Families and adversity
All families experience adversity.
These might include stressful events such as separation, job loss or the death of a loved one.
Families may also experience discrimination, mental health challenges, poverty, substance abuse or family violence.
This can affect the mental health and wellbeing of families.
Acknowledging the impact of adversity early and providing support can help children recover.
Adverse childhood experiences
Adverse childhood experiences (ACES) are very stressful events that occur during childhood.
Childhood adversity might come from experiences of:
- loss and grief
- separation or divorce
- physical or emotional neglect
- natural disasters
- a family member falling ill
- family violence or abuse.
These experiences can have an impact on a child’s health, both physical and mental.
Parents and family members have an important role to play in supporting a child’s recovery.
- address the issue with your child early
- provide a positive and caring relationship to help the child adapt and heal
- find out more about ACES to help you understand your child’s behaviours
- strengthen your relationship with your child.
Learn more about ACES and what can help in this fact sheet from Emerging Minds.
Understand how adversity affects children’s development in this Australian Institute of Family Services (AIFS) practice guide.
Family violence can happen to people of any gender, sexual orientation or culture.
If you’re experiencing family violence, it’s not your fault.
For domestic abuse counselling call 1800RESPECT. You can also speak to your health practitioner.
In an emergency, call 000.
Family violence can be traumatic for children and young people. Your child can recover from the effects of family violence given the right support.
- Talk to your child about what’s happening and help them to feel safe.
- Kids Helpline is a confidential phone and online counselling service for your child.
MensLine Australia is a men’s telephone and online counselling service. It specialises in family and relationship concerns, including family violence.
Developmental delay or disability
Many families in Australia have family members with:
- developmental delay
- learning difficulties.
You might be a parent with a disability – or have a child with a disability.
In both situations, looking after your mental health and wellbeing is important.
Access services and supports to care for yourself and to lead a full and active life.
Find advocacy services near you on Ask Izzy.
Join a support group for parents and carers of children with disability on MyTime.
Learn about support services for parents with a disability on the Pregnancy, Birth and Baby website.
Parenting with a mental health condition
More than 2 in 5 people have experienced a mental health condition at some stage in their life.
If you are a parent with a mental health condition, it’s important to understand your condition. This can help you look after yourself.
It can also help you make plans with your child and family to prepare for both the good and hard days.
Visit the Children of Parents with Mental Illness (COPMI) website to find tools and resources on:
Work and financial stress
Juggling the expectations of work and family can be challenging.
Many families report experiences of financial stress. This includes having to ask family or friends for financial help or being unable to pay bills on time.
If you’re struggling at work or facing financial hardship, seek help early.
For free national phone financial counselling, you can call the National Debt Helpline.
Learn more about financial wellbeing and mental health.
Find strategies to manage stress at work.