Constantly feel like I'm up against a brick wall
Hi all, I'm quite new here and really am at a loss.
I have a young teenager who I have been raising on my own for the last 11 years. Her Dad is there, in another state to us but really isn't helping at all. She's lucky if she sees him once a year now, although they do talk on the phone regularly.
She has been living with anxiety for the last 5 years, with it becoming increasingly bad this year. It is now affecting her sleep and her schooling. Emotionally she is a mess and will be starting to see a counsellor again. We have tried a few counsellors in the past, unfortunately she did not feel comfortable with them.
I have thought about homeschooling her next year to take some of that extra pressure off her and really focusing on her mental health, which I feel is so important.
Unfortunately her father does not agree! He thinks he can push her and she'll 'just get over it'
I'm tired of hearing 'she just needs to harden up'.
He is not supportive at all in regards to her anxiety, lack of sleep and her mental wellbeing in general.
I have tried to have conversations with him in regards to how bad things are with her mental health and anxiety and I am constantly shut down.
I live with this daily and it breaks my heart to see what my daughter is going through.
Am I doing the right thing for her in regards to considering homeschooling?
I feel like I am constantly bashing my head against a brick wall.
Every time she gets off the phone to him, she becomes withdrawn. I have tried suggesting having a break from their phone calls or reducing them to every couple of days, instead of daily BUT she feels the need to please him. She feels she will get into trouble if she doesn't call him. I am just so, so sad for her.
He can no longer control me but now seems to be controlling our daughter.
I just want to do the right thing for her. I just don't know where to go from here.
My heart is breaking!!!
Welcome here to the forum, if you look around you may find others with situations somewhat like yours. It must be a very worrying and frustrating thing for you, and there seems no easy way out.
While counceling can be a help I've found it is essential to find someone who 'clicks' so one can feel comfortable. Without that I'm not sure if it would be just another stress. Have you tried the Kids Help Line to see what advice they can offer? (My apologies if you have thought of this already.)
From what you say talking to her father on a daily basis is one cause of ongoing distress. A real pity you cannot persuade either of them to call less often as I would expect it wold tend to keep that distress going.
I"m not sure about home schooling, though of course you must be the best judge. What worries me is your daughter's life may not have as much in it. Just the phone calls plus you in the house, no going to school or interacting with others to the same extent.
Do you think it might be possible to get together wiht your daughter (and maybe hte school) and try to find out the things that cause her hurt or be hard to deal with there. Then try to make up a schedule that avoids the worst elements. If that means she regularly misses an important subject then supplementary lessons by a tutor - or yourself if you are able - might be enough
One advantage of this type of approach is it might give you daughter more of a sense of being in control of her life.
Do you think this idea is worth pursuing?
While raising 3 kids on your own would be so incredibly challenging in a whole number of ways on so many levels (my hat goes off to you), sounds like maybe it's not a bad thing your ex lives in a different state. Easier to hang up on some people than live with them, that's for sure.
'You're too sensitive, you need to toughen up' are words that used to really bring me down but ever since I gained a different take on sensitivity, such words tend to trigger me in a different way. I'm sensitive enough or have the ability to feel those words as ignorance, arrogance and degradation from some people. Arrogance has quite a feel to it, hmmm. One of the challenges with the ability to sense (aka sensitivity) is you can feel words, you can feel what's behind them. You can feel intention, tone, judgement, degradation and more. Chances are your daughter can feel her father thinking less of her for being sensitive. Not sure if you're much of a reader but I found a good read to be 'Sensitive Is the New Strong', by Anita Moorjani. Not sure if it will come to help you and your daughter see sensitivity from a different perspective. The positives of being sensitive involve being able to sense inspiration when we feel it. While all in the book may not resonate, a lot of it has a truly inspiring feel to it.
With your daughter possibly being a major feeler, the counseling situation may be a bit of a Goldilocks experience (too hot, too cold, just right, too soft, too hard, just right). She'll be getting a feel for the right person as she interviews them for the job. The best 'employee' is the one who's able to create the best connection. No point employing and paying someone who can't fill the role.
As a mum to 2 highly sensitive and truly amazing kids (21yo girl and 18yo boy), they have 2 very different natures. While my daughter has a bit of a 'take no prisoners' nature, by son is the most gentle easygoing person you could find. Having just completed his VCE a few days ago, he struggled a lot at school in a lot of different ways. He struggled with an almost soul destroying level of bullying for a number of years, a curriculum that isn't really geared for a brilliant imagination that needs to be engaged (in order to beat the boredom) and he struggled with understanding who he naturally is and therefor how he best works. Should add, he's learned a lot about himself over the years. He's come a long way.
It's heartbreaking, hey, to watch someone you love so much suffer in a lot of ways. If you're a mum who can easily sense their child's sufferance and struggle, you can feel it at such a deep level. On the other hand (I say with a smile), you can simply dismiss it all if you're an insensitive parent. When 'You're too sensitive, you need to toughen up' changes to 'You're so sensitive, let me show you how to sense', sensitivity becomes an ability to be mastered. So many skills to be mastered with sensitivity (how to breathe, how to vent in other ways, how to get an accurate feel for people and situations, how to imagine constructively, how to emotionally detach, how to find the tribe you vibe with and the list goes on). I'd say it's not about 'toughening up', it's about greater self understanding and skill development while carrying those skills/tools through life. I like to imagine there'll be a time where you'll find yourself saying 'My daughter can sense better than anyone I know. She is super sensitive. She is a master'. 🙂
Thank you so much for your response. We have tried dropping subjects, having shorter days, having shorter weeks... I honestly think I've tried it all over this last year, with the help of her school.
My daughter's anxiety is often too much for her to even get out of bed, too much to leave the house, too much to interact with other people.
It really is so hard to watch as a parent.
We will continue to pursue the help from a counsellor and see what strategies they can suggest. Also with the guidance from our GP.
And I'll look at what other options there may be, to help her with her schooling.
I honestly appreciate you taking the time to respond and all of your suggestions. Thank you
Hi therising, Thank you so much for your response. And thank you for your understanding. I honestly think you've hit the nail on the head and you've given me a whole new perspective to think about.
I will definitely look into the book you have suggested, sounds like it could definitely help.
You are so right about the counselling situation... so far she has not found the 'right fit' for her and that's ok. We have a phone appointment this morning and so far she has a good feeling about this new counsellor, we'll see how it goes.
I really appreciate you taking the time to respond to my post. You have made me feel much better, knowing I'm not alone... someone out there actually gets it and understands. Thank you so much!
We’re sorry to hear your daughter is struggling with anxiety and mental health, and it’s making attending school really difficult for her. We can imagine how concerned you must be, and we can hear you’re a really caring parent in trying to get her the appropriate supports. Please be kind to yourself during this time, while being a parent and carer it's important to ensure your own wellbeing while looking after your family.
We would encourage you to reach out to our counsellors for advice and referrals. They’re available anytime on 1300 22 4636, via online chat here, or by email here. There are also our friends at Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 and Parentline (who have a number for each state listed here). They are both amazing at supporting kids with mental health and wellbeing challenges and their parents and carers. If your daughter would like some more immediate support, you could encourage your daughter to reach out to Kids Helpline, she can call by herself or together, start a WebChat or send an email. There’s more tips from Kids Helpline, here.
We’d also really recommend reaching out to the GP or a trusted family doctor or health professional as often they are able to facilitate the process in finding a psychologist or addressing any underlying health concerns that may contribute to her anxiety.
Thanks again for reaching out, we hope our community members were able to provide you with some helpful tips. Please know that we are always here to listen.
Thank you so much Sophie, for your kind words and support.
We had a phone appointment today with a health care professional and they seemed extremely helpful.
I will definitely look into the options that you have provided. Just being able to unload and hear from others in a similar situation has definitely eased my mind.
I truly appreciated all the support and guidance I have received from everyone here.
You are all amazing!!!