@KattMomma, trust your parenting skills. Your comments and worry tell me you have everything it takes - kids need our heart first and foremost. And, trust your judgement and wisdom. I love that you see a difference when there are limits on gaming. It will take time, probably years, but, just keep explaining to him the "boundaries" are gaming are not punishment. It is what is good for him - these years of 11 through 18, he is building life skills that shape him for adulthood. In time, he will understand that and when he has experiences like he did at the park and you reflect with him, over time, he will grow. It sounds like your son has a big heart that is going through difficult change. That is where his character and strength is established Stay strong KattMomma! You have what it takes and I suspect your son knows you love him dearly. Take care.
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KattMomma, I am sorry you are having a hard time watching your son struggle. I am writing you from the US, so, it is possible we have differences in our school program. But, we have 504's here in the US...so, sounds like we are similar. I have 2 kids (13 yr old daughter in the 8th grade and 16 year old son in the 10th grade). Both are on 504's for different reasons. We have considered alternatives to traditional school at times for both, however, I am a fan of public schools for some of the reasons noted in the other posts - it develops our kids interpersonal and life skills. It sounds like your son is on par and even advanced academically, which is assuring he is coping well in his environment. Also, the fact that he says "the kids are nice" is also a good thing that he is not being bully'ed, but, has yet to develop a close group of friends. You mentioned video games, which caught my attention. In my opinion, the video game culture and access kids have today can be super fun and a release, but, dangerous at the same time. My 16 year old son was obsessed with video games during elementary school years up through the ~7th grade timeframe. Had we not given him structure, he would have spent his entire day and free time in his video games. Early on, we let him self manage his time. But, in the 4th grade timeframe, we realized it was almost a "drug" causing him to check out from life and human interaction. So, we limited his time to 1 hour during the week and 2 hours on the weekend. We had to regularly explain it was not a punishment, but, for his own good - "immersing yourself in anything with isolation is not good for the heart, mind and soul". While he did not like it, he accepted our reasoning. At times, we would use the "computer time" allowed as a punishment if he acted up (normal kid stuff) and we would take away all of us computer time. I only share this note because when we took away his computer time, he was a totally different kid - in an awesome way. We'd always point this out to him and oddly enough, he agreed he was different when he was not on his computer time. During the 7th grade timeframe, he changed into a different person completely - got a new group of friends and rarely games at all now. My wife and I talk all the time now how glad we were that we put some boundaries on the computer time. My son has a buddy that lives in different part of the country that he used to "game" with all the time in elementary school. Their entire relationship was a gaming relationship. His buddy had no boundaries on his computer time playing as much as 8 hours a day when school was out. That boy is now 15 and still games all the time with continued isolation. IMHO, we are doing our kids a favor when we put boundaries on anything that is to much and taking away from other aspects of growing up. I also wanted to comment - Introverts Rock! :-) I'm saying this as a hard core introvert. I learned early in my professional career the actual psychological meaning on these terms introvert/extrovert, which interesting enough has little to do with our ability to be "social", but, more specifically to "where we draw our energy from". Introverts recharge the batteries and draw energy from themselves and within needing down time, alone time, or time with a small group. Where extroverts draw their energy from others in social settings. As adults, introverts have abilities extroverts don't and vice versa. I enjoy being an introvert and personally believe it has shaped my life in a positive way where my life has largely been shaped by my internal strength, values, and close family and friends. In my professional life, you would never know I am an introvert because we develop people skills just life extroverts. My wife is a hard core extrovert, which works well for us. My only advice on the fact your son calls himself an introvert is he not look at that as a bad thing - it is how God made him and will be a strength for him as he grows up. On the home school / public school topic, I don't think there is a right or wrong answer - both can be good depending on your sons needs. But, based on the little I know from your post, I think public school could be the best thing for him. If he is progressing academically, he is "safe", and moving through life - I am not sure home school will fix anything. In contrast, removing him from an environment where he is around peers could further isolate him and void him of life experience that will shape him. Middle school years suck. They are so hard for early teens - flood of hormones, they lose and gain a new identity, their body completely changes, and they are trying to figure out who they are. That is the hard truth about transitioning from youth to adult, which our kids need love, support, encouragement, and acceptance. They need our wisdom to teach them and empower them in their strengths and lead them away from self-deprecating "labels". The last comment I will provide for consideration is if your son is struggling (sadness, depression), counseling may be helpful for him. We supported my son in the 2nd grade, 4th grade, and 6th grade in counseling. He didn't want to do it, but, it showed him we were there for him and gave him a place where he could process what was going on in his head. He had a "team" in the home and outside the home that was For Him, and educated my wife and I how to support him. Additionally, outside the 504 Meetings with the School - we regularly meet with our kids teachers so they know what we see at home and we get the benefit of what they see at school. I am so grateful to the teachers and the care they have for our kids. And, they appreciate the open discussion and teaming with us. Being proactive on depression is important for the age of your son - If you think that is what he needs. We have had a tough experience with our daughter who is battling depression, but, I am glad we have invested in counseling for both our kids. KattMomma, I can tell your heart is hurting for your son and I am so sorry for that. I can tell you are very invested in your son and supporting him in any way possible. Take care and sending you good vibes and prayers for the US.
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Papa Bill - Thank you for your supportive words and response. I have greatly appreciated all the comments. I hear you on residential treatment. I really do. And, I have listened earnestly to the advice we have gotten in this area. Prior to my daughters on August 25th, I had actually been researching facilities across the US. I've got a great employer and I worked part time over a 2.5 week period of time so I could invest the time required to research residential programs. I talked to more than 25 programs across the US and likely spent 100 hours researching these programs on the phone/internet. I also flew across country to do a site visit for a few and drove to neighboring states to visit some. I've not taken this decision lightly. In fact, it is one of the things that keeps me up at night - can we do it at home? I will share a bit more on my struggle - but, please don't take my comments here as debating the topic. I NEVER want anyone reading this now or in the future to take it as a case against residential treatment. I fully agree with the benefits of these programs. In fact, my now 49 year old brother had his live saved as a teen as a result from going to a residential program (drug use and behavior problems for him back in the late 1980's / early 1990's). In my research and site visits - I have met some of the most amazing people over the last month at these residential programs and received wonderful counsel. My struggle is the diversity of teens that make up these programs. I have found the majority of these programs are serving teens and families where there are environmental or other behavior aspects at play - substance abuse, social problems back home, behavior problems, or gaps in the family unit. I have certainly learned these programs have teens that are *only* dealing with depression and anxiety (i hate writing that word *only*, because we know how traumatizing that is). But, I find that depression often leads to or results from "environmental" aspects that make the situation more complicated. Those "environmental" aspects are not part of my daughters story (yet), she is dealing with something chemical / hereditary. I mentioned earlier that we placed my daughter in 2 different Outpatient Treatment Programs. The first was Jan through March, 5 days a week for 6 hours a day. The second was June through August, 4 days a week for 4 hours a day. We received some goodness from these programs, but, we also experienced some challenges for my daughter. My daughter was largely in a peer group of people that had challenges in their life or back home that she was not dealing with. We teach our kids to love everyone - we are all in God's family. But, her hearing "war stories" of peer teens (in many cases 2 to 5 years older), she started to shape her identity around this environment. She heard horrific stories of struggle that seamly changed her personal standard and outlook on life. It's hard to bifurcate where her mental health simply worsened on it's normal path, vs. where she may have been influenced by a peer group of experiences she had never heard before. But, my assessment is it made her life more challenging as a result of being in a different peer group. My daughter is close to her family. She has an amazing group of friends that are at our house all the time. She has a solid church group and frequently goes to lunch/dinner with her leaders in the middle school program. And, she relies on this environment for strength. So, after looking at residential programs - I saw a lot of goodness we could not offer. But, there was some goodness we can offer. One of the biggest benefits is my daughter would be stripped of the distractions she uses to "self medicate" herself into distraction. For my daughter - that is mindless social media/iphone stuff. It is checking out in isolation alone with her thoughts. It also included unhealthy habits of not taking care of herself: diet, lack of exercise, lack of healthy processing, journalling, etc. Residential programs also offer an amazing safety plan / environment where these teens have 24/7 support and structure. So, my wife and I drew up a 90 day plan on a 3 page document were we first agreed on what we would do. We reviewed this in detail with my daughter, who was fully unboard. I will spare the details of the 3 page document - but, it includes stuff like her living in a confined space in our house where we are always with her, she sleeps with my wife, her social life is at our house, no iphone/social media, exercise required, healthy diet, etc. I won't pretend we are our own "residential" program. But, we tried to take what we learned in our research of residential programs and put that structure in our home. We are also doing individual and family counseling multiple times a week. Our counselor has been very gracious and patient with us - she still recommends residential treatment, but, is working with us in this format. I am sure many counselors would boundaries on how far they would go with a family doing our approach, and rightly so. So, that's our plan right now. My wife and I are still selecting a residential program as our "plan B" in case this does not progress. My "fear" tells me we need to send her to residential. But, my head and heart tell me we can do more. I am trying to avoid listening to my "heart", but, listen to my head and seek God's intervention. My prayer has been to "hit me over the head with a board" if we are making the wrong decision. God hasn't hit me over the head yet :-), so, working the plan. That said, I still have my doubts every day. But, my daughter is in week 3 of our plan now and doing ok. She likes having a plan and is onboard with it. I've seen her manage things during this time she was not able to manage before. Granted, her trauma of a few weeks ago gave her motivation and that motivation will wear off. It took us over a year to get here and I know it will take us over a year (perhaps a life) to get her out of here. Anyway, thanks for listening. And I want to repeat for other parents who may read this - I have learned so many good things about residential programs. These programs are filled with wonderful people and provide a great environment for teens. I've talked to parents and teens that have been through them and heard amazing stories. Residential programs are good places. But, given where my daughter is and her commitment to our family - we haven't gotten there yet. Our decision is not so much a Yes or No, but, a Not Now when we think we can do more as long as my daughter is committed. Take care.
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Taylor-RO, Appreciate you checking in. I don't think I've taken anything new in terms of my daughter, but, certainly received encouragement and hope my spirit needed. Just writing it down can do that and having others respond in kind is helpful in itself. DadFad and others said it - taking care of yourself has to be priority. While obvious at different parts of this year + journey, it can be the hardest thing to do. We want to pour everything into our kids that we have and when that is not enough, we want to empty ourselves in the hope it can help our kids. But, that can be is a losing strategy with limits. Our kids need our strength. They need our level head. They need the home to be a place of peace they are secure in as they work on themselves. They are not capable of worrying about us. I have learned over this past year those who suffer from mental illness have a very difficult and long journey, for some it may be there lifestyle. I keep reminding myself of that fact and during this journey, one of the most important things I can do for my daughter is to keep myself healthy - spiritually healthy, physically healthy, emotionally healthy. I have also been reminded of my limits. I can't do this alone and God will not always "fix" things. Sometimes, he just grows us - in character, in humility, and in relationship to him. Taylor-RO, as you said - we have done so many things in therapy, medicine, environment, and through relationship with our daughter. While I would have gladly accepted new advice on solutions - I got what i needed from people's response and that is the reminder and suggestions in taking care of myself. Thank you.
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Maruko, Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. Yep, I'm that guy you describe! I sought help about 6 months into this process with my daughter. I became aware of the fact that my "strengths" (problem solving, level head, analytical one who seeks solutions) were hurting rather than helping. Plus, they were actually putting distance in the influence I could have with my daughter. I knew I needed to learn how to parent this situation for the betterment of my daughter and support to my wife. About 4 weeks into that counseling process, that counselor in Feb/March laid it on me and nailed me to a tee! She was awesome and I loved that she did it. But, I am thick headed....I always want to revert back to solutions. God is humbling me quite a bit. He is teaching me self reliance is a bad thing, when I have learned my whole life that is what men do - provide, solve, protect. God did not cause my daughters depression, but, I have to remind myself he is using it to work on me. And, he will use it with my daughter, my son, and wife. I had the unfortunate experience as a teen that my older brother had problems (drugs/behavior) and younger sister was severely depressed. But, honestly - those experiences shaped my whole life. They led me to Jesus. Led me to find my wife. Shaped me as the dad that I am. While a rough experience as a teen, I'm counting on God to do the same in this rough period - shape my son, shape my daughter, and grow my wife and I. As I write these things above, I want to point out - I am more writing them for myself....telling myself...convincing myself....reminding myself. First time "forum poster", so, I should be careful using it as my personal "journal" :-). But, like you said Maruko - it is helpful to process what's in your heart and head. You mentioned your post did not have "constructive suggestions", it totally does. The empathy and understanding alone gives me help. Your encouragement to share is empowering. You mates are likely in bed now on the other side of the world, but, the reading your comments over here in the US are starting my day off with an encouraged mindset. So, thank you!
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Chris, Thank you so much for your response. Your comments giving me "permission" were encouraging in an unexpected way. This feeling of paralysis and brokenness is so overwhelming. I've been in this sort of place at various points during this ~1 year process, but, it is just so heavy right now. Also, your comments about taking care of myself are so true. I started counseling for myself back in January, which after a few months, my wife and I started doing counseling together. In that cycle, all recent counseling is focused on my daughter and our approach as parents. My "rock button" was on July 7th this year. At least that is when I admitted it to myself, I admitted it to my wife, I started wrestling with God to reconcile my anger with him. I'm grateful July 7th happened, because God and I have been spending time together every morning (for hours most mornings because I don't sleep well). I'm grateful that day happened before the event of 2 Sunday's ago because I could not have handled the past few weeks without him. I am lucky to have a good church that accepts "messy life"; they are real people. The hard part is not so much sharing, but, accepting what follows. Perhaps my stubbornness or me being more accustomed to be on the other side of helping people, but, I have really struggled receiving support. And finding what support I actually need has been confusing. So many good intentioned people offer support, but, they know my daughter, they are confused and stunned as I am. They look to help me, but, it feels "crowded" when they are around and I need the space. They also don't know what to think of me in this place - the "broken me" is a stranger to them. It gets uncomfortable, I feel like I have to show them strength, and move on...back to the unhealthy isolation. Between July 7th and August 25th (the event), I made myself the priority and (naturally), I was a better support to my family. Then August 25th happened and it broke my world, how did I not see it coming, so many emotions. I slipped back to anger, isolation, frustration. But, I picked up my Bible 2 days ago and got back to it - focusing on my own healing, relying on God, and was reading a book from Rick Warren that led me make this post. Seems silly, I could reach out to my church community, a friend, our counselor, but, this felt like an easier step. One step at a time I guess. I've found writing stuff down holds me accountable to breaking down what's in my head/heart. I journal in my quiet time. But, thought I'd bring it to a forum knowing others are processing the same stuff. Brother, thank you for sharing, for encouraging, for permission, and reminders. Thanks for sharing about your son and your wisdom gained from your experience. God grows us from life experiences, he draws us closer to him through grief, he develops our character through life experience (good and bad), and he gives us experience so we can help others having been in those places before. Thank you for sharing yours, it is helpful. Take care.
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New member from the US. Every time I google forums for help, this Aussie board pops up. So, joining you mates (silly American here attempting local chat). BTW, I've never done forums or internet postings like this. But, I feel a need to go somewhere to write this with hopes of insight, learning from experiences, and perhaps a little bit of hope.
It's been 13 months since my now 13 year old daughter had depression enter her life. She is a lovely girl - strong social life, loves Jesus, perfect child all around with no environmental aspects influencing her depression that we can identify. After 12 months of counseling and 2 intensive outpatient programs for depression, her life continues to be wrecked by this "ghost" we call depression. Our hypothesis is that it is chemical/adolescence stuff combined with hereditary. She attempted suicide 2.5 weeks ago. Thank God, it was an ill attempt and she immediately regretted it. However, it was significant....ambulance, hospital stay, and recovery taking its time. Her fear gave her temporary motivation to fight; as my wife and I feared, that is phasing out and the "ghost" in her continues to make her life so difficult. Short of her going to a residential treatment program, we have tried just about everything we know of. We did a full neuropsychological evaluation, we've done blood work, we've ensured fitness, diet, sleep, we've eliminated the self medication of social media, tried multiple medications, prayed and prayed. But, she remains in this dark spot. My wife and I continue to fight the recommendation that most in the mental health field recommend - residential treatment. My daughter has a strong and healthy group of friends, a strong support group at our church, a good relationship with her entire family. But, I am starting to question if we can give her what she needs at home - I hate even writing that idea down.....that we may not be able to care for our daughter. That has always been my mission in life.
Worse, I am falling apart. I've always been the strong, fix it and persevere guy. But, I have lost it. My wonderful wife has become the powerhouse in the family, but, she is struggling and I am letting her down. After my daughters suicide attempt, my 16 year old son is struggling having missed half of the school days in the past 2.5 weeks. What gives?!
Over the past 3 months, I've gone through the process "mad at God", forgive and reconcile with God, and seeking personal growth through this life experience knowing God grows us through difficult times. Thank God that started 3 months ago because I'm not sure how i would have handled the past few weeks.
I am fearful of this place I am in. I fear not being able to maintain my job. I have gone from being productive and enjoying every aspect of life......to being unproductive and nearly unable to do life. I know God's got this, he's got my daughter, son, and wife. I really do know that....but, just struggling to climb out of the paralysis of not knowing what to do.
Wow - I laid it out there, perhaps some therapy in just writing that. Sorry mates for the downer post, but, I was drawn to this board in reading some of the other posts and felt it was a safe place to lay it down.
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