and support around that, I don't want to bombard you with too many links, but I would also be happy to look for some other resources/ support services.
Thinking of you, it sounds like such a tough situation, and your niece is really lucky to have you in her corner.
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Hi @Dadtryingtohelp ,
Thanks so much for your post, you're clearly a really loving and supportive Dad, and it's wonderful to hear that you want to support your son in finding his tribe.
Twenty10 is a fantastic organisation who do a lot of work in supporting LGBTQIA people - they have a range of different social groups for young gay teens, and are really safe, welcoming and inclusive spaces.
Minus18 are another great organisation who offer a range of events (though it does look like their in-person events are just getting started up again post covid)
It sounds like your son is feeling quite isolated not knowing any other gay teens - sometimes it can help a lot to chat to other people who've been through the same thing. QLife are a peer support service for LGBTQIA people, it's a free service and all of the volunteers are really passionate about helping people like your son who may be feeling isolated and wanting to know more about the community. They also have this database of different organisations across Australia which may be helpful- some of those also do social meetups and different support groups.
The last thing I wanted to mention is our ReachOut Youth forums - we have a lot of LGBTQIA young people in the community, and it's a really safe, welcoming and accepting space that can help a lot in breaking down those feelings of isolation. If he's interested in checking that out, we actually had a live Ask Me Almost Anything discussion last night around LGBTQIA issues- as a parent myself, I also found it amazing to read through and hear what young people in the community are going through. You don't need to log in to read the posts, so you/ your son are very welcome to have a read through the posts here if you'd be interested.
Wishing you and your son all the very best, please feel free to keep us posted on how you're both travelling
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Hi @Birdwings ,
Thank you so much for your compassionate response- I have to say I kind of love the idea of you and @JamOnToast sharing a coffee at sailing! Maybe this can serve as a bit of a virtual equivalent..
The late teens/ transition between high school and whatever comes after that can be a really tricky time for young people and their young people, and I think you are so spot on when you say it can be so hard for young people when some of their peers seem to be sailing through all of those milestones (knowing exactly what they want to study at uni, getting their driving license, moving out, travelling), while they're still not quite sure what the future holds for them. We definitely hear this a lot on our youth forums (we have a youth forum for 14-25 year olds) - 2020 in particular was such a rocky and uncertain year, and I think that a lot of young people can experience anxiety about finding their purpose in life/ finding work/ what to study/ what adult life holds for them.
@JamOnToast I'm sorry to hear about your son's accident, that does sound pretty nasty and I can understand if his confidence has taken a bit of a knock, especially with the setback of failing his sailing exam. It sounds like it might be all about encouraging those baby steps for now, as frustrating as that may feel at times. Hiding away from the world can become a bit of a viscious cycle, but making small changes can hopefully have an incremental positive effect and help him to break out of the cycle of avoidance.
I also love the idea of talking via text- another strategy that has sometimes helped me when I'm having curlier conversations with my daughter has been talking while driving/ bushwalking etc - there's something about having something else to focus on and not being directly face to face that seems to help.
It sounds like you are doing an amazing job and supporting and encouraging your son, I hope that things start to turn around for you all soon.
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Hi @JamOnToast ,
It can be so hard for parents when we can see that our young people are struggling, but they don't want help, or aren't ready to talk to a professional for whatever reason. I'm wondering if your son has always been more on the introverted side, or if you think he's become more withdrawn lately?
Does your son have any other hobbies that he enjoys, that may be an area where he could do some volunteer work or join a community organisation? Do you think he has any ideas of what kind of work he would enjoy doing?
It sounds like you're encouraging, loving, and supportive parents, which is hugely important- being able to keep the lines of communication open with your son is fantastic. This article has some good strategies that may be helpful as well- I can imagine it would be a pretty helpless feeling seeing your son not doing so well, but not being able to take steps to improve things, but continuing to be patient and offering your love and support is one of the most important things that you can do.
If you think your son may be more open to chatting with a mental health professional online, it may also be worth letting him know about eHeadspace and Kids Helpline online services (despite the name, they offer support to young people aged until 25)- sometimes that can seem less confronting than talking to someone in person.
We recently had another parent sharing a somewhat similar experience, and I thought it may be helpful to read the advice from our resident psychologist Linda here.
I'm also going to tag in some other parents who may be able to share what's worked for them - @Birdwings @LIALIA @Dadof4kids - you are definitely not alone.
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Hi @D-Rock ,
You sound like such a switched on and loving dad, and I can hear how much you want to be a great dad and partner- parenting small kids is exhausting, and I can completely understand why you'd be feeling drained (I also have a very early waking small child and I feel you on the exhaustion there!). Finding the right balance between looking after ourselves and being a present and loving parent can be so hard, but it's also really important to look after yourself.
Our service is mainly for parents of kids aged 12-18 but I did find some support services for dads that look like they could be helpful:
Dads Group is all about connecting Aussie dads, they run in person and online groups for Dads to catch up with their kids
This page has a list of different support services for dads across Australia
Mensline is another great, free service that offers support and counselling as well as heaps of information on different services around for men
I hope some of this helps, I hope that some other dads in the community will also jump in. I can hear how much you want to do better than other people in your life who don't make time for their families, and I think that is huge- and something that will mean so much to your family in the years to come. But it's also OK to take time for yourself, and the things that make you happy.
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Hi @Exhaustedmom17 ,
That sounds like such a tough situation for you to be navigating- I'm hearing that you and your husband have really different approaches to parenting as well as different family backgrounds, and it sounds really difficult when you have different ideas about what's appropriate in terms of discipline, sleeping arrangements and also quite different parenting styles. It also sounds like it's been pretty difficult for you and your husband to discuss these issues, which I imagine would be very frustrating for you.
Unfortunately our service is aimed at parents of young people aged 12-18 and we are based in Australia, so I don't have a lot of knowledge about support services available where you are. It's great to hear that you're on some waiting lists to get some professional support, I'm sorry that things are so hard to access at the moment. It sounds like you're doing all of the right things in terms of looking for a professional to help you work through these issues - here's a few other resources that may also be helpful for you/ helpful for you to share with your husband
The Raising Children's Network has some great, evidence based content on parenting young kids, and i thought these resources may be helpful:
Preschoolers: Behaviour Management Tips and Tools
Preschoolers and healthy screen time
Preschoolers: Family relationships
This program may also be helpful - it's a positive parenting skills program that is run across the USA by the American Psychological Association
Wishing you and your family all the best- it sounds like you are a switched on and loving mom who wants the best for her child and family, and I hope that things start to improve for you all soon.
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Hi @Rachel12345 ,
I'm so sorry to hear that you and your son have been going through such a hard time recently, I can imagine that it would have been incredibly distressing for both of you to find out that your husband had attempted to take his life.
I hope you don't mind, but I just thought I would list a few other support services in NSW that may be able to help you and your son find the right support- apologies in advance if you're already aware of any of these:
Family Connect and Support can help to connect you to a range of services and supports in your local area, including helping to co-ordinate services, and they can also refer on for more complex needs. The link I've attached here has an option for you to enter where you live, so you can find your local provider.
Mental Health Line can be contacted on 1800 011 511 for advice, assessment and referral- it is staffed 24/7 by qualified professionals, and can refer on to the most appropriate services under the Child and Adolescent Mental Health teams in your area. They have multidisciplinary teams of psychiatrists, psychologist, allied health professionals, counsellors and mental health nurses.
One program it might be worth asking about is the Whole Family Team
Whole Family Teams
Families with complex needs often risk falling through service gaps, often missing out on services due to access and support issues. The Whole Family Team helps to prevent vulnerable families from falling through service gaps, helping them with complex mental health and with problematic alcohol and other drug use that impact the safety of their children.
Your Service Hub (family drug and alcohol support services) : this government site lets you search for support services for families affected by alcohol misuse..
I'm also wondering if the hospital where your husband has been admitted has referred you and your family on to their social work team at all? They may also be able to help in finding some good support services for your son and your family.
Do you have any family or friends helping to support you at the moment? It sounds like an incredible stressful and difficult situation for you, we are here to listen.
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Hi @OhGosh ,
I have to say my 11 year old has also sometimes expressed that they preferred online learning in some ways - they really liked being able to work at their own pace, not being distracted by "annoying kids" (as they put it!) and having that freedom to plan their own time. It's definitely a been a big adjustment going back to in person learning so I can really feel for your daughter. It sounds like the school are really willing to work with you and the model of half online learning/ half in person sounds like it could be a good fit for your daughter - it's really good to hear that they're willing to be flexible, and work with you all to find the best outcome for your daughter. I hope the school counsellors are helpful as well.
If you/ your daughter's supports think that anxiety about school may be part of the puzzle here (just thinking about the upset tummy etc), Cool Kids Online is a fantastic program that's free of charge - it's an evidence based program run by Macquarie Uni and can help a lot to give kids strategies to help with their anxiety.
It sounds like you definitely made some progress with the school which is great, I hear that it's all taking a toll on you and your other kids, that can be so tough. Do you think you can do something nice together on the weekend? It can be really hard on the whole family when someone we love is struggling
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That sounds like such a tricky situation - weed is the most common drug that young people experiment after alcohol, so you're definitely not alone. We do have some good resources on our parents page about cannabis, its effects on the developing brain and ideas for how to approach those conversations with young people here, interestingly the academics that ReachOut talked to for this piece found that talking about brain development was one thing that really resonated with older teens like your son. We also have an article here about talking about drug use more generally - it can also be helpful to know why your son is smoking. Is it for enjoyment, to cope with other stuff going on, or a mixture of reasons?
I also really like @PapaBill 's advice above about involving your son in discussions around boundaries, and consequences for when they do get broken.
Do you think your son's anger and shutting himself away are a sign of a bigger issue for him at the moment? If you think he would be open to chatting to someone about what's going on for him, Headspace centres and eHeadspace can be a great place to start.
Keep us posted with how you're getting on :)
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Hi @hairbyme ,
The teen years are a pretty common time for young people to start exploring romantic relationships, and I think that a lot of parents find that quite a confronting and nerve wracking time! Parents are often concerned about several different aspects of relationships, is it the prospect of your son getting involved in a sexual relationship that worries you? Or is it navigating other aspects of relationships?
Does your son have anyone in particular that he's interested in, or is it more about him being interested in having a girlfriend in general?
Is your son active in the deaf community? We are based in Australia so I don't have in depth knowledge of services in the UK but did come across this resource for deaf young people that looked pretty interesting, it has a lot of opportunities for young people to connect here
We have a few resources on our Parents page that may be helpful in terms of talking to him about relationships and helping him to build skills to form respectful romantic relationships.
You know your son best - it's great that he's open to talking to you about what's happening for him, and I'd really encourage you to build on that and maybe have some discussions around relationships - I would imagine that at 16 it may become difficult to stop him from having a girlfriend, so could be good to help him build those skills in having a healthy and respectful relationship, as well as having conversations around sex and consent if you think he's considering becoming sexually active .
Wishing you all the best- please feel free to keep us posted on how you're getting on
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Hi @wantbalance ,
That sounds like a really tricky situation, and I can understand why you'd be pretty frustrated. Being a single parent can be really tough, especiallyif you're not getting a whole lot of time to yourself to get out and meet other people. Do you have any family, or friends with kids who are a similar age who might be interested in having your kids over for an occasional sleepover?
I'm hearing how frustrating it must be for you not having a lot of time for yourself, as well as having to do the brunt of the shuttling kids around/ feeding extra kids. Are there any activities that you could do on the nights that you don't have kids that are something just for you? Do you have any hobbies that you enjoy?
It looks like you're in the USA, is that right? Unfortunately we're based in Australia so I don't have a whole lot of knowledge about how co-parenting mediation works there, but the other thing I'm wondering is whether or not it could be worth revisiting the custody arrangements with your ex husband- it sounds like a really tricky situation for you.
I'm also just moving this post to our single parenting board so you may get some more support from other parents who've been through similar things.
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Hi @OhGosh ,
I'm really sorry to hear that your daughter is going through this, we hear about school refusal quite a lot on our forums, and it' s such a tricky thing for both parents and their young people to navigate. It sounds like you're doing all of the right things by being proactive and getting an appointment to see a psychologist, as well as making an appointment to talk to the school, which is really wonderful. I'm sure it will mean a lot to your daughter knowing that you are there to support her and advocate for her needs, and hopefully the school will be able to help to support her in transitioning back to school.
While you're waiting for your appointment with the psychologist, there's also some free online services available if you think she'd be open to having a chat to a counsellor or psychologist about what's been happening for her Kids Helpline and eHeadspace are both great places to try, you can speak to counsellors either online or over the phone.
Has your daughter been able to talk about what is happening for her at school at the moment ? You mention she's 12, has she recently started high school, or is this her last year in primary school? These transitional times can be especially tough for young people, I have an 11 year old who's experienced some social anxiety, and we definitely found seeing a psychologist really helpful in helping her to build her toolkit in managing those feelings . The disruptions and uncertainty around covid last year have been an additional challenge for a lot of young people. Apologies if you've already seen this, but we have an article for parents on ways to help their kids manage school refusal which might be helpful, you can check that out here.
We also have another thread where some other parents have been sharing similar issues that might be useful for you here- it can be so helpful to hear from people who are travelling the same path.
It sounds like mornings are especially rough for your daughter, how does she go as the day goes on? Is starting school a bit later on rough days an option for her in the short term?
If you think it would be useful for you to get some more individual support and advice, we also offer a One to One Parents Support service, which you can check out here., there is currently a pretty high demand for this service but you're very welcome to register if you think that might be helpful.
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Hi @Jiindah1 ,
I just wanted to touch base and see how you're doing today - I can imagine this would feel really disrespectful and inappropriate as a parent, I think that I would also be feeling pretty appalled that other parents felt it was appropriate to give my child money without discussing this with the young person's parents. It's pretty shocking, and I can imagine you would feel incredibly disrespected by that- and I'm so sorry that you've experienced that. It's not respecting your boundaries as a parent, and that's really not OK.
Do you think you'd feel comfortable approaching this family and letting them know how this makes you feel, and the impact it's having on your relationship with your son?
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Hi @Nanna1925 ,
That sounds like a very confronting situation face as a parent- I imagine that would have come as a pretty huge shock to you. Online safety and young people being aware of risky online behaviour is something we hear quite a lot about from parents- and given our kids are now growing up in a world where they're increasingly expected to be online for school and use online platforms for staying in touch with friends, knowing how to help our kids to stay safe online is incredibly important.
I can imagine that this would be a really difficult situation to navigate with your daughter, but it may also be a good opportunity to have a discussion about online safety, and setting boundaries around what is and isn't safe online. ReachOut Parents have some good resources that can help you to have those chats - this article looks at a lot of different aspects of how to help your young person use technology responsibly, which can include being aware of the risks of some kinds of online behaviour, and being aware that people aren't always who they claim to be online. You could use this to set some boundaries around what is acceptable behaviour online: for example some parents won't let their young people use chat rooms at all until a certain age, some will allow social media but will only allow their kids to add people who they know, and some parents let their kids know that they will monitor their behaviour online for unsafe behaviour. My daugher is slightly younger (will be turning 12 shortly) and has access to a phone and laptop, but we do check it regularly and have also set up family filters for inappropriate content. One strategy that some familes find useful is keeping the computer in a common room of the house (e.g the living room), so that you can be somewhat aware of what's happening with your child's online activity. The right approach to this will look different for every family, but it's great that you are aware of what's happening and open to having those tough conversations with you.
This article also has some simple tips for looking after your safety online.
It's an awkward discussion to have, but if someone has been exchanging inappropriate messages and/or photos with her, there's also some really good resources on the eSafety Commission website about how to talk to your young person about sexting, nudes, and the potential for people online to be grooming young people- if you want to learn more about these issues, this is a really excellent place to start. The second resource I've linked here also has some great, practical advice for parents on how to approach these issues with their kids.
If your daughter needs to be using her computer for school, it may also be worth letting the school know what's happened - without naming her publicly, it could be a good opportunity for the school to have a discussion with the kids about online safety. The eSafety Commisioner is another great resource for parents and schools
I'm hearing that the other aspect of this is your daughter is devastated at the loss of the connection that she thought she had with this person - I'd imagine that she will need a lot of extra love and support to help her cope with that, and I'd definitely encourage you to have a chat to your GP if you think that she could benefit from chatting to a mental health professional about how she's feeling.
I'm also going to tag some of our Parents champions @Dad4good @Birdwings @eitak1 - there's also some threads here and here that may be helpful to have a read of, from parents who've been through similar things.
Finally, if you think it would be helpful for you to chat to a professional one to one about this, we do have a one to one support service, which is a free and confidential service for parents and carers of young people in Australia - you can access that here if you're interested.
Wishing you all the best - how is your daughter doing today?
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