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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Hi @ahouseof3 ,
I just thought I would quickly check in with you, and see how you are feeling today? I have a daughter who's a similar age (mine is 12), and I can only imagine how distressing it must be as a parent to have your child experiencing this kind of trauma at school.
I hope you're able to get some answers from her school, and hopefully get some support for both of you moving forward. In my experience, approaching either the year advisor, guidance counsellor, or assistant principal generally seems to get the best results - as you'd be aware, most schools should have pretty good frameworks to address bullying. Ideally, they should be willing to work with you both to support your daughter, make sure she feels safe, and address the unacceptable behaviour with the students.
That being said, I also know this doesn't always happen. We do have some really good resources on both ReachOut Parents, and ReachOut schools, around these issues. If you think it would be helpful I'd be happy to share some more, but here's a few as a starting point:
ReachOut Schools: Bullying
What to do if your teen is being bullied
Cyberbullying and teenagers
I imagine it would have felt very upsetting hearing that your daughter has been self harming, even if it's something that you deal with as a Youth Worker it is often different when it's your own child. Are you concerned about your daughter's safety at all?
I hope you're feeling a bit better today - also just a quick note to let you know I moved your post to another part of the forums, just so you can get more support from other parents. I hope that things are feeling a bit calmer for you today, we are always here if you want to talk through things or connect with other parents.
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Hi @Midwestmom ,
My heart absolutely goes out to you reading this post I'm also a mother, my oldest daughter is a little younger than yours, so just on the verge of those tricky teenage years.
I am hearing so much guilt from you - and I really do understand those feelings! Mother guilt is unlike anything else I've ever experienced, from the moment my children were born. It comes from a place of immense love, and I know that I would literally take a bullet for my children.
That being said, I would really encourage you to try and treat yourself as you would treat your best friend - with compassion, kindness and understanding.
What I'm hearing from your post is that things got quite complicated for you when you realised that your daughter was in love with someone who quite possibly was toxic - or at least ,it wasn't the relationship you'd want for someone that you love so much. My daughter isn't quite at the dating age yet but we do have a lot of conversations about respectful relationships, consent, and making sure that she knows that she can always come to me if she needs support, no matter what.
I really love these resources to frame these tricky conversations with our young people:
Help teenagers have respectful relationships
Help your teenager develop boundaries
Building skills to help your teenager through a breakup
Your daughter knows that you love her unconditionally, and though I don't know either of you personally, I can hear that you are a strong and loving parent. I suspect that forgiveness will come, in time.
I just want you to know that you're not alone- parenting is absolutely the hardest 'job' I've ever had in my life.
Do you have much support for yourself @Midwestmom ? You truly do deserve to know that you're not alone, that you haven't ruined things - and that we all make mistakes. I make mistakes with my kids ALL of the time - but I always try and model for them that I am human, that I love them, and that if I stuff up, I will try and fix it.
I will also tag some other parents who've experienced similar challenges - you are not alone, and this community is a really safe and supportive space to get support
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HI @June68 ,
That sounds like a really complex situation, and I can hear how hard you are working to manage a relationship with a really difficult ex partner, and your young people and their emotions. I can hear that you have a lot of insight into what might lie underneath your ex's behaviour - but I can also acknowledge that having some level of understanding of things like narcissistic traits doesn't mean that it's any easier to cope with. It sounds really tough, and I feel for you a lot.
I'm also a parent whose child has an absent biological father and all of the associated complexities that come with that, so I can really empathise a lot with what you're facing.
One piece of advice that I was given when my eldest was having a rough time was that I needed to remember that I couldn't regulate her emotions for her- that didn't mean that it was OK for her to act terribly, but it reminded me that our teens aren't as capable of regulating their emotions as we are as parents. So when I focus on regulating my own feelings and reactions in a situation, it does seem to help calm things down.
I'm also hearing that you are doing a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of having to compensate for your ex's behaviour - mopping up someone else's mess is exhausting, draining and sometimes thankless work in my experience. I have also been there, unfortunately.
But you are also doing a wonderful thing for your children in providing them with stability, consistency, and at least one parent who is reliable and meets their emotional needs. Unfortunately it also means that you may also bear the brunt of their frustrations, or in the case of your daughter, even experience hostility.
The dynamic where your daughter also sees herself as her dad's protector also sounds really hard for you to navigate.
We do have some content pieces that might be helpful, that have been developed with experts in this area
Managing family conflict; a video with a psychologist
Family conflict and teenagers
I also wanted to ask if you have any support for yourself to help you navigate this really difficult and fraught dynamic? A skilled counsellor can be a wonderful ally and you also deserve to feel supported.
Finally I did also want to say, that children , and young people, often act out the most to the people who make them feel the most loved and secured. The fact that your daughter has been treated in such an inconsistent and unpredictable manner by your ex may mean she doesn't feel secure enough to express her anger to him -but she knows that you love her unconditionally. So, she can express that to you. It can be heartbreaking as a parent to be faced with that kind of anger and hostility I know
If you think it would be helpful to get some one on one support, we do have a parents one on one support service you can access here - it's totally free of charge and available to all parents and carers of young people aged 12-18 in Australia.
I can also vouch for Relationships Australia as a great place to start for skilled family counsellors.
We are always here to listen, and I hope that talking a bit about what's been happening for you has been helpful- being a sole parent can be really lonely and isolating sometimes I know.
Do you have any activities that you enjoy/ do for yourself to give yourself some time to recharge?
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Hi @sgrad ,
My heart went out to you reading your post, that sounds like an incredibly difficult set of circumstances that you and your family are having to navigate. It sounds like you've been a wonderful, supportive and loving grandparent and parent to your daughter in a challenging time.
I'm hearing that things really escalated for you all recently, and I can imagine it would be been distressing and traumatic to have your grandson who you love become violent with you. It can be beyond difficult when our loved ones are struggling but don't accept that they need help, and even worse when that turns into violent conflict.
Can I ask if you're feeling safe around him now that he's not living with you? That must have been terrible, especially when you're now hearing that he's telling other people things that aren't true.
We do have some resources that might be helpful for you that give some practical advice :
What to do if my teenager doesn't want help
Anger and teenagers
How to calm down an angry teenager
It's also so important that you're supported through this - do you have family and friends who can support you? I'm hearing that you're also having physical symptoms which sounds really distressing - have you chatted to your doctor about this?
We're an Australian service but I'd be happy to look at options for you - or if you'd like to connect with some other parents in a similar boat, we have this space:
Connect and chat with other parents and carers: what do you do when your teenager refuses to get help?
You're not alone, and I hope that we can help support you in some way. Thanks so much for posting and sharing your story
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HI @zbapmom ,
I have to say, I don't think I have ever related so strongly to a post here before.
I am also a parent, my oldest child is 12 - and so much of what you are describing resonates really deeply with me! It's a wonderful age in so many ways, but oh my goodness, it can be SO challenging as a parent at times as well.
What I'm hearing from your post is that you're currently in a bit of a cycle of conflict, that seems to centre around you wanting him to do something, and him not listening- have I got that right? It sounds like you're someone who doesn't usually yell, but finds themselves turning into 'that' screaming, yelling parent sometimes.
I hear you.
12 year olds are in bodies that are changing SO rapidly, brains that are adjusting to a new cocktail of hormones that are changing literally every single day, and frontal lobes that haven't finished wiring up yet. In fact, we now know that our brains don't finish developing until we are 25 years old. And the stuff that's affected is the things that as parents can be maddening - the ability to look at consequences, the ability to plan out tasks for the day, controlling impulse and emotions, and general higher level rational thought.
I also hear you that some mornings, we don't have a choice - we have to get out the door to work/church/other commitments- so it is entirely reasonable to have some boundaries and clear consequences.
I'm wondering if you've been able to chat to your son when you're both calm, for example when you're driving with him somewhere in the car, or hanging out in one of those rare good moods? When we're in the middle of a fight, our brains can go into flight/fight/freeze mode and it's super hard to have a rational conversation! But it can be easier once tempers have eased... if you like, I also have some articles here that might be helpful in having those chats as well as some really practical strategies that we know can be useful:
Help your teen stick to a routine during COVID-19
Family conflict and teenagers
Make conflict constructive
The last thing I wanted to add - is it sounds like you truly are doing a great job, it is SO hard sometimes. I have found self care as a parent crucial to both maintaining my own sanity, and allowing myself to regulate my own emotions. A wise friend (who's also a psychologist) reminded me that as parents, we can't regulate our kids' emotions for them. But we can learn to regulate our own, and it's also important to be gentle with ourselves. Some days, parenting is the hardest job I've ever done in my life, and that's OK. The fact that you're posting here shows you're a wonderful parent.
Do you have much support for yourself - close friends, family, a counsellor? Sometimes just having someone to lean on when it's all a bit hard is HUGE, and you can always come here to chat about what's happening. You are definitely not alone in feeling this way @zbapmom and we're glad you found our forums
It looks like you're not in Australia, is that right? I'm happy to have a little look around at supports that may be available/ helpful in your area, if you'd like that.
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HI @Yampots ,
I'm so sorry to hear that your daughter has been having such a tough time - it sounds like you are loving, compassionate, and caring parents. The fact that you were able to have these really difficult conversations with her is such a protective factor for her- we know that when young people are able to open up to the people that they love about what is happening for them, they usually have much better outcomes than those who aren't able to tell anybody what's going on.
Self harm can be very confronting for parents, and it sounds like you were also having to deal with a lot of other stressful things like your younger son having COVID and her having to move to her Aunt's house. We often hear from young people that they turn to self harm as a coping mechanism, and I'm hearing that this may be the case for your daughter as well.
We have some resources to help parents to support their teens who are experiencing these urges to harm themselves:
Self harm and teenagers
Positive coping skills for self-harm
It sounds like you and your family are already doing a lot of what professionals suggest to support their young people- and it is wonderful to hear that she was able to make the decision to keep herself safer. One thing that can be very powerful is having a safety plan that she can make either alone, with a counsellor or therapist, or even using an app like BeyondNow
I also just wanted to let you know that I had to make a few small edits to your post, to keep it in line with our Community Guidelines.
How are you feeling today, @Yampots ? We're glad you were able to come here and open up about what's been happening for you - it can be so isolating and scary when our kids are going through tough times. We're here to listen, you're not alone
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@GW-QV75 @Hopesprings123 that's a really tough one - I think we do have a lot of young people who are true digital natives, and are more comfortable online. It can feel incredibly confronting to see a mental health professional for the first time for anyone- let alone a young person, who may never have had those types of conversations.
I'd be really interested to hear a bit more about what is happening for your kids - sometimes being curious, and exploring why they feel the way they do without judgment or anger (I'm aware this is much easier said than done!!) can give us surprising insights. I know that sometimes I'll assume my daughter is against something for one reason - and it will turn out I've got it completely wrong.
The reason I ask that is also because there are online options for mental health treatment, which are really well supported by evidence, and are increasingly popular with young people. These range from things like early intervention and online peer support, like our Online Community for ReachOut Youth, to individual counselling with a psychologist or counsellor online.
eHeadspace and Kids Helpline both offer online models, either via email or webchat, and there's also an increasing amount of telehealth mental health professionals. So they may be more comfortable talking to someone over zoom, for example, than having that confronting experience of going to a psychologist's rooms or Headspace centre.
Does any of that resonate with you? I'd be happy to explain more about some of those different options if that would be helpful, or you can also read more and link to those services here.
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Hi @kellyschoey ,
Gosh that sounds hard- hopefully some other parents with boys will be able to share their experiences here. I am wondering if you've looked into any programs that TAFEs offer, or some of the hybrid options (for example, in NSW there are some places that are designed for kids who don't thrive in traditional schooling, they offer a blended model that combines vocational education/ practical skills and the basic requirements for year 10)
What do you think your son would love to do, if he was able to choose anything at the moment?
The law varies slightly across different states, but my understanding is that most states will require kids to be in formal education at his age. However different schools do offer some really creative options to appeal to kids who don't necessarily thrive at school - for example the high school my daughter's about to start at offers a range of vocational programs the whole way through high school. Younger kids are allowed to 'work' in the school cafe, then there's options for kids to complete a range of vocational certificates and qualifications in areas like childcare, hospitality, retail, and horticultural studies. I definitely agree with you that some kids just don't thrive in classroom only learning!
Would you like me to have a little look around at programs that might be helpful? Have you connected with the student support services at your current school? Most TAFES and universities can also offer advice and help over the phone for your particular circumstances as well, so that might be another avenue that's worth looking at. Thanks so much for joining the conversation here- hopefully some other parents will be able to add their experiences as well
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Hi @Missy5 ,
I really feel for you, we hear from a lot of parents about how draining, stressful and exhausting it can be when you have a young person who's refusing to go to school.
It sounds like you've had a rough time with your living situation too, and I'm so sorry to hear that the situation with your ex ended the way it did. You sound like such a strong, loving mum, and it must be incredibly difficult when you've tried hard to find ways to find support and help for your daughter.
You mentioned that your daughter said she was being bullied, and that she was getting into fights at her old school. Is that something that's been an issue for her in the past, or is this a more recent thing? Do you think she'd be open to chatting with a counsellor or psychologist about what's happening for her?
I also wanted to let you know that we have a dedicated space on our forums here, just for parents to discuss school refusal in a safe space, with other people who are going through the same thing. We know how isolating and frustrating it can feel when this is happening for your family, and it can help a lot to hear from other parents who are walking the same road as you at the moment. I've also added in some of our self help articles including some videos from psychologists who are really experienced in supporting parents in this area
Here's that space:
Connect with other parents: School refusal
As a parent myself, I would also suggest that being persistent with the school around the need to make sure your daughter is supported. Given that she's under 16, there's a legal obligation to go to school and we hear from other parents that school counsellors/ year advisors/ wellbeing coordinators can be great people to help you all come up with a plan to help support your daughter. That being said, I know that sometimes these services can be overloaded - does your daughter's school have a school counsellor or psychologist?
You sound like a strong mum who's a wonderful advocate for your daughter in a really difficult time, and I'm hearing that you've been under a lot of pressure - do you have much support for yourself? We are always here to talk or vent, or I'm also happy to look for other professional support services that might be a good fit for you if you think that would help.
Wishing you all the best @Missy5
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Hi @Ellie67 ,
Gosh I can really relate when you say that curious chats aren't always possible! I have a 12 year old (going on 16 some days!), and while I would say that generally our relationship is good, there are some conversations that she absolutely refuses to have.
I'm hearing how much you love and care for your daughter, and I don't think we ever stop worrying about them. It sounds like she is a strong minded, intelligent, and determined young person - and those are all wonderful qualities! But they can also make parenting challenging at times ;)
I did have one idea, which may be a bit out of left field. I'm hearing that a lot of your concerns stem from being worried about her safety. Do you think she'd be interested in doing a practical class in self defence/ martial arts? When I was in high school (at an all girls school) at a similar age, the school arranged for an ex policeman to come and teach us the basics of self defence, and techniques that are really effective for personal self defence. it was everything from phrases to use, to physical defence moves. That's now longer ago than I'd like to admit, but I've never forgotten it.
It made me more aware of potential risks, but also made me feel more empowered and in control of my body and my safety. It's relatively uncommon, statistically speaking, to be attacked by a stranger.. but having those very basic skills and techniques helped me a lot. And I'm sure it also made my parents feel much less worried when I went to university a few years later!
This is just a thought- let me know what you think! It's a really tricky space for parents to navigate, and I really feel for you @Ellie67
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Hi @April-snow ,
I'm so deeply sorry to hear that you and your family have been having such a rough time. Supporting a loved one who lives with BPD can be really challenging, and doing that along with managing your own disability/history of trauma/ life in general is huge- you sound like an amazing and caring mum, who's doing the very best she can. I'm really glad you've been able to come here and share what's happening for you.
I'm also hearing that the relationship with your daughter and her behaviour is having major ripple effects for you in terms of your relationship and wider support network- do you feel like you have enough support for yourself at the moment? The reason I ask is that as parents/carers it's often easy for us to keep on giving and sacrificing, and look for support for other people before ourselves - but you can't pour from an empty cup
Unfortunately we are an Australian based organisation, so I don't have a whole lot of knowledge around services where you're based. It looks like you're in the UK, is that right? I am more than happy to have a look around for you for support options that may help both you and your daughter, would that be helpful?
I'm also hearing that when your daughter is very distressed, she sometimes says that she is planning on taking her life. That must be incredibly distressing for you as a parent. Has your daughter engaged with any treatment that can help her learn to regulate her emotions and cope when she's under a lot of stress?
We have some resources that may be helpful in terms of self help for you and for your daughter, I'll just link those here:
When your teen doesn't want help
What to do if your teenager is suicidal
The second article I've linked here outlines some really important, simple and practical strategies for parents and young people when young people are having thoughts of suicide. I'm wondering if you have any concerns for her safety at all?
I'm really glad that you were able to come here today and share a bit about what's been happening for you - we are here to listen, you're not alone.
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Just tagging some parents who've been posting recently around these kinds of issues @Birdwings @JamOnToast @still-learning @BeStrong @RiverGirl @Teenboysparent @GW-QV75 @WorriedMom2021 @Cluskey @Kitkatnkuddles @Mum19 @1solarrae @ERCAAL @Jed123
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It can be incredibly frustrating, heartbreaking and helpless when we can see as parents that our child is struggling- but they refuse to seek help.
This is something we hear a lot from parents, and we thought it could be good to have a space for parents to connect with each other and share what's worked, how they are travelling, and get support in a safe space.
Sometimes, it can be really clear to parents that something isn't right - maybe your teen has suddenly become withdrawn, or stopped seeing their friends. Maybe you're concerned about a specific mental illness- we often hear from parents that they're worried that their child is depressed, or struggling with eating, or highly anxious- help is available, but there's often times when a young person is reluctant to see a professional.
As a parent myself, I know that my oldest child ( who's 12, going on 16!!) will sometimes absolutely refuse to discuss things. Or they won't want to engage at all with any kind of professional, especially if it's something personal.
As a parent it can sometimes be so hard to know exactly how to approach this - and the truth is that there's no one size fits all answer. It can be a long and winding road, of working out what is happening, what the right support might look like, and above all keeping the lines of communication with your young person.
If you prefer to read articles, we have some great resources around this issue:
What to do if my teenager doesn't want help
Getting help for teenagers
Quiz: exploring your support options
Does my teen need professional help?
There's also this great video we made with a psychologist- how do you know if your teen needs professional help, and how can we support them in that process?
So we thought it might be good to create this space for parents to connect- often it's really hard to discuss these sensitive issues with friends and family, especially if you're not quite sure what's happening, or you're worried about your teen finding out you're talking about 'their issues' to other people.
I'm also going to tag some parents who've posted recently around these kind of issues- we'd love to hear your thoughts, and this is a place where people may understand what you're going through.
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Just tagging some parents/carers in this post who've posted recently about school refusal- if you'd like to connect and chat here, this is a safe space to do that. It can also be so helpful for other familes to hear about what's worked, what hasn't, and how you're coping. Hope you and your families are all travelling ok
@Worriedsister96 @qwerty11 @Gebadia @Birdwings @Rissa @roland @mia123 @ykaerF @gdot21
@Blue_fire @Putu1957 @BeStrong @fallingapart @Lenny80
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Hello to our wonderful parents and carers!
We've noticed in recent months that we've been hearing more from parents with young people who've been refusing to go to school - for some, this is something that's been happening for awhile, for others it's something that became much worse after COVID. Some kids really struggle with the transition to high school, and sometimes as parents we may have no idea what is lying behind their kids' refusal to go to school.
What we do know is that it can be stressful , upsetting, and confusing for parents in knowing how to handle this kind of situation. It can also be really lonely- especially if you're not wanting to tell other people in your 'real' life too much about what's happening.
So we thought it could be useful to try something a bit new, and have this space here -
This is your space to talk about school refusal, how it's affected your family, and what things you've tried ! I t's for parents to talk about what's worked for them, what they're going through, and what's been helpful for you and your family- and also to vent if you need to, and get support from other people who've been there too.
If you're someone who prefers to read articles, we have content on school refusal too:
How to help a teen who doesn't want to go to school
Learn how to tackle the school system confidently
I'm just going to tag some parents here who've posted recently about this with their own kids who might be interested in this space- sometimes it can help a lot just to have a safe space to chat. And just a quick reminder that this forum is anonymous, which means we ask that parents don't reveal any identifying info about their kids/ schools/ location.
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Hi @Fritzbom ,
Thanks so much for sharing your experiences here, it can feel so helpless and isolating when our young people are having a hard time and I'm glad you were able to come here . I'm a parent myself now of 2 kids (one who's starting high school next year) - the way you've described what your daughter's going through also reminds me a lot of how my parents were probably feeling when I went through some rough times as a teenager. The weight gain, withdrawal, all of those things resonate with me a lot. In my case, it was a sign that I wasn't really coping, but I also wasn't ready to admit that I probably wasn't actually OK, and did need some help.
It sounds like you're a caring and switched on mum, and that is hugely protective for your daughter. I'm terribly sorry to hear that she lost a friend to suicide as well, that is really tragic, and those ripple effects can really extend through so many people. It's great that she looked for some support after that happened, do you know if she found that helpful?
I'm just going to share some resources that may be helpful as well , if you're ever wanting to talk to her about what happened and about suicide more generally. It's an incredibly hard converstation to have, and some parents worry that it might put those thoughts at front of mind for their own kids, but research shows that it's actually a really protective thing. It's also pretty common to hear from parents that they're worried that their young person is depressed and / or isolated, but doesn't want help, this article has some great tips on things to try in that case.
It can be really hard to see our kids struggling @Fritzbom - do you have people in your life that you can go to for support/ to vent/ get help if you need it? We do also offer a one to one parents support service, I can give you those details if you think that would be helpful. It's free, and is delivered online or via the phone
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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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