I am so sorry to hear that your daughter has been running away and she has been dealing with depression. I can imagine this must be a lot to deal with a major blow as you have only just dealt with such a difficult loss. What sort of support do you have for yourself at the moment?
Is there any sort of school counsellor that your daughter could speak to?
A great first step for supports in your area would be to call:
Parentline on 1300 30 1300 (8am-10pm 7 Days a week).
Beyondblue on 1300 22 4636 (24/7)
They can provide you with referrals to services in your area and counselling over the phone.
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From what you have told me it sounds like you have set very clear boundaries around what is acceptable and have tried to look after his best interests. I am really glad to hear that you have a good support network.
Did you report him going missing to the police when he ran away?
At a certain stage, if you are doing all you can to help your son, nothing is working and he is not taking any action to help himself, he is now accepting total responsibility for his actions. Consequences and boundaries must come of these actions regardless of what his attitude is at this moment. While he may have no issues now with his first charge, if he continues, that will change quickly for him. My advice would be to continue what you are doing, setting strong boundaries and tolerating no drug use or criminal activities in the house. There may be some compromise on expectations of his behavior around work/chores etc so he feels less motivation to break the conditions of bail in the short term. But setting some clear non-negotiables around him staying in the home is key. I think you have done an excellent job of this so far.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t support him or show him that you love him and are there for him. But you cannot bare the burden of his choices.
I would also recommend getting him connected to a counsellor or social worker (if the court isn’t organising one), so he has someone outside of the household to talk to and provide him with another avenue of support/reinforcement of staying on the straight and narrow.
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I want to say first that I cannot imagine how stressful and heartbreaking it must be to experience the arrest of your child. What supports do you have for yourself though this?
May I ask what your son was changed with? Did they tell you why they were running away?
It must be frustrating to have such a disconnect between your perspective and your son’s perspective of his crime. Where do you think his apathy is coming from? Has he explained why he doesn’t care about this process?
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Thank you for sharing your feelings and experiences about your daughter’s recent change in behavior. It sounds like you really care for your daughter and want to do what’s best for her but are unsure about what the future holds for her based on what’s happened so far.
In terms of what is normal or not in this situation. That is too subjective of a question to really answer definitively. From my perspective, I have certainly been in situations like your daughter at the same age. I was eager to experiment with members of the opposite sex and with alcohol as soon as I could. As an adult now, perhaps I would consider some of the things I did as reckless, but I would say they were normal.
I can say that rebelling, experimenting and hiding things from your parents is 100% normal and is part of human development. We are hard wired as humans to try and differentiate ourselves from our parents as adolescence.
My question to you is, have you ever had similar situations yourself when you were younger?
When you were young, did you ever get yourself into a situation that you hid from your parents?
Have you ever drunk more than you wanted, and ended up needing help from someone?
If the answer is yes to these questions, then perhaps consider what makes this different from when you experimented, versus how she is experimenting now. Is it the change in role (e.g. Now you are the parent and she is the child)? Is it that you don’t quite trust your daughter yet? Or is it something else.
If the answer is no to these questions, then perhaps this maybe what is causing the disconnect between you and her. If you do not have a relatable experience to compare with your daughter’s current experience, I can imagine he behavior would seem out of the norm for you.
To challenge you a little, I imagine your daughter has been hiding this side of herself from you and didn’t want to call you, as she perhaps feared your reaction. Considering you have punished her, I can imagine this pattern may continue, unless you two are able to come to a mutual agreement around safe experimentation.
What was your daughter’s perspective around speaking to a psychologist?
I know changes in our loved ones behavior can be stressful and worrying (especially as a parent), however sometimes these changes are a matter of when instead of if. I know you love your daughter and do your best to help her along as much as you can.
All the best.
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I am so sorry to hear about the custody issues you are having between your ex and yourself at the moment. It sounds like this is a very distressing and complex situation involving verbal abuse and court orders.
How have you been coping with the stress of this?
Is there anyone that you trust that you have been able to talk to about this?
Have you considered reaching out to any support groups in your area for single parents?
Some online and offline parental support groups could provide some amazing insights into their own experiences with custody hearings and mixed family situations.
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Thank you for sharing your story about yourself and your family. I can imagine that worry around your health and your children health could be exhausting, especially when you must fight so hard to access to prophylactic healthcare.
I appreciate your compassion for your kid and the difficulties they have had with accessing life events and milestones that we would have taken for granted back then. I know with myself, travelling when I was younger had a big impact on me and I am very thankful for it today.
However, (as grim as this sounds) all other teenagers are in the same boat as your kids at the moment. Everyone is mutually experiencing this deprivation of opportunity somewhat equaling. Therefore, they are not missing out as much as it may seem when we compare them to their peers as opposed to ourselves.
I hope that is some comfort to you when you find thoughts of worry cropping up around their developmental milestones.
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Welcome to the forum and thank you for reaching out for support today.
That sounds like an incredibly frustrating situation to be in as a parent, I can hear that you have been trying your best to look after the needs of your teen and try to accommodate them, but it sounds like nothing has been working.
I want to let you know that you are not alone in this, there are a lot of parents who have reached out on here to seek support for school refusal. I would recommend having a look at this guide on our website around school refusal for teens. In addition we have these threads (here and here) in which parents have discussed similar situations that they having struggling with.
What supports does your daughter have at school? Has she been able to speak to anyone such as a school counsellor around her school refusal?
Besides showing a desire to want to leave school and work, has she specified any specific reasons for her lack of engagement with school?
What sort of supports do you have yourself during this difficult time?
From where I stand, it really sounds like you are an excellent parent who is trying to do their best to support their teen. I know it may not feel that way sometimes, especially if they don’t seem to be responding to anything that has been tried. But simply because you are still trying and working away at this shows a lot of guts!
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I understand, this situation is very overwhelming, especially if you haven’t had the same experience with his other siblings. I think that it is a fantastic idea talking to his older brother about this and getting them connected.
I can hear that you are trying your best in spite of the difficult experiences you had as a child. It sounds like you are an amazing parent and are doing a great job. I feel it’s important to recognize there is only so much you can control and influence with your children, even if we do our best they will get caught into situations we would prefer they avoid. But often, they are also more resilient than we give them credit for. He may come out of this situation better for it.
I think talking to a counsellor should be a space to make it about you. Even if you are asking for support around parenting, it can be the time to also talk about your experiences growing up and approaching some things from past that may be weighing on you today.
So far it sounds like you are achieving the balance by talking to him and giving him space, by gathering supports around him, by contemplating speaking to someone for support for yourself and for reaching out on here for support and advice. I think you are doing a much better job than you give yourself credit for. 😊
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Hi @Dimes ,
I hear that you are quite worried and are not sure how to find the balance between guiding your son and being over-protective. I hear you, the late teens and early twenties can be such a confusing time for both parents and their kids. You mentioned at the start of your post looking for advice on the matter so I wanted to throw my hat in the ring as both a youth counsellor and as a guy who got into trouble when they were younger.
I want to emphasis to you that often personality changes and experimentation with drugs and alcohol can be a normal phase during this period of time. As you have said, your son has felt as though he has been too reserved as a person, so is experimenting with a new lifestyle to see how he feels.
Often the key can be keeping lines of communication with our loved ones open, even if we don’t agree with the choices they are making. Makes sure that they are heard, loved and supported, so if they do need support or advice they will reach out to you.
Another option is also looking to his siblings. If he gets along with one or more of them well, perhaps getting them to check in on him, see how he’s doing, making sure he’s alright. This way he can have someone who isn’t his mum to talk to and to open up to, as he may not feel comfortable telling his parents everything that he is feeling at the moment.
Do you feel I am on the right track with some of these options?
I’m glad to hear that you have a supportive family, as it sounds like this has impacted you quite a lot. I’m concerned that it has been affecting you that you are unable to focus and can be very tearful, do you feel like perhaps talking to someone like a psychologist or a counsellor about this could give you both the space to talk about your son but also your own feelings?
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