My daughter is self harming and I’m so guilty and frightened

My daughter is self harming and I’m so guilty and frightened

Do you feel guilty all the time about the way you have raised your children? I have always felt so guilty from day one: I didn’t give my kids enough of my time and I escaped to work as soon as I could, because mothering was so hard. Now my daughter is self harming, and I feel like all my parenting fails have come to haunt me like an evil spirit.

My daughter is almost 15-years-old and says she started self harming at about the end of year six. For the record, I only noticed these past school holidays, so that’s another thing to feel guilty about. It had been going on for over two years and I didn’t even know. If that doesn’t make you question your worth as a mother, I don’t know what would.

Scars and wounds

She cuts her thighs on the side, little slivers she makes with her razor. The whole side of her leg is just a mess of scars and wounds. It breaks my heart to see the damage she has done to herself and I feel sick writing it down right now. From what she tells me, the cutting started quite small, but has escalated. Now she cuts herself “most days”.

She tells me she has tried many times to stop, but trying to stop only makes her cut more. The last time she tried to stop, she also stared burning herself with a cigarette lighter. I think that scared her as it was around this time that she started to get less vigilant about covering up, and I saw the mess on her legs. I am convinced that she wanted me to see, but she denies this.


Please read: What to do if your teen is self harming


None of my business

I am so frightened by this, literally shaking with fear. I would do anything to end this for her, but she will no accept any help. I even threatened to tell the school so they can also keep an eye on her, but it doesn’t faze my daughter. It’s like she wants to keep cutting and I don’t understand that at all.

I’m told that it is ‘none of my business’ and she won’t even go to our family GP even though I’ve begged and begged her to get help. She had an ear infection and wouldn’t even go in to see the doctor because she didn’t trust me not to tell him about her cutting.

How do you make a girl that doesn’t want help, get help? The fact that she won’t open up to me only exacerbates my feelings of huge guilt and I’m terrified for her. She won’t talk to me about it and instead just blatantly continues on doing it, even though she knows how upset I am. If she’s not talking to me about it, if I can’t help her, then who? I’m am devastated that she is doing this on her own.

I’ve let her down badly

To not know why your child is doing something so drastic is just the most frigthening feeling. If I had been there for her more on a daily basis, I can’t help feel that this would not have happened. I worry about her constantly and rarely even sleep at night. I’m exhausted, but a part of me knows to stay vigilant 24/7.

I fear she will escalate her behaviour and might hurt herself badly enough to require medical attention. I feel sick that something might happen and I won’t be there to get her to casualty or all an ambulance. She tells me she is not suicidal at all, but how can I trust that to be true? The worry is just eating away at my insides.

I know I’ve let my daughter down so badly and that’s partly why I am hovering over her now. It’s all well and good to say that mothers should have lives that are not just mothering, but from the perspective of a mother who has severely dropped the ball, I disagree. I should have been there for her. That’s all I can think about.

It makes her feel better

When I asked her WHY she is self harming, she told me that it makes her feel better. Which just seems like such a contradiction to me that I cannot get my head around it. She was never a particularly anxious kid growing up, but she has become more anxious now.

I think the cutting is some kind of weird coping mechanism for her anxieties. I imagine that letting blood flow out might feel like a release of emotions that she can’t express in other ways. It just makes me shudder to think that it has come to this for my beautiful daughter.

It’s all very well for people to advise that you ‘get help’ for your teen, but if they won’t go, they won’t go. I have threatened so many things, but she just laughs in my face. And still the cutting goes on.

If you, or someone you know, are in crisis and urgently need help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800. If you are in immediate danger, call 000 right now.


Helpful resources

Please click here for a list of organisations to contact for help in any situation.

Please always just ask for help – people are there for you!

Feature image by Emiliano Vittoriosi

 

Please try compassion instead of judging other mums

Please try compassion instead of judging other mums

Every mum has got something in her life that she is struggling to manage. Any day of the year, that is true for the majority – if not all – of us. A lot of the time that stems from something that our kids are going through. It’s never quiet when they are acting out, so, on top of everything, we feel even more rotten. We have all been there. This is why I don’t understand why so many mums feel okay about judging other mums.

This article is kindly written by an anonymous guest writer.

Judging people for judging

This article shared on Mumlyfe Facebook really resonated with me and inspired me to write down my thoughts on this. It’s quite hard to write, as I know that just by expressing this, I’m probably judging other mums myself!! But I sill think it needs examining. I guess I hypocritically do judge people for judging. Hear me out.

I don’t know why women are so quick to put other women down, but they are. That’s my experience anyway. If your kid acts out – as so many kids do – people will instantly start eyeballing the mother. I’ve got four kids and I’ve been at the receiving end of it time and time again.

The first time I was met with really hurtful judgement – as opposed to the ongoing, everyday judgey sh*t women throw at each other – was when I enrolled my eldest son at our local public school. He has special needs and was very loud at the orientation day. It was all new to him and I knew there would be trouble. What I didn’t know was that I would have to suffer through dirty looks, pinched faces and even some actual tsking at times. 

Not one single mother came and asked us if we needed help. No one gave me an encouraging smile or acknowledged my boy. Instead, they all acted as if we were being deliberately disruptive and most definitely contagious.


Related: 10 things I wish primary schools did differently


 

This is my life, it’s my boy’s life, I can’t let these things get me down. I chose to move on from that and also the fact that we were never included in anything for those first couple of years at the school. It wasn’t until my NT [neurotypical] kids started that I think anyone even acknowledged my presence at the school. Not unless they were side-eyeing me on the days my son struggled.

I could use a friend

I could really have used a friend on those days. Someone who was compassionate enough to really see my son and acknowledge that he was doing his best, just as I was. That he might not have the cookie-cutter cuteness of the rest of the class, but he had other valuable things to offer. Because he does.

Please stop judging other mums

Years have gone by since then and I’ve realised as my other three have started school, that judging other mums isn’t actually exclusive to the “different” kids, like I guess I first thought. It’s also reserved for any kid who ever does anything remotely wrong.

My daughter was banned from being friends with another girl in Year 5 because she did one bad thing. Instead of getting in touch with me to work through the problem, the other mother just made her girl to cut my daughter off. It was so awkward and wrong.

Judge my kids, judge me

Another daughter struggled to fit in when she started high school and all of the mums of her old primary school friends dead-set asked me, “What’s wrong with her?” One even told me that it was “embarrassing” that she still “clung” to her primary school friends. They were judging my daughter, and they were judging me too.


Related: A simple way to think about friendship


 

Just like when I felt like my eldest son and I were contagious, I feel like people worry that a sad kid, or a bad kid, or, heaven help us all, even just a kid who is a little different, will rub off on their own kid. In my opinion, that’s such a childish way to look at the world. It’s a big fat worry that these children are raising the children too. Whenever a person lacks compassion and tolerance for others, you can be sure their kids will too.

flowers

I don’t know how to fix it, except to plead my case. To all the mums out there: please, please, please stop judging other mums. We are trying our best. We’re not perfect. Our kids all f*ck up sometimes, as do we. Why can’t that just be the bottom line? Why does this mirage of perfection have to live there instead?


Try this: How to stop worrying what other people think


 

Compassion should be easy

It is not hard at all to:

Notice when a fellow mum is struggling and offer help – put yourself in her shoes and ask yourself what would help you in that situation.

Look for things you have in common, not the things that are different – this is especially true of mums of kids with special needs. Our kids can be “typical” kids too!

Be honest about how you are feeling – the friends I have made have been the ones who have said “I don’t understand” and asked me to explain.

Look for ways you can make a difference – my very best friend is the one who said to me, “I don’t feel able to care for [your special needs boy], but I can take the other three for a play one day so you can spend some one on one time together.”

Just be kind – as above, it’s such a simple way to live your life. A smile, a kind word, a nod to show you understand. Just. be. kind.

Do you think women judging other mums is prevalent?

Feature by Nathan Anderson; hug by Sandrachile; flowers by Chungkuk Bae 

“My daughter has no friends and I don’t know why”

“My daughter has no friends and I don’t know why”

My name is Rebecca, and I’m the mum of one of “those kids”. The ones who don’t ever seem to fit in with all the other kids at school. My daughter has no friends, and gets picked on and belittled every day by the other children.

Despite what all the anti-bullying wokeness would tell you, I’m here to tell you that not much has changed since we were kids ourselves. I was one of “those kids” myself. I don’t know why. Maybe my family is born with a genetic sign on our foreheads saying, “kick me”. I can’t see it myself, but kick us they do. I was bullied all through primary and high school, and even in my first job afterwards, and now it looks like it’s now my sweet daughter’s turn. 

Is it the way she looks?

I’m not the best looking person in the world, and while I think my daughter is beautiful, it seems others disagree. I honestly think that’s why I was picked on, so maybe that’s why they are going for my girl as well. She is clean, well-dressed and well-groomed – in fact, in an attempt to reduce the stigma, we try to make sure she is perfect every day. But it doesn’t help.

It’s like some disgusting stigma that you just can’t escape from. You don’t understand why it’s attached itself to you, but you can’t shake it and everyone can see it

She is still called horrible names, ostracised and told she should “just go and kill yourself” nearly every day. What kids are saying that in year 4 at school? I would be so mortified if I heard any of my kids talking to another person like that. Do their parents know that their kids are like this? What are they doing about it? They mustn’t know, because surely this isn’t something they would let keep happening!

My daughter has no friends and we don't know why

Kids are sneakier these days

Kids are smarter these days than I remember us being. They’ve all been to the “don’t be a bully” talks and as far as I can tell, these kinds of programs haven’t stopped mean behaviour one little bit. Kids today know what the teachers are looking out for and they’ve found ways to be just as mean, only they’re quieter about it. In my day, they used to chant horrible rhymes at me in the playground. Now, they just whisper nasty things in my daughter’s ear and then run off laughing that they might catch something from getting so close. 


Related: 10 ways to help kids build resilience


 

I worry that it’s only going to get worse. She’s in year 4 right now, so online bullying hasn’t hit us yet, but I’m bracing myself. It’s gonna be awful. I’ve tried my best to bring her up strong and proud – I’ve read every single thing ever written about resilience and being assertive, you bet I have – but I know I haven’t really got the skills to make her strong. You can’t role model to your kids what you’re not yourself.

You can’t role model to your kids what you’re not yourself.

Adults are no better

I should mention that this is her second primary school where this has happened. We moved her in year 2 to get away from this exact same behaviour at her first school. And here we are again. My daughter has no friends and is constantly bullied again.

We’ve been to see the new school counsellor on many occasions and I guess that has helped her feel a bit better herself. Her teachers have also been helpful in trying to get to the bottom of things. This school has certainly been more supportive in that sense.


Related: 5 types of mean online behaviour and what you can do about it


 

I’ll be honest with you, though: in my heart, I think grown adults like counsellors and teachers have at the back of their mind the idea that there is something wrong with kids who other kids don’t like. I think they are prejudice about kids like mine from the beginning. It’s just my own experience and now backed by my daughter’s experience.

It’s like some disgusting stigma that you just can’t escape from. You don’t understand why it’s attached itself to you, but you can’t shake it and everyone can see it. Even the people who are supposed to help you.

My daughter has no friends - can you tell us why

Not knowing why is killing me

No one can tell me why my kid is a kid other kids don’t like, so how can I help her? Do they have any idea what it’s like trying to tell a sweet little 9-year-old that there is nothing wrong with her when all her peers are constantly telling her there is? Do they have any idea how it feels to love your child dearly but be unable to help them because you just can’t see what others clearly can? I cry myself to sleep most nights and it kills me to know that my daughter is doing exactly the same thing.

I feel like what we really need is for adults to be more honest about the situation. That way, we can change the things that are attaching this stigma to us. How else can we ever make it go away? But everyone hides under a veil of politeness and won’t say what they are really thinking. Only the kids do that – and being told you “smell”, when you don’t, and you’re “nothing”, when you’re not, is even less helpful than adults pretending nothing is wrong.

Everyone hides under a veil of politeness and won’t say what they are really thinking

Please, can you help me understand?

I’m grateful for a place to get this out of my head, and I’m hoping other mums will have some insights into what we could do. Maybe they could ask their kids about “those kids” at school and find out what it is about them that makes them so unlikeable. 

My beautiful, kind-hearted daughter and I would be very grateful for any insights. And please, Mums, I beg you, make sure you really know that your kid isn’t nasty to others. It’s so important that kids understand the terrible impact of their teasing and mean behaviour. Maybe your child could be the one to offer a child like mine the gift of friendship.

Do you have any insights or advice to offer Rebecca?

Further reading: This article on Psychology Today is a reminder that it only takes one friend… Let’s raise our kids to be that friend.

Feature image by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič – @specialdaddy; sea by Aziz Acharki; crying boy by Kat J

“I hate parenting a teenager, there, I said it”

“I hate parenting a teenager, there, I said it”

Look, I’m going to be completely blunt here and you’ll probably hate me almost as much as I hate me, but I hate parenting a teenager, and I have two of them. There, I said it. I hate my own kids, I really do. Well, I don’t hate them, but I hate being their mum. I hate being responsible for how they are turning out. I hate having to motivate them to do something other than lounge around with their head in a phone. I hate it! HATE IT!

Written by an anon mum who really needs to get this off her chest!

That’s a lot of ‘hates’ in one paragraph, but I have my reasons. My girls are 14 and nearly 17 and I’m pretty much done with parenting both of them. Individually they are annoying, grabby, conceited, self-absorbed show-offs. Together they are unbearable. They fight constantly. Why they think it matters what the other is doing at any given time is beyond me. No one else cares, so why do they have to keep sizing each other up? Worse, why do they have to tell me about it all the time. Mum, she’s doing this and Mum, she’s doing that and Muuuum, she stole my blah, blah, blah, blah.


Read this too: 40 things adults wish their parents had done differently


 

I hate parenting a teenager - it's just too hard

No, really, seriously, how does anyone get through the teenage years without wanting to throw them out of the house. How is it ever nice to have these leeches in your life? You put so much effort in when they are younger, trying to teach them right from wrong, and help around the house, and be friendly and nice to others. Then, wham! They hit 13 and all your efforts are NOT REWARDED.

We are dead to them

Just when you think you can’t go on because babies, toddlers, preschoolers, early-schoolers and then pre-teens are so demanding, along come the teens. Before the teens, they are at least in love with you. You can do no wrong. They will do anything for your attention and just love you to bits. 

Once they hit their teens, you are dead to them. Unless they need something. Then they suck up enough to get it before dumping you again. They stay out when they’re supposed to be in. They make really awful boyfriend choices, but you can’t say anything. They’re experimenting with things you haven’t even heard of and it’s probably making them even more mood-swingy than hormones ever could do. Then it’s whinge, whinge, I want this, whine, whine, I’m so tired, bitch, bitch, why is everyone so horrible to meeeeee?

Once they hit their teens, you are dead to them. Unless they need something.

You? Horrible to you? Have you tried living with a teenager lately? Aaaaagh. I cant’ stand it: I just hate parenting a teenager. I want it to be over. I literally want to kick them out of the house every day, but I’m too invested for that. Giving up would mean all the years I spent trying to raise decent human beings will all be for naught. If I ordered them out, it would be admitting defeat, and I’m not quite there yet.

Can’t we skip a decade or so?

But, oh my GOD, how I wish I could. I hate parenting a teenager so much that if I could wrap them up, put them on the shelf and take them down in 10 years time, I would. They could just keep cooking up there on the shelf until they were ready to be nice. Then they could come down. Around about age 25, I reckon ought to do it.

Am I alone? Does anyone else hate parenting teenagers? I mean, people talk about how it’s ‘hard’ and ‘relentless’ and all that, but nobody I know actually comes out and says they hate it. It’s why I’m staying anonymous, as I’m sure I’d be judged for loathing my own children.

♦  Related: 10 reasons why mums stop talking it out

Look, I like to think it’s the age I hate, not the kid. God help me, not the kid. Imagine if this is it. Imagine if it’s not being a teenager, but that I’ve actually raised two useless psychopaths and that’s it. My life’s work.

Imagine if it’s not being a teenager, but that I’ve actually raised two useless psychopaths and that’s it. My life’s work.

Don’t be a SAHM

FFS, if there’s ever a case for staying at work, ladies, this is it. When you’re a SAHM, your life’s work could end up being teenagers-for-life. And then you’re basically screwed. STAY. AT. WORK, so at least you’ve got something else to show for the last decade and a half of your life.

Go on, hate me for hating my kids, but please try to understand me. I’m at my wits’ end and where do you go? Counsellors? Psychologists? Trust me, I’ve been there and all I know is they don’t come home with you and look after the kids. Eventually, it’s all on you, no matter what.

Don’t worry, I’ll rally. I always do. I put my nice Mum face on and I just keep on keeping on. I’m not even a yeller in real life. I just suck it up and keep the resentment inside. But I thought I’d get these ugly thoughts out on paper while I’m in trenches. We have to share these stories more! So, there you go: I hate parenting a teenager and maybe you do too.

Mum, out.


If you want to talk to someone about parenting, there’s a great list of resources here. The list was compiled for teenagers who need help, but their parents can call in, too.


 

Feature image by John-Mark Smith; blonde woman by Christian Fregnan; fake smile by Sydney Sims

“It hurts that I’m not included in the mum cliques”

“It hurts that I’m not included in the mum cliques”

I know it’s  a bit silly and I should have better things to worry about (I do have better things to worry about), but I hate that I’m not part of any of the mum cliques at my kids’ school. For some reason, I’ve just never been accepted by any of them.

I don’t think they actively dislike me, but they definitely seem to have decided that I’m not worth bothering about. I don’t think I’m unlikable, but maybe I am. I have old friends that I love, but they all either live away or are part of their own group of one kind or another, and I’m just not. I don’t seem to fit in anywhere. Not that I’d know. I’m not invited anywhere to know whether I’d fit in or not.

So many groups, but none for me

When I try to make friends with the mum cliques, they are mostly friendly and nice, but they don’t let me in. Sometimes it’s obvious why. The cute group of mums with great bodies and clothes are probably never going to be my gang. There’s the big drinking group, that isn’t for me. There’s also the corporate kind of working mum group who I’m not really suited for. Most of the other cliques just seem to be filled with ordinary mums. They don’t seem to want to hang out with me either.

I wouldn’t take it this personally if I didn’t think it mattered for my kids. They are both in late primary school now and I think they are confused why we aren’t at the barbeques and other family parties that all their friends go to on the weekends. I’ve tried hosting a party or two myself, inviting the parents of my kids’ friends. Not many people were available to come, so it didn’t feel like a ‘party’ in the end. I think they actively avoided coming.

My husband is very social

My husband has also said a few things about my lack of friends that makes me worried. Will he think less of me as a person if others don’t seem to want to be with me? He is quite social, but luckily does a lot of socialising for work, so he doesn’t see how lacking me and the kids are during the week. On the weekends he seems happy to just hang out at home with us because he’s been out so much during the week. He might not even realise that I”m struggling to find a group, and I wouldn’t dream of telling him. I don’t want him to know how unpopular I am.

The thing is, a lot of the groups seem to have formed from mothers’ groups or when the kids were in prep. We moved to town when my kids older, so we’re not really part of any of that. I wish there was room in some of the school groups to welcome a new family, though, but they seem very closed to me. I’ve even tried volunteering at the school in order to make friends, but all that ended up happening was I kept getting more and more jobs piled onto me and no-one was willing to help me!


Related: A simple way to think about friendships


 

Mum cliques are so cliquey

I guess I just don’t understand why mum cliques are so cliquey! Why isn’t their room for my children and I to be part of their friendship group? Why wouldn’t we be welcomed? We’ve lived in our new town for almost three years now and I’m starting to think that there’s something wrong with me.

I’ve been thinking about what makes a person want to hang out with someone new, and I’ve come up with this list.

•  Funny
•  Helpful
•  Optimistic
•  Interesting
•  Fun

I’m trying to be all of these things, but still the mum cliques smile at me then move on to talk to someone else. I’m not the prettiest or most fashionable person, and while I’m trying to do better in this way, maybe this is the reason why I’m so overlooked. I’m also pretty quiet when I don’t know people. I am what used to be called ‘shy’. It’s hard for me to speak up in a group, even though I’m quite the chatterbox once I know people. 

Isn’t that what we teach our kids to do? Does it not really happen in real life?

I need to be rescued

I wish I could walk up to a mum that I admire and tell her how I’m feeling, but I just can’t. It freaks me out that she might think I’m even more odd than people clearly already do. Instead, I just watch the mums I like from afar like some creepy stalker, wishing they would notice how left out I am and come over and invite me in. Isn’t that what we teach our kids to do? Does it not really happen in real life?

I don’t think it’s ever going to happen. Instead, I’ll just keep trying to muster up the courage to be as bright and bubbly as I can in the hope that one day a mum with a group will notice and ask if I’m free on Friday. I’ll try to be all nonchalant, but inside I’ll be squealing with delight. To proudly take my kids to a Friday night mum playdate is something I’ve dreamed of for years.

Are there mum cliques in your life too? What do you think I could do to make friends?

Feature by Suhyeon Choi; 2 by Hannah Busing 

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