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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?!

Balancing Act

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.

Reassurance

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.

Save Lives

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.

  • This article is so common yet so hidden. It makes you think about the old saying Are You Ok. Everyone needs a helping hand in one way or another. Let’s think of others.

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  • I think many people hesitate to reach out the services. This is great article to them to come forward ans save them and others lives.

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  • This is a great article. Parenting can be so hard. Lots of great info here.

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  • I do recall a time when I felt so desperate and helpless. But I was fortunate to have help from family.

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  • Already so many great ones

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  • I’m not sure that another helpline is the solution. Though you’re certainly right that many parents feel this way at times.

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  • I know this does exist and I’m glad to say I never hurt my children but at one stage I did feel this way. I didn’t have anyone to talk to but my late husband was a big support. I feel for anyone going through this and hope you are able to get the support you need. I think a helpline dedicated to these problems would be a big help.

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  • This are scary stats. I never can understand though how anyone can take the life of an innocent, beautiful baby or child. It breaks my heart..

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  • Those statistics really scare me- I can’t imagine wanting to take anyone’s life, let alone my child!

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  • I think it’s fantastic there are theses helplines but I think it would be more important to advertise them more frequently. The only problem is once someone has it in their mind that they are going to take their life usually nothing stops them.
    It hurts hearing stories about people taking their own lives because they think it’s the easiest solution to fix their problems, but as someone who has lost someone very close to my heart due to suicide; it just puts all that weight onto everyone else’s shoulders.
    It absolutely breaks my heart; to the point it aches, and I just can’t stop crying when I hear that a parent has taken the life of their own child.
    I can’t even speak about it without my throat closing. It needs to stop.
    There’s so much help in this country.

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  • Yes, luckily there are helplines and organisations out there who can help desperate parents !
    The only thing is that there are still many families out there who fall between the gaps. Parents who are desperate may not be able or unwilling to ask for help. Lack of insight, shame and guilt may play a role here. That’s where abuse, drugs, violance, incest, suicide and murder can happen and child safety may not know of it.

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  • There needs to be more support and early intervention regarding mental health issues

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  • Great thing for parents to be able to reach out. Any support is better than none

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  • This is the kind of support the mother of one of my classmates in Primary School needed. The authorities knew she needed help and simply removed razor blades etc from her home. She ended up killing one of her kids , my classmate’s brother who also attended our school, with a rolling pin. I’ll never forget the assembly where they let go of dozen of helium balloons in his honour, and watching the footage of him singing “Saltwater” during an old assembly they had recorded. That song is already sad, now it’s haunting. My mother said she wished she’d done something to help as she could see she was struggling, asked if she was okay and left it at that. I wish she had done something, especially as she could see she wasn’t “okay”. But it was the authorities who did know that let her and her son down. I am shocked to read it happens once a fortnight. I have really noticed lately how lacking the amount of options to get help there are just for counselling if you need to talk to someone. This is when things go to far and it’s urgent. It can happen to anyone, getting overwhelmed and help should be easy to get. People with actual empathy are rare in that field, though, and it can make one feel worse with the textbook responses and judgement that is felt if their methods don’t instantly work. I wish to help somehow as I can’t get it myself and have had to figure things out the hard way. Great article, author.

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  • it is a positive step that this is being talked about, written about, acknowledged. I have walked in shoes similar to this… my comment is: not everyone has lived ones or family available , im here in Australia and my family ate in the uk. I left an abusive toxic relationship with twins under 1 and a 2 and a half yr old. The prevalence of social media is distortingly unhelpful – how many times do you posts from people showing the flip side or underbelly of parenting, when we stuff things up or feel alone, scared, isolated? So much leaning to # living my best life BS. It distorts reality, which makes it harder for real people to admit, no ‘ say’ when they re having an awful time. I went half way around the world to have ivf successfully , which makes me feel doubly guilty to think or feel that i hate being a multi parent some days. The upside is there are now groups where you can all admit to feeling like a failure/ frustrated at how poorly you are parenting/ sharing real tips rather than generic cliches. It can be the loneliest place, and make you feel like it is just you that feels this way.

    Reply

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