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Forums / Supporting family and friends with a mental health condition (carers) / Wanting advice for parenting adult child with mental illness

Topic: Wanting advice for parenting adult child with mental illness

5 posts, 0 answered
  1. krainb01
    krainb01 avatar
    2 posts
    6 September 2021
    Hi. My 18 year old daughter has severe anxiety and depression. She was first diagnosed with anxiety at age 7 and depression at age 12. She is currently on medication and we have seen many GPs / psychologists / psychiatrists through the years. She is not currently seeing a psychologist because she did not like the last one and now refuses to see one (she has always been reluctant). She is currently studying at TAFE so there is no legal school obligation involved. For years we struggled with getting her to do anything, but she was a child and we were 100% responsible for her. Now she is an adult and we don't want her to be dependent on us forever. She is very bright and capable of being a functioning member of society, but she doesn't seem to have any desire to. She has missed quite a bit of TAFE and does not complete enough TAFE work at home during lockdown. If we don't "nag" her, she won't shower or eat properly. She spends most of her time in her room and doesn't have her licence. Now that she's an adult I feel like we should just leave her and let her make her own decisions (and cop the consequences), but I think she would be more than happy to live in our back room forever! She hates talking to people about herself and when she is "forced" to she simply tells them what they want to hear. For eg, she tells her TAFE teacher she will catch up on all the work, she tells her GP she will look after herself and agrees to talk to a psychologist. Once we're home she refuses to do whatever it is she "promised". I'm just looking for some advice from parents of adult children with mental illness who are older than my daughter. Do you leave them alone? Do you still heavily parent them by "making" them do things? Do you still take the lead when corresponding with doctors, teachers, bosses etc? Do you still remind them of everything they should be doing? Has your child managed to be a fully functioning adult and live outside of your house? I'm just really worried what the future holds and don't know what to do now that she legally is an adult. Thanks.
  2. Sophie_M
    Community Moderator
    • Works for beyondblue moderating these forums
    Sophie_M avatar
    5662 posts
    6 September 2021 in reply to krainb01

    Hi krainb01,

    Thank you for sharing this here. It must be really difficult supporting your daughter. We hope you can find some comfort and understanding on the forums. We’re sure we’ll hear from other community members soon, who may be able to relate to what you’re going through.

    We hope you know there is always somewhere to turn for you, your daughter and all other affected members of your family. You could check in with

    We hope you know there is always somewhere to turn for you, your daughter and all other affected members of your family. You could check in with Parentline, who have a number for each state listed here, and if possible, please encourage her to ring Kids Helpline whenever she needs to talk things through, on 1800 55 1800, and our own Beyond blue helpline is here for both of you, on 1300 22 4636. These are both available through webchat:

    In case it's helpful, here's a previous thread that touched on this issue: They won't get help - supporting your teenager through a mental health crisis.

    It’s also important while caring for your daughter that you are aware of your own emotional wellbeing. Please remember to reach out any time you feel you are struggling, to the Beyond Blue helpline on 1300 22 4636, or to our friends at Carers Australia on 1800 242 636. They offer short-term counselling, emotional and psychological support services for carers and their families.  

    Thank you again for sharing here. Please feel free to share more and keep us updated whenever you feel comfortable to do so.

    Kind regards,

    Sophie M

  3. Isabella_
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Isabella_ avatar
    73 posts
    6 September 2021 in reply to krainb01

    Hi there,

    Thank you for sharing with us. I'm not a parent - I'm 18 myself, but I hope I can help a little bit none the less.

    This is a very complex situation, and it must be very difficult for you to be stuck in the middle. I'm assuming she's entirely dependent on you financially, for transport, etc. I think it's important for you to know that as much as we want to change people for the better, especially as a parent, it's realistically up to your daughter.

    I experienced severe social anxiety throughout high school and wanted to avoid going to school all together, but this was never an option for me because my parents wouldn't allow it. As much as I resented them for it at the time, ultimately it was the best thing they could've done for me, it helped me build much needed resilience. They were very much strict with me in terms of what I could and couldn't avoid, but at the end of the day, they were sending me to therapy sessions and were a great support system for me. I suppose it's what they call tough love.

    Unfortunately like you said, I think without a push, your daughter will easily and quite happily stay in her room for the rest of her life. That's the sad reality about mental illness. Right now you are being a great support system for her in encouraging her to take care of herself and encouraging her to get help, she is very fortunate to have that. As your daughter, she does have the responsibility to transition into adulthood and gain her independence, and this isn't easy for everyone especially with mental illness.

    I think doing things like checking in on her regularly while she's in her room and asking her what she's up to would be helpful to see what she's doing. Ask her whether she's done the things she's needed to and asking her why not. Hold her accountable for procrastinating. But always let her know that she can talk to you and ask for help whenever she needs it. Get her to show you how many TAFE units she's completed or what she's done for the day. If she hasn't been productive, ask her what she'll do tomorrow and that you'll check what she's done.

    I hope you're taking care of yourself. Always remind yourself that with things like this their isn't always a right or wrong answer, and as much as we want to, we can't completely change how our loved ones think/act. But indeed we can help them out as much as we can and be a support system, and that won't be taken for granted in the long run.

    Take care.

  4. BElaine
    BElaine avatar
    5 posts
    3 October 2021 in reply to krainb01

    Hi krainb01,

    I fully recognise your situation and have exactly the same questions as you. My daughter is 17 so I wonder what happens at 18? In 16 days of school holidays she has left her room 3 times - twice to see her psychologist and once to get vaccinated. So she showers every 5 days, despite her psychologist asking her to make this a daily goal. She loves being heard by her psyche but won't take on anything she says. So we provide whatever support she needs (meds, appointments, dinner) but it's like she has no desire to join society, to get better. I can only take Isabella_'s advice.....she has to want to change/develop/improve. I provide what I can and then step back and focus on self care.

    I'm wondering if TAFE has disability support system (where mental illness is a disability)? I know Uni of W'gong, for example, has this which gets you access to a counselor that will check in to encourage students to stay on track. I'm expecting my child will end up at TAFE next year so I'll let you know what I find.

    Thanks for sharing your situation and questions. I found it somehow reassuring to know my family is not the only one going through this. I hope you do too. I also find sharing in a supportive community such as this lightens the load, just a little. So keep putting it out there even if there are no easy answers.

    Take care of yourself.

  5. BElaine
    BElaine avatar
    5 posts
    3 October 2021 in reply to Isabella_

    Hi Isabella_, thank you for your insight. It was great your parents' "tough love" ultimately kept you on track. I was wondering if you have any advice for me? My 17 year old daughter has similar behaviours to krainb01, but she will do nothing we ask her to. She literally sits on her bed for 13 hours a day with her laptop. So how do we keep her on track? If I ask her if she has any homework this weekend she tells me to 'stop pressuring her' or to 'get off my back'. She won't show or discuss any of her work with us. If I invite her to do something else like visit her Grandparents or cook something or a crafty activity, she says she's 'not bothered'. She's happiest if we pretend she's not there. She has no friends. She likes to visit her psychologist and psychiatrist - i think she likes to be heard. But she takes on nothing they say and won't discuss anything with us unless we just completely agree with her. If we insist on anything she becomes angry and volatile, so we don't.

    I know there are no easy answers, just interested in a different perspective.


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