What did Inside Out teach us about empathy? What did Robin Williams’ therapist character in ‘Good Will Hunting’ have to teach us about vulnerability? What did Little Miss Sunshine have to teach us about listening and understanding?
If you think back to some of the most meaningful conversations you’ve had with family and friends, you might notice that a lot of them began around a movie or TV show you’d watched together.
We love this latest creation from our content team at ReachOut, where parents and their teens watch clips from films and TV shows and tell us what went right, and how they could've done better.
We'd love to hear from you if you watch this with your teen - did it give you any ideas about how you can communicate better? Did you agree with each other, or did you see things differently? We'd love to hear your thoughts!
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Today is IDAHOBIT day, the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia. It’s a day where we celebrate LGBTQIA+ globally, as well as a day where we recognise the continuing work needed to prevent discrimination.
We know that LGBTQIA+ young people and their families can continue to face discrimination- but we also know that for young people, having family who are supportive and accepting can be massively protective. Parents don’t have to have all of the answers- just knowing that you’re in their corner is something that can be incredibly powerful.
For parents and carers with young people who identify as LGBTQIA+ community, you may feel uncertain about how best to support them.
We have a range of great resources here if you’d like to learn more , and we’d also love to hear from you about how you’ve supported any young people in your life!
A parent’s story about gender identity
Supporting teens with their sexuality
Gender identity and school
If you feel like some extra support would be useful for you and your family, here’s some services to check out:
ReachOut One to One Suppor t: a free coaching service for parents and carers
QLife: Phone and online counselling for LGBTI people, their family and friends
Minus18 : Education and advocacy for LGBTQIA+ young people
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Hi @Cargo2009 ,
So sorry to hear that you're going through similar struggles with your daughter. Can I ask how old she is? It's great that you're going to have a chat with the school- has your daughter seen the school counsellor at all? They can be a really useful person to connect with if you haven't already. How's your daughter finding school socially?
We've also got some useful resources on school refusal , if you're interested in having a read. Keep us posted with how you go with the school, I hope that they're able to give you both some support and assistance
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This Sunday is Mother’s Day, and today is also Word Maternal Mental Health day - an excellent time to take a moment and remember to prioritise our own wellbeing.
This image by Mari Andrew captures beautifully that Mother’s Day can sometimes be a really tricky and complex day for a lot of us. Bereavement, tricky relationships with our own children or parents, parents who have lost children, or if your child is struggling - it can be a day that can bring up a lot of mixed emotions.
So, we wanted to wish all of the amazing mothers in our online community a happy mother’s day, whatever that looks like for you, and encourage you to be gentle with yourself if it is a tough day . Be sure to reach out to friends, family, or support services (including the community here!) if you need to.
If you’re running low on self care ideas, we have some great resources on our ReachOut parents page:
Take this quiz: What kind of self-care is right for you?
How to make self-care a family priority
Self-care and teenagers
We’d love to hear from you:
How are you planning to spend mother’s day?
What’s your favourite way to recharge when times have been tough?
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Hi @Kokobear23 ,
It's great to hear that your daughter found a new counsellor- finding the right fit can be such a gamechanger.
I can imagine that it would feel like such an impossible decision for you, knowing that it's such a complicated situation and that her grandmother may still hold those feelings towards you. I'm wondering if it might be helpful for your daughter to be involved in this decision, and possibly to work through approaches with her counsellor?
You sound like an incredibly strong person - I'm wondering if you have much support for yourself? I was a sole parent myself and I know how draining it can be carrying these worries- do you have people in your life that can help to support you at the moment?
It can feel impossible to find what feels like the 'right' answer in situations like this, but it sounds like you're a loving, strong, and thoughtful parent- and having someone in like you in her corner will be so important for your daughter as she navigates this situation
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It's been a tough few years for a lot of families, and with cost of living expenses continuing to rise, financial pressures are definitely something that can add a lot of stress to family life.
We recently created a guide with MoneySmart for our online community for young people, and thought that it would be relevant to a lot of parents and carers here too.
Talking about your financial situation isn’t always easy, but this is a safe space to open up about what you’re going through. Before we get into this guide w e’d like to acknowledge that there might be some members of our community who are in a financial crisis and need more support.
If it’s a struggle to afford groceries, medication, transport or bills there is help available:
Disaster Assist provides support to people experiencing money stress due to a disaster such as covid , bushfires or floods.
Find where to get some help with food, transport, medication and bills by searching for emergency relief.
Ask Izzy is a search engine that will show you emergency relief available in your area - click the Money help or Food button and follow the prompts.
My Community Directory also shows you local community centres that provide relief.
If you're feeling overwhelmed by debt, financial counsellors can be a great resource- you can call the National Debt Helpline — 1800 007 007, or find a financial counsellor in your area here
This guide is brought to you by our friends at MoneySmart, and we hope these tips give you some practical tools to cope with money stress.
My name is Heidi, I work at the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)
Moneysmart is a free and independent site that provides up-to-date and relevant financial information, designed to be a starting point for people when making financial decisions.
Managing your money can be stressful at times, but not paying attention to your money can make matters worse. If you or someone you know is struggling with finances, here are some steps you can take:
Get to know your money Moneysmart’s Budget planner can help you see how much money you have coming in, how much you’re spending and where you could cut back.
Make yourself a money plan Taking control of your money can feel really empowering. Get into the habit of tending to your finances regularly, making sure you have enough to cover bills and unexpected costs. You might be able to set aside some money for savings every week or pay down a regular portion of your debts if you have them. Download our step-by-step guide Managing your money .
Get help if you need it Speaking to a financial counsellor is free and confidential and can help you sort through your money challenges The earlier you seek help and get back on track, the better. The National Debt Helpline 1800 007 007 is open from 9.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday or you can find a financial counsellor on Moneysmart.
Find out if you're eligible for assistance This page from MoneySmart has a great list of resources for you to check, to see if you and your family are eligible for any regular support, one off payments, or government funded programs that offer low-interest loans and savings plans.
Talk about money with someone you trust Just like mental health, there can be a lot of stigma and shame around challenges with money. Talking about the challenges you face with the trusted people in your life can be a great support. You can call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14 for immediate support
Parents coaching: If your family's under a lot of stress and you feel like you could use some support, our One to One support service for parents and carers could also be helpful- you can find out more about that here
We've also got some great resources on our parents page on helping parents to talk to their teenagers about financial pressure, and coping with financial stress:
Teaching your teens good money habits
Talking to a teenager about money issues
Dealing with financial stress
We'd love to hear from you- how does financial stress affect your family? Are there any strategies you've found helpful?
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We recently had a guest come and post on our online community for young people to mark Neurodiversity Celebration week. We thought this piece had a lot to offer to parents and carers who may be neurodiverse, parenting young people who are neurodiverse, or both- so we wanted to share it here as well.
Neurodiversity or neurodivergent is an umbrella term that captures the experience of Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Tourettes, OCD and more. We welcome anyone who can add to that list to do so, and if you fit anywhere in it, we'd love to hear about how you celebrate your neurodiversity 🎉
We have a guest who'd like to share their thoughts about neurodiversity as a peer and psychologist to get the conversation going. Our guest will be sharing their story and some tips for those of you who live with ADHD. Check it out below 👇🏽
Ahoy! My name is Lauren (call me Loz), and I’m both a psychologist and a neurodiverse person living with ADHD, generalised anxiety and a tic disorder. I’m so stoked to be thinking and talking about how ADHD can impact upon mental health, and sharing some of what I’ve learned about managing this over the years. Before we get into it, I think it’s important to note that it’s not all doom and gloom. In some ways living with ADHD presents with unique challenges and difficulties, but it's also one of the things I love the most about my brain.
Neurodiversity is awesome! My ADHD allows me to hyper fixate on things that I love, it makes me sensitive to my loved ones around me, and it means that my brain is creatively wired to come up with a bunch of different movie ideas every day. ADHD is something to navigate but also something to celebrate. It’s part of what makes us unique. Whether you’re someone who has ADHD themselves (pre or post diagnosis) or knows someone who does, I hope that this little piece is helpful in shedding light on some possible tips and tricks of the trade.
1. The most helpful thing I’ve learnt about managing my mental health in the context of ADHD is to understand which parts of the day are hardest and easiest for me and to adjust my day and more importantly my expectations accordingly. For me, I take a while to get going in the morning and typically have a dip of energy around lunch time. I do my best work from 10am-2pm, so I try my darnedest to save harder tasks for these times. I find that not only does this make me more productive, but it limits my anxiety around making sure I get these tasks done and making sure things don’t build up.
2. The second is all around understanding yourself and trying to communicate this with loved ones so they can support you the best way possible. For some people, this might mean understanding how your menstrual cycle impacts on symptoms, or if there are certain triggers/situations that are draining or anxiety provoking for you. Because the ADHD brain is sensitive to any perceived threat in the environment, this can mean that stressful situations can truly take the wind out of us, as we’re constantly scanning our surroundings. This might look like journaling your mood, concentration/other symptoms, and correlating this with times of the day or month. Try to include people close to you in what you learn about yourself so that they can be more sensitive to your needs at different points in time. View yourself with compassion during times that are hard for you, and adjust the demands that are placed on you where you can.
3. There is no shame in asking for help and there are plenty of great therapists out there that specialise in this area. If you’re not sure where to start, I recommend having a look at the APS Find a Psychologist website as a starting point. Neurodiversity is great, and we owe it to ourselves to celebrate it and nurture our mental health all at once.
We'd love to hear from you: what's your experience with neurodiversity? Are there any strategies that you use to help you or your young person manage their mental health?
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Today is Safer Internet Day- it's a global campaign dedicated to creating a safer online world for everyone, aimed at making the internet a safer, more positive place.
In Australia, the eSafety Commissioner is the official coordinator of Safer Internet Day- they have some great resources for parents who are concerned about their young people's safety online.
These include free webinars for parents and carers ,
and a heap of other resources for parents on different aspects of online safety.
The eSafety Commissioner reporting function is also a great resource to use if you or your young person have experienced online abuse or illegal content- in some cases, they will be able to have harmful content removed.
Many parents of young people tell us that it can be really challenging to support their young people around online behaviour- social media and the internet is a central part of a lot of young people's lives and can have a lot of positive aspects, but it's definitely not without its downsides.
ReachOut parents also has a range of resources to help parents and carers who are worried about their young people's safety and wellbeing online:
How to deal with online bullying and your teenager
A parent's guide to Instagram
How to talk to your teenager about sexting
Stay up to date with social media
Social media and teenagers
We'd love to hear from you- how do you feel about your young person's internet use? What kind of boundaries do you
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After a very uncertain two years, it's natural that planning for the future may feel really tough for young people. On our online community for teens, we've been hearing from young people about how a lot of them are struggling a bit with motivation, or feeling really worried about their future plans.
We've put together some resources here that may be helpful for any parents and carers who are looking for ways to support their teens who are worried about the future, or unsure about what comes next.
How to get your teen excited about the future
Helping your teen deal with anxiety about climate change
Work, finances, the future and teenagers
Heling your teen cope with change
Helping your teen adjust to living with COVID-19
Headspace work and study are free programs that support 15-25 year olds to plan a career, find employment, or work towards further education - services include one to one support with careers specialists, to linking in with industry-specific mentors. It's available online or over the phone, and having that kind of practical support can be really helpful to young people who may be about to finish school or further study, and aren't sure what is the best path for them to take.
We'd love to hear from you -how is your teen feeling about the year ahead? I know in my family, my tween is still having slightly mixed feelings about what this year may bring - on one hand, they're really excited to be back at school and in a more 'normal' routine. On the other hand, they still find it hard to get really excited about the year ahead, because they experienced so many cancelled plans and disappointment in the last 2 years. I'm hoping that I can help to support her to build coping skills- as well as doing the same for myself - and that smoother waters lie ahead.
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Hi @nichens ,
This sounds like such a difficult situation for you to navigate- how are things going for the both of you now? I can imagine that it would have been really hard to have those conversations for you- it's great that he was at least open to talking about what's been happening, and it sounds like you're really committed to trying to build up that trust with him. It must have been quite a shock to see the sexually inappropriate messages- we have some resources here that may be helpful to share with him around sexting. This one is aimed at parents, and this piece is written for young people . It sounds like you're doing a great job at talking to him about boundaries and acceptable behaviour online, which is great.
Banning him from devices altogether might be tricky at this stage, do you think that going back to a time limit on his devices might be a workable middle ground?
If you think it might be helpful for you to be able to talk through these issues with a professional, we do offer a free one to one support service for parents, you can find more information about that here.
It sounds like this girl is having a really difficult time at the moment, and I'm wondering if your son is also feeling responsible for her wellbeing - do you know if she has any support at the moment apart from your son?
Wishing you all the best, hope to hear back from you soon
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Hi @Jaine40 ,
I'm so sorry to hear that things have been so tough with your daughter, it must be so distressing to see her behaviour change in this way over the last year. It's great that you've got the support of her doctor- it does sounds like it might be helpful to get some professional advice about her behaviour.
Headspace might be another option that could be helpful for you, they offer free mental health support for young people in their face to face centres, as well as online or phone counselling.
It sounds like you have a lot on your plate with three other kids as well- as you say, it can be so isolating when your young person is having these kinds of challenges. I'm wondering if you have much support for yourself at all? This is a really safe space to talk about what's happening for you.
if you think it would be helpful to talk to someone one to one, we also offer a free one to one support service for parents, you can find out more about that here if you think it could be something you'd like to try.
Wishing you all the best- you sound like a really caring and supportive parent, and it can be so tough when one of your kids is having such a challenging time
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Hi @Jgerrard02 ,
Welcome to the forums :) My heart went out to you reading that post, it sounds like such a difficult situation for you. Do you mind if I ask how old your daughter is?
It sounds like your stepson has some pretty challenging behaviours- has he ever had assistance from a professional like an occupational therapist, counsellor, or child psychologist? Do you think your husband/ your stepson's mom might be open to that at all? I'm just wondering if it may be helpful to
Our community is aimed at older young people aged 12-18, but there's some articles on behaviour management here on Raising Children's Network that might be helpful. They also have a great article here on screen time -
I know that in my family, I definitely find that my kids behaviour can deteriorate if they have too much screen time, it can definitely become pretty addictive. One thing I found helpful was setting some family ground rules as they suggest in the article.
It can be really exhausting feeling like you're alone in setting rules and boundaries, it sounds like it's a really heavy burden for you to carry. You mentioned that therapy sessions with your boyfriend weren't so successful, I'm wondering if you've ever seen a counsellor or therapist by yourself? Do you have anyone in your life that you can talk to about what's happening for you? Sometimes it can be really helpful to have someone neutral to unpack things with - it sounds like things have been really tough, and we're glad you found our forums to get some support.
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Hi @Plzhelpme1996 ,
My heart really goes out to you reading your post, it sounds like an incredibly difficult situation for you as a mother, especially seeing that you're also coping with a new baby. It must feel terrible seeing your sons being treated like this- blended families can be really tough sometimes, but young people and children should be treated with respect and kindness so that they can feel safe and secure in their own home.
Do you mind if I ask how old your sons are?
I'm wondering if you have anyone in your life that could help to support you at the moment, or that you'd feel comfortable sharing what's happening for you at the moment? I can completely understand that might feel really hard, especially if your husband doesn't behave like this in public, but I'm wondering if it may be helpful for you to have some support from people in your life.
If you think it might be helpful to talk to someone about what's happening for you at the moment, Parentline is a free counselling service for parents and carerss, you can call them from 9am - 9pm.
Another resource which may be helpful is Relationships Australia: they can offer counselling and support for blended familes, along with program like Circle of Security which can help parents and carers to build secure relationships with their children.
We'll also be sending you an email shortly, so please keep an eye out for that.
We're glad that you have found our space and were able to share what's happening for you at the moment @Plzhelpme1996 , wishing you all the best, and hope to hear back from you soon.
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It sounds like a really challenging situation for all of you to navigate @goingcrazy2021 , I can hear how frustrated you are. Philippa mentioned the idea of couples' counselling - I know that was something that I found really helpful when my partner and I transitioned into living together as a blended family. Sometimes it can be so valuable to have a safe space where you can talk through things with someone who's removed from the situation.
I'm just curious, what's his relationship like with your daughters? Is there anything that they enjoy doing together?
We're glad that you've been able to share a bit about what's happening for you here @goingcrazy2021 , it can feel really isolating when you're having a tough time at home .
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Hi parents/carers: just tagging parents who've been active recently who may be keen to take part in this activity!
@Evelyn @Birdwings @Imoverwhelmed @enorman @Carol637 @Lady1401 @HumanBeing @Lelsar @Toby98 @Jazzyjennifer @itsamarathon @Fambam83
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Have you ever wondered what is going on in your teen's head, but known that they may not be ready to open up to you just yet? Or have something you're really curious to hear a young person's perspective on- but know that it's not the right time to have that conversation with your own child?
As a parent myself, I've definitely found myself in this situation - especially now that my oldest child is coming up to the teen years, and isn't necessarily wanting to open up to me about everything!
We are incredibly lucky at ReachOut to have a team of dedicated, passionate and generous young people who volunteer on our ReachOut Online Community, which is for young people aged 14-25. They provide peer support to the young people who visit the community, share their own lived experience and mental health journeys, and help young people feel supported and connected.
They've generously offered to answer any questions that parents and carers may have - so if you've ever wanted to hear from a young person, please feel free to add your question in our form below!
No question is too big or too small - anything from friendships, social media, and relationships, to school stress, mental health, and worries about the future. We would love to hear from you!
All questions will be responded to by our Online Community Volunteers- please make sure that you don't include any identifying information, and it's fine to submit questions anonymously.
We will aim to have our first response published by the end of November, and will post responses regularly.
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Today marks the first day of year 12 exams for students in NSW, and other states already have end of year exams underway.
It's been an especially challenging year for Year 12 2021, with the disruptions of COVID impacting their last 2 years of schooling. They've had to navigate learning from home, the loss of normal routines, and navigate the constant uncertainty of the last 2 years. We know that Year 12 students can feel a huge amount of pressure around achieving a certain result, especially if they're wanting to go on to further study.
ReachOut have developed a range of resources to help parents support their young people at exam time:
Helping your teen with study stress during coronavirus
Stories about what happens after high school
7 tips for managing exam stress
It can be really helpful for young people (and their parents and carers) to think more broadly about life after Year 12 results come out - and hear from other young people about the different paths they've taken after high school. A lot of young people may feel that their final result will determine the future path of their lives and careers- but in reality, there's often so many different pathways available, and "success" can mean many different things.
We recently had a discussion on our Online Community for Young people around redefining pathways to success, with two of ReachOut's Youth Ambassadors - as a parent myself, I found it really useful to hear young peoples' perspectives on what success looks like to them, and how they've navigated early adulthood.
If you think this might be helpful for young people in your life, you can read the full chat here.
Some key take aways from the discussion were the importance of self compassion, being open minded about the different paths you can take, and not comparing yourself to other people, or measuring yourself by other people's definition of success.
Some of our favourite quotes from the chat are below:
" work at your own pace. There is such pressure to study full time and work full time and for some, that’s totally achievable and that’s great. But for others there are too many other aspects of life they are trying to juggle and so some-times working part-time and studying part-time, or even just focusing on one of the other can be the way to go. Something I’ve learnt is not to compare yourself to others. Focus on what you can handle, and what is safest and most comfortable for you. I personally felt dropping back the hours I worked and studied was the best for me as it reduced my anxiety, and feelings of being overwhelmed.
Remember it’s a marathon not a sprint."
"But success and satisfaction are both in the eye of the beholder. You can be 100% satisfied with your life but not what others perceive as “successful” and you can also be thriving and unhappy. I think happiness is key. Life is long and full of hardship and I want to live my best life, even if others think I haven’t lived it to the status quo. For me travelling makes me the happiest. When I can do that again, that for me will be success and satisfaction!"
You both sound really successful! As someone who was really successful in school my mental health has made me go 'offtrack' in hitting a lot of life milestones 'in time'. Have you guys ever felt like this, or what do you think of the idea of life milestones in today's society?
For me I grew up feeling like life was prescribed for me - go to school, go to university, graduate, find a job, buy a house, find a partner etc.
What I realised since finishing high school is that there is no age or time you need to get anything done by. I am lucky to be in a job that gives me purpose, but I am still figuring things out for dating and relationships.
Everyone goes through life at their own speed and where you are in life right now is exactly where you are meant to be. Milestones are what you want them to be. You can achieve them at whatever time is right for you.
we all run our own race. I try to remind myself of this regularly. You are still achieving goals even if it looks different to others. Whilst I’m not yet in my career of choice, nor married, or whatever else people consider “successful” I have done a lot of mental health advocacy and overcome incredible mental health obstacles. I have travelled, am studying and I am where I need to be. Working on your mental health counts for a lot.
We are surrounded by constant posts of people doing, achieving, or talking about their “success”. It’s hard not compare yourself but I tend not buy into that so much. I have learnt that everyone goes through life at their own pace. There is no rush.
I aim to live my life the best way I can. I surround myself with family and friends that support and motivate me. In turn, I support my friends and family to succeed in whatever way they want to.
Success is what you make it out to be!
We would love to hear from you:
How are you and your young people coping with the end of year stress?
How has your young person navigated working out their plans for the future? Do they feel a lot of pressure around exams and school results?
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Just tagging some of our parents community who may be interested in this one: it's free to register and attend, the link is in the post below :)
@Birdwings @posimum06 @BeStrong @Pleasehelp101 @Vestaria @Uffers555 @rkt123 @Rissa @Ella21
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In Conversation with ReachOut: Managing teens’ study stress and caring for their wellbeing as a parent
We are really excited to present a new event this week: a live chat on LinkedIn, this Wednesday 20th October. We'd love to see you there- please feel free to share this event with anyone in your network who may be interested!
COVID-19 has impacted all of our lives and, in many cases, our wellbeing too. With disruption to daily routines, a shift to online learning for many and important milestones being missed, it has been a particularly challenging time for teenagers and their families. And, with many students preparing to return to face-to-face learning, many students across the country still have extra challenges to contend with this year. This is especially true for many Year 12 students who are already in exam mode or gearing up for their final exams.
How can parents help manage teens’ study stress and care for their wellbeing (and their own) in the lead up to exams?
Next Wednesday 20 October, ABC’s National Medical Reporter, Sophie Scott will be chatting with ReachOut’s Head of Service Delivery, Jackie Hallan and ReachOut’s Online Community Coordinator, Janine Nelson.This will be an intimate and insightful conversation about study stress, with a focus on Year 12 exams, the return to face-to-face learning and tips for parents.
We will discuss:
the impact of COVID-19 on teens’ education
the impact of study stress on the mental health and wellbeing of teens
transitioning back to face-to-face learning
setting your teen up for study success
practical strategies that can make a difference for teens and their parents.
When: Wednesday, 20 October 12:30pm-1:15pm Where: LinkedIn Cost: Free
Click here to register your interest:
About the guest speakers:
Sophie Scott is a parent and award-winning Australian medical reporter working for ABC TV, radio and online. Her books include Live a Longer Life and Roadtesting Happiness. Sophie is also an Associate Professor (Adjunct) at the University of Notre Dame Medical School, lecturing in health and science communication. You can read more about Sophie at www.sophiescott.com.au and follow her on LinkedIn and on Instagram at @sophiescott2
Jackie Hallan is a parent and the Head of Service Delivery at ReachOut Australia. Jackie leads a team of 15 that combine the evidence and research insights with subject matter expertise and empathy to bring the service to life. Jackie has 15 years’ experience in program management, health promotion and social marketing across cancer prevention and youth mental health. Janine Nelson is a parent and the Online Community Coordinator at ReachOut Australia. Janine works across ReachOut’s online peer support communities for young people aged 14-25, and parents and carers of young people. She has qualifications in psychology and health sciences, and has worked in mental health, disability, and community services for 15 years. Like many Australian parents, she also spent the last four months juggling working from home and supporting her teen daughter’s home learning.
We've also got a great collection of resources to help parents support their young people, whether they're about to sit their final exams, are struggling with home learning, or if they're experiencing mixed feelings about returning to school if you're in a state that's coming out of lockdown:
Surviving Online Learning: A Guide For Families
We hope you're all travelling well - and would love to see you on Wednesday!
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Hi @LadyM and @Roger .
We hear from a lot of parents who are worried about their young people at this age- you're definitely not alone, and it's really great to see that you've both been able to connect here.
The disruptions of COVID have also had a pretty huge impact on young people, especially when it comes to connecting with their friends online/ via their phones, rather than in person - and as a parent, it can be hard to know what behaviour is normal, teenage stuff- and what behaviour is something to be concerned about. I know that my daughter (who's 12, so just at the beginning of the teen rollercoaster!) has definitely been spending more time in her room lately, and more time on screens than we used to be comfortable with - we're currently in lockdown, so part of that is unavoidable.
To some extent, it's quite normal for young people to want to connect with their friendship group, rather than their parents, as they move through adolescence- but it's also important for parents to know what behaviours might be a sign that something's not going so well with their mental health.
In general, if you see a sudden change in your child's behaviour, or they stop doing activities that used to bring them joy, if they have trouble sleeping or are suddenly sleeping much more than normal, or if your gut feeling is that something just isn't "right" with them- it may be time to have a chat with them to see if they are OK. As a parent, you know your child best- though I also definitely acknowledge that it's sometimes also really hard to know what is regular teenage moodiness, and what is a sign of something more !
We do hear this question a lot from parents, and we've worked with psychologists as well as parents to develop a few guides to help parents:
This video is with a psychologist who talks about how to know when your teen needs professional help
This quiz helps parents to work out what type of help might be the best fit for you and your teen
And this is a list of other articles and resources all about how to get teens help, if they do need it
I hope that some of those are helpful for you both- I know that those conversations can also be really tricky to have! Some great advice another parent gave me once was to have those chats while you're doing something with your teen- and I know it's worked really well for me. I find my daughter is much more likely to open up to me when we're doing something together, like going for a drive, having a walk, or even doing the washing up- for some reason it feels much less pressured/ forced.
Wishing you both the best- keep us posted about how you and your daughters are getting on. It can definitely help to vent sometimes- you're not alone, and this is a really safe place to vent/ get advice :)
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Hi @phoneagent007 , @Lightbulb and @Cocoarrarra ,
We're so glad to have you here on our forums, it can feel incredibly isolating when your kids are struggling - @Cocoarrarra we are so sorry to hear that your teen has been having such a tough time, and I hope that you can see from the responses here that you're not alone, and you are absolutely not a lousy parent.
I can hear from your post how much you love your daughter, it must have felt really confronting and frightening to find out that she had been self harming and experiencing thoughts of suicide, as well as having OCD and anxiety. Self harm is something that's often really secretive, and a lot of young people we support describe feelings of shame around having self harmed- and many of them do hide it from their families in particular. It's often something that becomes a coping mechanism that's then really hard to stop, but it sounds like you've done a wonderful job in making sure your daughter is linked in with the right levels of professional supports.
If you're interested in reading a bit more about self harm, we have some resources here on our ReachOut Parents page:
Self Harm and Teenagers
Things to try: managing self-harm
As @Lightbulb has said, you're absolutely not alone, and it doesn't mean you're a bad parent. I know that as a parent myself, there's a natural tendency to blame ourselves or wonder what we could have done differently - especially with mental health issues, but @Lightbulb said it perfectly- all we can do is our best. I know that I am always trying to learn more about parenting, but I also know that there's no such thing as a perfect parent. All we can do is the best we can, and look for support when we need it- exactly like you've done by posting here
@Cocoarrarra I did also want to mention that we do offer a one to one parents coaching service, which may be helpful for you, especially in terms of workshopping ways to help to support your other two kids, and also give you a sounding board to help you through this challenging time. It's a free service and delivered online or over the phone, you can read more about that here if you are interested:
@Lightbulb I wanted to thank you so much for sharing your experiences here as well. It sounds like you and your daughters have been through a lot in the few years, and I'm so sorry that your younger daughter has experienced so much. It sounds like you've done the absolute best you can to navigate the system and find her the right level of support- it must have been incredibly hard to get to the point where she could no longer stay safe in your home. I love your advice around being supportive and non judgemental, even when it's really hard- I'm wondering if you've been able to get much support to help you through everything you've been through?
@Cocoarrarra I think a lot of parents can relate to your concerns about social media- on one hand, it can be a really important way for young people to connect with each other, but there's also a lot of downsides there too- I don't know if your daughter would be interested in this, but we do have a professionally moderated, anonymous Online Community for young people to connect and find support around all things mental health, in a space that is much safer and designed to give the benefits of that peer support, in a much more safe environment.
That's probably enough from me! I hope that it's been helpful for you both to connect here, please keep us posted with how you're all travelling- you're definitely not alone, and this is a really safe space to vent if you need to.
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Thanks so much for this post @Bre-RO - it's a topic very close to my heart- I spent the first 4 years of my oldest child's life as a sole parent, and then have been in a blended family for 8 years.
I can honestly say it's been both the most wonderful and most challenging thing I've ever done. It's taken a lot of honest, open communication from all of us- my partner, my daughter, and myself- and we've made heaps of mistakes along the way. Step parents are a very special breed of human in my books- and my husband and daughter have a really special relationship now.
The biggest challenges for us along the way were me learning to co-parent - I'd been the only one calling the shots for a long time, and it took me a long time to adjust to having another adult in the picture! DIscipline, conflict resolution, and when to step in (vs when to step back) were all really challenging issues for all of us- and it's been a constant and evolving process for all of us.
It was also really hard for me to find a 'safe' space to talk through these issues, especially as my daughter's now hit the tween/teen years, and I don't talk about her as much on social media etc any more out of respect for her privacy. I know I've really valued learning from other people who've been there- my husband was raised in a blended family himself, and I've always loved chatting to his stepmom about how she found that whole journey.
I'm just going to tag some people who've been active in the community recently around blended families- we'd love to hear from you, and this is a safe, anonymous space if you ever want to vent/ chat/ share your experiences
@Ap2021 @Noname1 @Coops @Giffordm @FlorenceSierra @Adelaide123 @sparkles21
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Hi @courtneylage ,
Thanks so much for sharing your powerful words here- I just wanted to let you know that I made a small edit to remove your name, just to keep your post in line with our community guidelines around staying anonymous
As a parent myself, (who also raised my first child alone for the first 4 years of her life) I can't even begin to imagine what you and your children have been through over the last 8 or more years.
It sounds like you have been able to use your lived experience in a really purposeful way through your work with other families and in your advocacy work , and I'm sure that you will change many lives for the better through your work. Are you and your family still getting support with your c-PTSD?
Do you mind if I ask what you found helpful in your own recovery journey? I know we have a lot of other parents reading who may also be recovering from complex trauma, and hearing from people who've walked the same path is really powerful.
Thank you so much for sharing your story here, wishing you and your family all the very best
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Hi @DayByDay ,
Welcome to the parents online community- we're really glad you found our space. I have to say that I could relate to so much of what you wrote about here- both as a a parent to an almost-teenager who has some similar challenges , and as someone who was recently diagnosed with ADHD as an adult myself.
Reading your post, I can hear how much you love your daughter, and also that you're experiencing feelings of guilt- and it also sounds like things have been pretty complicated for you and your family, between lockdown, a new ADHD diagnosis for your daughter, the challenges that come with learning from home, and issues with her adjusting to a new school/ meeting a new boyfriend, and pushing boundaries at home. It sounds like it must be a really exhausting and challenging time for you all- any one of those things would be a lot to cope with, let alone all of them at once!
I'm wondering if your daughter's treating doctor/ therapist gave you all much information about ADHD, and how it can present in females in particular? I know that for me, learning more about ADHD and how it affects our brains, was something that I found really empowering, and it also gave me some very practical strategies that I've found helpful both in my own life, and also helping to support and scaffold my daughter. You may already be aware of this- but your daughter definitely isn't alone in receiving an ADHD diagnosis in the last year or so. There's a of girls and women (including myself!) who had never even considered that they may have ADHD, but the uniquely challenging time of the pandemic was a 'perfect storm' for a lot of people, and what you described about your daughter's struggles with homeschooling really resonated with me.
Simply put, a lot of girls with ADHD slip under the radar in terms of diagnosis, especially if they seem to cope fairly well with school / the demands of life.
For many of us, struggles with executive function (things like starting new tasks, staying organised, and planning tasks), impulsivity, and being easily distracted (especially by things like phones/games/ social media) were things that had always existed- one you add in stress, uncertainty, and the loss of our usual structures and routines that came from COVID, a lot of women hit a point where they couldn't cope any more- and realised that they had been living with undiagnosed ADHD for years.
I found this article to be really insightful and thought you may find it helpful: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/nov/02/the-lost-girls-chaotic-and-curious-women-with-adhd-all-have-missed-red-flags-that-haunt-us
You mentioned that she did trial medication at one point, but then you moved states- do you think that it's something she may be open to trying again? We can't give medical advice here, but I know that a lot of people do find that the right combination of medication and support from a mental health professional with other strategies like journalling /using planners/ different time management strategies can be helpful.
We also have a resource here with some really practical ways to help manage distractions if you think that may be useful - it's definitely an issue we hear about a lot!
I know that exercise and meditation have also been really helpful for me personally.
It sounds like you're doing a great job in keeping the lines of communication open with your daughter while still setting boundaries with her- we have some resources that might be helpful for you to have a look at here around managing conflict and setting boundaries with teens
In terms of your questions - it sounds like there's been so many changes for your daughter to navigate recently, and I'm wondering if she is still seeing a psychologist or counsellor at all? It may be helpful to have the support of a mental health professional to help you to work through some of these questions, especially around her medication - and it may well be the case that once she's settled into the new environment, she may have the headspace to consider whether or not this school is the right environment for her, and also start to implement some more strategies to help her in her dat to day life
I hope that some of this is helpful- it sounds like it's been such a challenging time for you. Do you have anyone you can lean on for support at the moment- friends, a counsellor, family members? We are always here to chat as well - sometimes it can help a lot to vent, and this is a safe space to do that
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Oh gosh @Philippa-RO - I can really relate to what you've articulated there about the sadness we're feeling for our kids- I feel that very deeply some days. I know that we are trying to do the best we can, but there's no escaping the fact that they are experiencing a real sense of grief and loss over the things they're missing out on, that we can't fix for them. I love what you say about learning to just sit with them; I think that as parents we sometimes want to fix problems and make the pain go away - but actually, there's a real power in teaching our kids that sometimes we do need to go through hard things.
I had this exact conversation with my daughter earlier this week - and I realised that she was getting more upset if I tried to look for silver linings, or come up with distractions- in that moment, she wanted me to acknowledge her pain, and sit with her through it
I know that we'll get through this - but some days are bloody hard!
I love what you say about self care- I've also been watching some super trashy TV instead of my usual documentaries/ crime dramas- sometimes you need the TV equivalent of a fluffy blanket at the end of a rough day :)
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Just tagging some parents who've been active recently around these issues - we hope you are all travelling well - this is a safe space to vent if you need to, or share what's been helping you and your young people
@Birdwings @Faob_1 @Abby91 @buyamardeep @ShayHay25 @Shoneonme @chichi
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Hello lovely parents and carers,
I think we can safely say that 2021 continues to throw us curve balls that we weren't necessarily prepared for, especially if you're in a part of Australia that's currently living through extended lockdowns.
I know that for my family, the last few weeks have felt especially tough. We've now been in lockdown for around 11 weeks- so we're all somewhat adjusting to the rhythm of working from home, doing home learning for our tween, and trying to find moments of joy and fun in what can be a pretty monotonous time.
There's been times when we are all doing fairly well- we've discovered some wonderful bushwalks in our bubble, have been doing lots of cooking, and spending time in the garden.
But there's other time when we are all struggling.
For our young person, there's a real sense of grief over missing the milestones and rites of passage that won't be able to be marked in the usual way this year- it's our tween's last year of primary school, so things like school camp, school representative sport, and end of year celebrations are now either cancelled or looking very uncertain.
It's also important to acknowledge that everyone's experience is different, for a variety of reasons. I've heard people using this metaphor, and it really resonated with me- we are all in the same storm, with factors completely outside our control changing the way we live our lives. But we are all in different boats.
So, with that in mind, we wanted to create a safe space for parents and carers to chat and connect, and share what's happening for you at the moment.
For parents with young people who are in Year 12, it's an especially challenging time- we're hearing from young people that a lot of them are feeling scared and uncertain about the future, and frustrated that all of their hard work for their final year of school is being done with ever-changing goal posts. But we're also hearing stories of amazing strength and resilience from young people - we recently held this discussion about uncertainty and the future on our Youth Forums with some amazing young people, which I found incredibly inspiring to read. If there's a young person in your life who may like to read it, they can see the whole discussion here:
AMAA: Redefining pathways to success
We also have some great resources on our ReachOut Parents page:
What to do if your teen is stressed about the future
Video: How Jane supported Georgia through year 12 during COVID
We'd also love to hear from you: how are your young people travelling? Is there anything you're finding helpful at the moment? How are you feeling about the rest of 2021?
Finally, we also wanted to acknowledge something that we don't always talk about: parental burnout.
I know that for me, 2021 has felt like a marathon. Most days I'm feeling OK, but I also often have moments some weeks where I'm exhausted, irritable, overwhelmed, and thoroughly sick of being at home with my family 24/7!
Burnout is something that we talk about fairly regularly in the field of mental health- however it's only more recently that we've seen more discussion of how burnout can affect parents in particular- especially given the multiple types of stressors we are all dealing with in COVID times.
Sophie Scott kindly gave permission for us to share these images, and I have found her writing and speaking on parental burnout really insightful
We also have some great resources on ReachOut Parents all about how to maintain your own wellbeing during coronavirus
I know that I have found building in routines for self care incredibly important for my own wellbeing, and by extension, the wellbeing of my family - it's all about finding what fills your own cup
(Image credit: https://www.ccrconsulting.org/community/self-care-during-covid-19)
We would love to hear how you are travelling: is there anything that's helping you to fill your own cup?
We would love this to be a space where parents feel safe to talk about whatever they're experiencing at the moment, from the silver linings, to the moments where it's all a slog. Please feel free to share anything you would like in this space- sometimes even sharing what's happening with a group of (virtual) strangers can help to ease the burden a lot, especially when so many of us are parenting without our usual villages
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Hi @Birdwings ,
It's really nice to see your name pop up again here, but I'm so sorry to hear that things have been rough for your lovely girl.
I wanted to share a bit of personal experience here as a fellow parent of a child with complex health needs, because I can truly say that I do know how stressful it can be when there's a lot of health issues at play, especially when it ends in hopsitalisation - that was also my family's journey, but my daughter's issues are now well managed, and she's thankfully not had any really acute issues in the last 5 years.
My daughter also has anaphlactic allergies, along with a range of other chronic conditions (which happens to include a rare GI condition, which is related to her allergies) . So we've also been through that exhausting and stressful experience of finding the right specialists, then having a lot of testing done to unpack exactly what was going on. Without going into too much detail, it's involved a lot of procedures in hospital, a few surgeries, and a lot of trial and error with diet and medication. .
The reason I wanted to share that with you, is to let you know that I think you are doing a truly amazing job in supporting your daughter, in very, very challenging circumstances. COVID also means that people with underlying health issues are experiencing additional challenges- whether that be being anxious about their personal risk and exposure, changes to normal medical appointments, and managing health challenges at a time when a lot of the 'normal' coping mechanism that may help us aren't available.
In terms of helping to cope with lockdown - we do have a space for parents to chat and connect around those challenges here. What we're hearing from parents right now (and what I'm finding in my own household) is that it's really a 'one day at a time' feeling at the moment, because so much of the bigger picture is outside of our control. We also have a space to chat more specifically about home schooling - it's definitely something that is a huge change for most families, especially when we are also balancing working from home, and the grief that comes with losing so many of the social activities and brought us joy and connection.
In my case, we've actually relaxed some of our usual screen time rules, so that my daughter can connect with her friends more online. Roblox , houseparty, and FaceTime are all popular at the moment, and she's often chatting away with her best friend as they complete their school work. We've built regular walks together into our usual daily routine, sometimes I will shamelessly bribe her with a takeaway hot chocolate.
Does your daughter have any outdoor activities that bring her joy? We're finding activities like bushwalks, walks around our neighbourhood, and even silly things like making videos to send to family overseas to be really quite lovely.
I have also found it helpful to connect with other parents and young people living with chronic illnesses. ASCIA is the peak body for allergies in Australia, and they are a wealth of knowledge- their social media pages are also a good way to connect with people who 'get it'.
They also offer really helpful, practical advice, around managing life as someone with serious allergies. It made me feel less alone as a parent, and also helped me to empower my daughter in practical ways- for example, she has a well practiced routine of having her action plan/ EpiPen/ other meds in a little bag with her that she takes everywhere, we chose a nice bag together that doesn't look 'medical' which helped!
@Birdwings I also wanted to check in with you- how are you feeling in such a challenging time? I know that as a parent, I'm really aware of the risk I run of burning the candle at both ends - when I'm trying to support my family, do my best at work, and also cope with the changes that's come with covid and the lockdown. I'm glad that you've been able to come here and share a bit about what's happening - we are here to support you however we can
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Hi @Ap2021 ,
I hope you don't mind me popping on to your thread as well- I have to say, reading your post felt so familiar to me. I'm also a parent in a blended family, and I can honestly say that I could have written this post almost word for word myself a year or so ago.
Everyone's story is different, but I will say that we do hear a lot from people struggling to navigate the complex dynamics of a blended family here. In my case, it was just myself and my daughter for the first 4 years of her life. So we were very much a famliy of two (though I have a very supportive extended family and friends)- when I met my now-husband, it was a huge step for me to even introduce her to someone new.
For us, transitioning to becoming a true blended family was something that took a really long time, and involved a lot of difficult conversations, some tears, a lot of misunderstandings, and it's something that's only really become a smoother journey in the last few years.
Like you, I found it really hard when there was conflict between my child and my partner- I would often want to step in and play the mediator, but that would then cause other problems!
It took me a long time to allow their relationship to unfold naturally, and two things helped us a lot. One was getting professional support from Relationships Australia. The second was trying to be really, really kind and compassionate- both to myself, and towards my partner and my child. Sometimes I do this well, sometimes I don't, but I think it's really valid to feel a lot of really mixed emotions around this stuff. Sometimes I was exhausted by the fighting, sometimes I would be exhausted by trying to come up with fun activities for us to to, but it's only now that things have improved that I can see that we also all needed a lot of time and patience to find our feet.
I'm also wondering if you know any other people in blended families? Sometimes it can really help to hear from other people in the same boat as you- I've learned a lot from other single parents along the way. If it would be helpful, I'd be happy to have a look at some groups that may be suitable for you, and we also have a single parents space on our forums :)
I hope that sharing your story here has helped a bit, we're always here to chat, and it's a very non-judgmental, safe space to share what's going on for you and your family.
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Hi @Mv161705 ,
I was just reading through your thread, and wanted to check in and see how you, and your family, are travelling?
It can be so hard as a parent when our child is struggling, no matter how old they are. This post really resonated with me on a personal level - I have two kids myself, and I also had some tough years myself in my late teens/ early twenties, where I struggled hugely with anxiety.
I'm hearing how much you love your son, and I imagine it must be so hard not knowing how to help him, or what you can do to help him through this very difficult season.
I'm curious, you mention he's had help from different services before and also uses other substances to help (if you're referring to marijuana, that's definitely something that's pretty common , and is often a form of self medicating).
Has he ever had help from someone who works in vocational counselling/ rehabiliation counselling at all, or from a professional like an Occupational Therapist?
A skilled mental health OT can be a really useful part of someone's recovery journey- along with career counselling, if he's feeling a bit lost about the future in general.
We've also got a resource which may be helpful on our ReachOut Parents page, which looks at a lot of different options that are out there, for when someone's already had a bit of professional help, but is still struggling to find a path forward. It was written by an experienced clinical psychologist, and has some great tips and services that may be helpful for you:
My teen's professional help didn't work- what next?
You mention that your son's really stressed about his future- and that's something we do hear quite a lot from young people, especially in the last year or so. It's a really stressful, uncertain, and frightening time for a lot of young people who are just embarking on adult life- we have some great resources on our ReachOut Youth page that may be helpful here;
How to handle fear about the future: a guide
How to mostly stop worrying about the future of work
It can be incredibly difficult as a parent when your child isn't going so well, and I know that in my life, the most stressful seasons for me have been when one of my children has been really unwell. I'm wondering if you have people in your life who are able to support you as you help to support your son? The analogy of 'putting your oxygen mask on first' is one that can sometimes be over used, but I'm a huge believer in trying to prioritise self care. Sometimes it's as simple as making time to have a cup of tea, or going for a walk while I chat to a friend on the phone - but it definitely helps to 'fill my own cup'.
Hope your week is going OK @Mv161705 - hope that some of this is helpful
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