I wish there were a helpline number that parents could call whenever they were feeling completely overwhelmed to the point of no return.
Of course, we are fortunate enough to live in a magnificent country with excellent mental health support facilities. But what I am seeking for all parents is something entirely different from what’s currently on offer.
This Happens Too Often!
In Australia, one child’s life is taken by the hand of their parent or caregiver every fortnight – and if that doesn’t make you want to rally together to find a way to support parents in a different way, it should. Because clearly the support services we have in place at the moment aren’t aligned with what these desperate souls need.
Perhaps we need a call centre filled with support workers of a completely diverse skill set. People who can relate to children who come from all different abilities and who have a good idea of what to say when a parent calls up and says:
“I feel like such a failure! My kid just ate their own poop again for the umpteenth time this week.
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What we need might even be a person at the other end of the phone with hostage negotiation skills – because after all clearly we have got children’s lives on the line.
They Need To REALLY Listen And Stop Quizzing!
They need to be able to listen to what the caller is saying, not merely hear it. And for God sake we need to drop the generic responses! I mean yes there are some things which we will never tire of hearing like ‘you’ve got this’, or genuine reminders that things are going to work out, but the other stuff like ‘and how did that make you feel when little Billie did that?’ possibly needs to stop.
I mean we have a very good idea of how these parents are feeling. They feel like all hope is lost, like their little one is more of a burden than anything else. They’re exhausted. They see nothing good in the future. And you know what? They probably have more questions that they want answered opposed to having the person on the other end of the phone quizzing them!
Plagued With Questions
There could be a mammoth number of different questions that parents have when they’re struggling to cope like –
Why did this happen to my child?
How could I have caused them to be born like this?
If my spouse and I stayed together would our child be better behaved?
Why do I feel like this about my own kid?
Are there other parents who feel the same as what I do – because honestly I just feel so alone, afraid and just like the worst parent on the planet right now?!
Parenting as a whole is a balancing act at the best of times – regardless of your little one’s ability. No matter if your child has special needs or not, the entire parenting gig is exactly the same for all of us and I am saying this as a mother of eight mixed ability children.
Admittedly, however, I would find it harder to bounce back if I didn’t have a mix. I need the mainstream kids to show me how glorious normality is. And I need my special needs little guys to show me inner glory to the full extent of all things imperfectly perfect.
My little ones with disabilities make me let go of everything that doesn’t matter – and there honestly is a hell of a lot which happens and genuinely doesn’t matter throughout the day. But if I were trapped with them, and without the contrast of my other children I probably would go insane.
Medication May Not Be The Only Solution
I’m sure that a lot of people would feel that the quick solution to this would be consulting a GP and being medicated. Which must work for many people. But just look at all the parents that this strategy isn’t working for.
Instead of offloading the issue onto medication alone and hoping for the best outcome, maybe caregivers really do need their own outlet.
Just look at our teachers and their opportunity to have Release from Face to Face teaching so that our kids don’t drive them completely nuts! I mean sure they’re still working their butts off during that time, but at least they aren’t working with a bunch of kids in their face which often feels like trying to brush one’s teeth whilst eating Oreos.
Parents who commit the worst possible crime often don’t even see the malice of their actions. They believe they’re doing what is best for their child – I mean they must do, or else they most likely wouldn’t do it for a good majority of instances.
What I strongly believe that parents need is some sort of helpline, one which will answer their questions and reassure them how vital their life is to their child, and how vital their child is to the world regardless of what they might be thinking at the time.
I dare say the calls will need to be untimed, filled with good humour and the person taking the call hopefully should be able to relate in some way with the caller.
They need to be able to assist with everything from ‘my kid wouldn’t stop saying mum today’, to ‘yet another day where my kid hasn’t said mum’.
Callers need to be able to feel comfortable sharing the big things like – I don’t love my child anymore and even scarier things beyond that. Things which we try to turn a blind eye to because they’re just too painful to think about.
It wouldn’t just be a Suicide prevention centre, because it could potentially save more than the life of the caller and also extent to that of the caller’s family.
You may be fooled into believing that this doesn’t impact you, because you’re a great parent who would never hurt your own child (I am beyond relieved that you feel this way). However, believe me when I say that this actually impacts everyone by default.
Close To Home
Recently my daughter came home and shared something with me which still makes me feel sick to my stomach. Her teacher asked the class how their weekend was and when it came to their turn, one of my daughter’s friends told the teacher that her ‘dad is evil’. She didn’t expand on it to the teacher at all.
Later my daughter asked if her friend was alright and what she did on the weekend. She told my daughter that she was scared because her father tried to kill her. He wrapped his hands around her throat and choked her then threw her onto her bed. Can you just imagine that?!
It happens, and it happens closer to home than one might realise!
There is nothing that a child could possibly do to warrant that sort of discipline. Can you see how my child has been inadvertently impacted by the violence? It happens, everywhere, whether we like it or not, whether we choose to see it or not and something has to change for the sake of all children.
Of course, I realise that what I’m suggesting isn’t going to come easy and it most certainly won’t be a cheap venture. However, at a time when the rate of filicide is at a steady high, don’t we owe it to our children to set up the best intervention system for them? After all the children are our future runners of the world – if we just let them make it that far!
If you or anyone you know needs help
While this exact helpline may not be available right now, there are many caring people at the other end of a phone that can help so don’t hesitate to reach out:
Lifeline on 13 11 14
Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636
Headspace on 1800 650 890
ReachOut at au.reachout.com
Care Leavers Australasia Network (CLAN) on 1800 008 774
Do you think a helpline (or something else) can help these desperate parents? Tell us in the comments below.