Sorry to hear you are having such a tough time with your daughter. I am glad she has someone she is talking to and maybe there is a possibility you could speak to this councillor before her next session? That way you could mention her withholding something she had written from you. Maybe you could find a compromise with your daughter, explaining to her that her health and safety is all you're concerned about, and if she was able to show the councillor what she'd written then she wouldn't be under any pressure to show you? The councillor could hopefully then reassure you that she is doing ok.
Maybe writing her thoughts down on paper is something your daughter does to get things out of her head, it can be a really helpful tool. And maybe what she writes is just for her own processing and she doesn't want you to read it as she would fear you would be worried or need her to talk more about what she's writing or something else.
See if you can find a compromise with her, something that gives her the control and privacy of her own processing but at the same time gives you the reassurances you need to know that she is doing ok.
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The best thing about being a parent to teens is watching them excel in their passions and pursuits. Watching them show strength, determination and commitment, both physically emotionally and socially. Seeing them do the best that they possibly can, in all they do, brings me so much admiration, love and pride. This is especially true when you're a single parent, and have been for 15 years with no one else's support or help. Seeing these moments of success and feeling this pride makes all that I've done for them, all the tough times, on my own, seem kind of validated.
The toughest thing about being a parent of a teen, especially since I'm on my own, is finding the compromises with them with no support and making all the decisions, without any other adult to help. Splitting yourself three ways between them, constantly knowing that someone is missing out and in time, seeing the effect that has had on them. And the biggest toughest thing is that as they move past being teens and become more independent, spread their wings in their own lives, your connection to them is lessened or even lost. That is by far the toughest part of being a mum I have had to endue, and again, probably made worse by the fact that it's just me. :'(
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Hi @carm0612 I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your husband and the loss your daughter is having to cope with by losing her dad. I too lost my husband, suddenly in an accident, my 3 children were very young at the time. I understand how hard all this must be for you, trying to get through your own grief at the same time as trying to do the best for your daughter. I applaud you for reaching out for support. It's never easy doing this parenting gig, and it's even tougher on your own. There are a number of things I would suggest. Firstly, have you spoken to her school? By law, she is not allowed to not go to school, unless she is enrolled in a home school or distance education program. So, my suggestion would be to ask for support from her school. They will have a councillor, and they may even be able to talk to her for you, explaining the consequences if she refuses to go to school. This takes it away from you being the "baddy". They are the ones that will be implementing the rules...so to speak. Maybe then you can be seen as being on her side, looking for a compromise of returning to school gradually, at the same time as completing some school work at home with you? Maybe? And hopefully if she feels you are trying to support her, without forcing her, it might be a start to bridging the gap between you that you feel is there at the moment. I think your idea of getting out into nature is a good idea, especially if it means there is no internet for a few days. Could you maybe go camping together somewhere? Or like you said, maybe a camp specifically for her? Maybe that could be something else you could ask her school councillor about, they may know of something? The other thing I wanted to ask is, do you have any family support? Is there anyone supporting you? Parents, siblings, close friends? Maybe it might be good for both you and your daughter to have some 'timeout'. Could she go and stay with someone? Is there anyone she would want to go to have time with? Grandparents, uncle/aunt? Maybe a break might provide you with the 'reset button' you need for you to start things on a different footing with her when she comes home? My overall advice is to be consistent, firm and fair, emphasising that you love and care about her as your bottom line. Provide her with choices, options of what she can do, that way, she has some say and some control but the options you give her (or the school) are ones that will work for you both. And don't be afraid to remind her that you lost him too and you are also going through a lot. Sometimes our teenagers need to be reminded that things aren't easy for us either. Maybe going with an approach of "we're both sad and it's not easy, but we need to be there for each other". I hope some of this helps. Keep us posted and continue to come back for support here as you need. Take care of you.
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Hi @Langus, All the suggestions and advice you have received is great. The only other thing I would suggest is talking to her Year Advisor at school. It will be beneficial for them to be aware of her tendency to feelings of overwhelm, especially since you mentioned she is at a new school, therefore they may not know her very well yet. The year advisors job is to have a connection with students in that year and to be a liaison between student/parents and the subject teachers. At most schools, hopefully hers too, the year advisor will move through the 6 years with their allocated year, so establishing rapport with that person will be beneficial for all of you for Year 11 & 12. Once you or your partner have had a discussion with the year advisor, they may be able to discuss her subject ideas with the individual teachers for you, focusing on her strengths from year 10, to save you speaking to 6 or 7 different teachers. Then they may be able to come back to you all with suggestions and ideas about possible choices that may work for her. I agree though, from experience as a teacher and a parent, the pressure that is put on these kids at school and the emphasis on the HSC is at times too much. I have taken the approach with my own daughters, (one who is currently doing the HSC, and another also in Year 10) that the HSC isn't the be all and there is ALWAYS other ways to get where you want to. And it's ok and normal to not know what they want to do at their age. If the message they get at home is...."do your best and try hard but it really doesn't matter" then I think we reassure them and they come home to a place of less pressure, which is needed if there is a lot of emphasis on high marks at the school. The most important thing I think they need to learn through Year 11 & 12 is to be organised and plan and prioritise, ensuring there is balance in their life. Keeping a detailed diary with all commitments in it, social, work, sport and then assignments and exams too. Then planning when they will be allocating time to complete things and having a weekly timetable. I hope this helps. Good luck. Come back and let us know how it goes. :)
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