Family Forum – Seeking professional help when times are challenging

When relationships between and parents and children are stretched to the limit, what do you do? Read on…


We have been to hell and back with our daughter, ever since she left home in her early teens. Alcohol, drugs, debts, threats, you name it, we’ve been there and we have done our best to support her. Now she has a child of her own. I fear for the little one’s safety, but my daughter says she will kill herself if we have the baby taken away. I don’t know what to do. Our daughter has destroyed our family, wrecked marriage and turned our friends against us. I feel so sad and don’t know where to turn. Please help.


The Panel at Family Forum sympathised with your situation and wanted to reassure you that happiness is within reach. Do not be afraid to seek professional help for support and guidance as the path to peace will be challenging.

At the age of 18, your daughter became responsible for her own actions and the consequences that have ensued. Although this is legally true it does not diminish your parental feelings of concern for her and for your grandchild.

However, it seems your daughter is very resistant to any assistance you may offer her. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to change in the short term at least.

Your concern for your grandson’s wellbeing is something that you can and should act upon if you believe that he is at risk of serious harm and or neglect.

While any threat of suicide or self-harm must be taken seriously, it cannot be allowed to become a form of “emotional blackmail” designed to prevent others from taking necessary steps to protect a child or an adult whose behaviour has become a risk to themselves or others.

If you decide to take appropriate protective action in good faith, and in the best interests of a child at risk, then you cannot be morally or legally blamed for the action of another in choosing to take their own life, however unlikely this may be.

The Panel suggests that the first step is to consult your GP who should provide immediate guidance and prepare the necessary paperwork for referral to a clinical psychologist. As mandated notifiers, clinical psychologists can assess the situation, make a judgment on the risk level for your grandson and notify their concerns to welfare authorities if required, while also supporting you emotionally.

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Family Forum is a panel of general practitioners, medical specialists, lawyers, therapeutic and financial counsellors to discuss each letter before the appropriate professional answers it. The panel is appointed by Relationships Australia SA.

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Fill out the form below or send questions to Family Forum, The Advertiser, 31 Waymouth St, Adelaide 5000.

We treat communications in strict confidence except when the law demands otherwise, as in child abuse.