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14 Year old wants to go "home"


imo2oz

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Hi, I have got problems with my eldest son (we have got 3 younger kids who are settling in pretty well). We have been living in Melbourne for 9 months now, and I was so hoping that my son would have settled by now, but perhaps I was over optimistic. We have got him into a really great school and we are earning more money here, so have offered for him to join various activities, but he is so reluctant to do anything. He agreed to go on an amazing school trip to the USA a few months ago, only to drop the bombshell yesterday that he doesn't want to go anymore....after we have paid the deposit...which he will have to cover from his own money :(

 

We moved here when he was just over 13, and I knew he was the one that would probably find it the hardest, but I did think he would be ok eventually, now I am having my doubts. He puts hardly any effort into his school work, and says he hates it there, he just wants to be back in his old school in England. When I asked him what the names of his friends at school are he listed about 20 people....but they all went to his old school. It is almost like he views where we used to live and his whole life back there with rose coloured glasses, and nothing I say can change that. I believe that he has got a few friends here, but isn't as popular as he was at his old school, and I think he might lay on how unhappy he is to get to me, I feel so guilty about it all. My OH has less sympathy, and thinks that it is too late to beat ourselves up for moving here, and that our son just needs to buck up his ideas. My main worry is that he is sabotaging his education because of this reluctance to embrace life here, and that is very stressful for me.

 

Anyone been through the same??

 

Should we send him back to England on a holiday so he can see it's not as great as he remembers it??? although this might backfire!

 

I feel a bit better already, having written it all down...

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Hi, I have got problems with my eldest son (we have got 3 younger kids who are settling in pretty well). We have been living in Melbourne for 9 months now, and I was so hoping that my son would have settled by now, but perhaps I was over optimistic. We have got him into a really great school and we are earning more money here, so have offered for him to join various activities, but he is so reluctant to do anything. He agreed to go on an amazing school trip to the USA a few months ago, only to drop the bombshell yesterday that he doesn't want to go anymore....after we have paid the deposit...which he will have to cover from his own money :(

 

We moved here when he was just over 13, and I knew he was the one that would probably find it the hardest, but I did think he would be ok eventually, now I am having my doubts. He puts hardly any effort into his school work, and says he hates it there, he just wants to be back in his old school in England. When I asked him what the names of his friends at school are he listed about 20 people....but they all went to his old school. It is almost like he views where we used to live and his whole life back there with rose coloured glasses, and nothing I say can change that. I believe that he has got a few friends here, but isn't as popular as he was at his old school, and I think he might lay on how unhappy he is to get to me, I feel so guilty about it all. My OH has less sympathy, and thinks that it is too late to beat ourselves up for moving here, and that our son just needs to buck up his ideas. My main worry is that he is sabotaging his education because of this reluctance to embrace life here, and that is very stressful for me.

 

Anyone been through the same??

 

Should we send him back to England on a holiday so he can see it's not as great as he remembers it??? although this might backfire!

 

I feel a bit better already, having written it all down...

 

Hi,

 

Unfortunatly we are in exactly the same position as you. We've been in Oz 10 months and have had such struggles with both our children. My son is 13 nearly 14 and has always wanted to return back to the UK. He misses his friends and old school so much that at times he gets so upset about being here. We've often thought that he just doesn't try to make a new life here. My son is doing well at school but he has had many struggles along the way. He has met friends but obviously he's only known them for a short time his friends in the UK he grew up with since he was 3. At times it's been so upsetting watching him struggle and makes me feel unsettled to. My son has a lot of friends in the UK and had a very busy social life, he was very involved in street dance which took up a lot of time but won't continue it here. He has joined a local gymnastics class which he enjoys but other than that is not interested in joining anything else. Watching him bored in the summer holidays was hard to as I know if he was in the UK he would of

been with his friends. He gets up early to play X Box with his UK friends and is always talking about them and rarely mentions anyone from school in Oz. My daughter is 11 and is already saying if we decided to stay as soon as she's old enough she's going back.

 

We are flying back in August and hope that it will be a turning point for us all. Taking him back in 2015 would be a nightmare for his education as he would have to go back a year to start his GCSE's. I don't know what will happen when we return to Oz after our trip back. We've tried everything to make our children feel more settled we've bought a boat and do many things we could only ever dream of doing in the UK but for us there comes a point where out children's happiness will take president on wether we decide to stay long term or not. We've just purchased some land to build a house so we're tied to Oz for a couple of years and I'm happy about that. I agree that we all look back with rose tinted glasses especially our son but he knows best or so he thinks. I completely understand your worries but I think 13/14 are difficult years wherever you are. I wish you good luck.

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Thank you for your reply mattster155, yes your situation sounds so similar. My son was into soccer in the UK, and he has only last week agreed to try out for a team here. He is so negative it is dragging me down a bit, despite life being pretty good here. Like you we do lots of trips and days out to make the most of being here, and although he does enjoy himself to a point it always comes back to the fact that here is not as good as England....banging my head against a brick wall now. It will be very interesting to hear how your trip back goes in August, I wonder if your son will settle better when he returns...

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Hi, I have got problems with my eldest son.......... Should we send him back to England on a holiday so he can see it's not as great as he remembers it??? although this might backfire!

 

I feel a bit better already, having written it all down...

 

Hi, whilst not in your situation, I know two couples who are, one of them has an Australian daughter who lived in the UK for five years, and now wants to go back. I'm old school, and have very strong opinions. Send him back, let him see what he will be missing, a great country and a loving family, the choice will then be his, why should his attitude, spoil it for the rest of you, in particular, his siblings. I left to join the Army at fourteen and a half, so know fully, that I missed my family like crazy.

 

Good luck, what ever you do, will be wrong in his eyes.

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Who knows what will happen and how we'll feel , I know that he is literally counting the days down till we fly back and this keeps him going. He has three weeks planned with his friends. It will either backfire and make him worse or make him appreciate what he has here in Oz. I'm constantly telling him that some of his friends could only ever dream of living the life he has. If only we'd done this when the children were younger as it would have been so much easier. Take each day at a time and listen to how he feels and try to understand as difficult as it may be. I'll let you know how we go. Louise x

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Hi, whilst not in your situation, I know two couples who are, one of them has an Australian daughter who lived in the UK for five years, and now wants to go back. I'm old school, and have very strong opinions. Send him back, let him see what he will be missing, a great country and a loving family, the choice will then be his, why should his attitude, spoil it for the rest of you, in particular, his siblings. I left to join the Army at fourteen and a half, so know fully, that I missed my family like crazy.

 

Good luck, what ever you do, will be wrong in his eyes.

 

I think you are spot on with that last comment Daveakaginge, no one warned me that teenagers are such hard work, and so frustrating! We should look at sending himback to spend time with family and friends, and let him judge for himself. We can't really all go as on top of 6 flights we would need to pay for 6 Res Return Visas, so that isn't viable at the moment, one ticket would be ok though....

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Louise, thanks for that. Yes it is important to keep listening, and remain patient, although that is incredibly hard when you feel that someone isn't helping themselves....but i suppose the problem is they are dealing with all this and also the turmoil of adolescence, which is a tricky mix! I would love to hear how it all goes for you in August, fingers crossed for you.

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I don't speak from experiences with kids, but my own experience as an adult. Especially in the beginning (and now after our holiday back home) I have a terrible case of homesickness. This makes you feel so depressed, you can't think straight, you think about your home country all the time and just don't enjoy anything in Oz. It's not that the things you are doing aren't nice, but the "depressed feeling" just overrules any feeling of joy.

 

My most important message: It is not a choice how he feels. It's something that happened to him, it is very hard to deal with and hard to overcome (some can't overcome at all). You might be able to overcome it, but I can only imagine it's even harder for a kid, especially if he was dragged along by his parents.

 

It's not meant as an offence, maybe looking at it from a different perspective (his perspective) might help :)

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Letting him go back, even for a holiday, could backfire. He shouldn't be allowed to make the rest of the family miserable. The problem is likely down to "teen blues" and not wholly down to missing his friends and the UK..............it is difficult enough to deal with kids of that age let alone without the problems of migrating.

 

My grandson visited us twice when he was 12 and 14, and although his mother wanted to migrate, he said that he would never leave his friends, school, or the UK so she put it on hold. At 16, after sitting his O levels, and probably realising his friends would likely go their own way, he simply turned round one day and said to his sister, "when we going to Australia then"? He's been here 18 months now and doesn't regret a minute of it, nor does his older sister who said similar, albeit at an older age............she now works at Australia zoo and isn't even interested in a visit back to the UK.

 

Kids swop and change all the time at that age.................they're mostly "lost" and in view of that, attempts must be made to direct them................they simply shouldn't be allowed to dictate as to what they want at the expense of others' happiness. I'm "old school" also, and like Dave, I joined up at 15.........if I hadn't, I'd probably be dead or in prison now..............I needed a 'firm hand" and 'direction"..............although how you go about that (due to a change in peer pressure and parenting since my days) is open to question, as only a parent knows just how far they can "push it" and likewise, they should dictate to their kids just how far they (the kids) can push it also.

 

They're difficult years for any kid, and I wish you, and yours, the best of luck in coming through it.

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I don't speak from experiences with kids, but my own experience as an adult. Especially in the beginning (and now after our holiday back home) I have a terrible case of homesickness. This makes you feel so depressed, you can't think straight, you think about your home country all the time and just don't enjoy anything in Oz. It's not that the things you are doing aren't nice, but the "depressed feeling" just overrules any feeling of joy.

 

My most important message: It is not a choice how he feels. It's something that happened to him, it is very hard to deal with and hard to overcome (some can't overcome at all). You might be able to overcome it, but I can only imagine it's even harder for a kid, especially if he was dragged along by his parents.

 

It's not meant as an offence, maybe looking at it from a different perspective (his perspective) might help :)

 

Thank you FOL, that comment did make me think. He did agree to coming to Oz in the very initial stages, but by the time everything was in place and we left, he had changed his mind and definitely didn't want to go. Now he won't even acknowledge that he agreed to go initially, he just says that he never wanted to come here and we forced him. This isn't exactly true, as if he had said no in our initial discussion we probably would have left the whole idea...but on the other hand, he changed a lot between age 11 and age 13, and so perhaps it is unfair to remind him that he agreed to give Australia a go when he was a lot younger, just rubbing salt into the wound so to speak.

Perhaps a gentle approach s needed...but the reality is my OH has a good job here and we have no reason or even savings to start up again in the UK, so it isn't an option and my son knows that.

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When we came out our daughter was 12, and has now just turned 15. She has settled brilliantly, with a strong circle of (really good) friends. Yes, she did miss people back in the UK, and still does, but her home is here - indeed she reminded us the other day that whatever the failings of the rather iffy suburb we live in now, its a lot better than the town we lived in back in the UK! I think what helped for her was us coming out together with the mindset that this was for keeps, so we had to make a go of it, however tough it got. I sense a little from the OP that they are still not quite committed to staying, and this may be part of the issue for their son. I do know of one family who came from the States with a son of similar age to the OP and he similarly did not settle at once, unlike his younger siblings. But after two years or so, I know he has settled much better - so it may be for the OP's son as well a teenage phase that will just pass. And yes, teenagers are flaming hard work!!

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I think it is time for a bit of tough love.

 

I suspect he is spending a lot of time on social networks chatting to his old mates. I think this needs to be VERY limited if not temporarily banned.

 

I think you need to say he will attend the trip to the USA - you are his parent and what you say goes. The trip has the potential to be incredibly good for him as it will offer a opportunity for a bonding period with his new school mates.

 

I think you need to have a one to one talk with him and explain there is no point saying "i want to go home" as this is home and that if he still wants to go to the UK when he is 18, he can. But until then, he this is home. You need to emphasise why you have all made this move and what advantages you ae getting from it

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When we came out our daughter was 12, and has now just turned 15. She has settled brilliantly, with a strong circle of (really good) friends. Yes, she did miss people back in the UK, and still does, but her home is here - indeed she reminded us the other day that whatever the failings of the rather iffy suburb we live in now, its a lot better than the town we lived in back in the UK! I think what helped for her was us coming out together with the mindset that this was for keeps, so we had to make a go of it, however tough it got. I sense a little from the OP that they are still not quite committed to staying, and this may be part of the issue for their son. I do know of one family who came from the States with a son of similar age to the OP and he similarly did not settle at once, unlike his younger siblings. But after two years or so, I know he has settled much better - so it may be for the OP's son as well a teenage phase that will just pass. And yes, teenagers are flaming hard work!!

 

fensaddler, i hope you are right and that time will sort this out, perhaps 9 months is just not long enough for him to feel settled here at all.

With regards to our commitment to Oz as a family, i think we definitely are! My OH has absolutely no desire to live back in the UK again, and as a family prospects are far better for us here. Somehow more seems possible over here in the way of activities and lifestyle. I like it here myself, but feel guilty about leaving my parents. I don't envisage us moving back though. I think for me, if all the kids were happy I would be absolutely fine here most of the time (i think everyone is allowed the odd day of homesickness?!).

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I'm with VS, carry on with his US trip. It will be an experience for him, perhaps give him time to get to know other kids better, miss you guys and appreciate what he is coming back to once the trip is over. He said he wanted to go, he goes. It's about learning responsibility, stepping up a bit, life experience, all within the safety net of a school trip.

 

I'd also look to how much time he is spending on social media and chatting with people back in the UK. If it's a lot, at some point you have to limit it to remove it so he can actually bring both feet over to Aus nouns start living there in the here and now and not live vicariously through his friends on FB or some such back in the UK. It often makes things worse hankering over what you left behind and teens can make life notoriously hard in themselves in this respect. It's also those teenage years when so many changes happen and a move to Aus in top has probably caused him to withdraw.

 

If he had lots of good friends in the UK he may well be struggling here not being as popular or being he new kid. But if he doesn't put the time and effort in now, nothing will change for him. It's worth pointing out that for many people as kids, teenagers, those people they went to school with once school is left behind and people head to uni, move away, work and so on, often those friendships don't really last to change beyond all recognition. Yes for some a few friendships endure but unless everyone stays in their hometown and lives the same lives, it's not the norm. Of course when you are 14 you can't know or think this.

 

We moved when I was 14. New town, 2 hours from where we had lived. I didn't want to go, it may as well have been the moon or Outer Mongolia for all I cared. But given there was no Facebook, no mobile phones to text or call, no email, I just slowly go on and accepted and embraced the new place. You could have moved to Edinburgh or Plymouth and still been faced with the same situation with him as you are now. You chose Aus, hopefully given time it will work, but it isn't an instant fix or a few months, it can be a year or two.

 

He can either make the most of it and have a chance to be happy or carry on as he is and make himself more miserable and others around him also. I think if he can change his view to a more positive one it will change a lot of things for you all. Till then though, he is on a losing one. Football may help, meeting kids he can connect with. He needs to find some common ground and his confidence. Help him help himself but don't give in to him and his behaviour IMHO else you are going to be doing so for a long time to come. Also get over to him his education is important. Support him with the changes and see if there is anything there he is struggling with.

 

I met a young woman the other day, working on the checkout in Woolies. Chatty, full of smiles, asked me whereabouts in England I came from, told her where and she said she had lived not far from there and moved here when she was 13. That the first year she had struggled but then found her feet with it all and made some good friends and she never looked back and she loved Aus, was now at uni and no plans to return to the UK. Kids can have it hard but honestly, they can make a go of it also. It's a case of them putting in time and effort like everyone else and not expecting it to just happen or be like it was, because it isn't. Sometimes life sucks, but it's now we deal with those things that make or break us.

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You are right fensaddler. We are not yet committed to staying and I feel that this has contributed to him feeling unsettled. We said we'd try for two years which I feel now wasn't the right thing to tell him as this gives him a get out clause. I have now tried to change my mind set and be positive about our experience and ignore his negative comments made about his life here.

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fensaddler, i hope you are right and that time will sort this out, perhaps 9 months is just not long enough for him to feel settled here at all.

With regards to our commitment to Oz as a family, i think we definitely are! My OH has absolutely no desire to live back in the UK again, and as a family prospects are far better for us here. Somehow more seems possible over here in the way of activities and lifestyle. I like it here myself, but feel guilty about leaving my parents. I don't envisage us moving back though. I think for me, if all the kids were happy I would be absolutely fine here most of the time (i think everyone is allowed the odd day of homesickness?!).

 

Apologies if I read into your post more than was there. I think the advice from snifter and VERY STORMY looks sound. Nine months is a relatively short time, and I think you will all get through this. Good luck.

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You are right fensaddler. We are not yet committed to staying and I feel that this has contributed to him feeling unsettled. We said we'd try for two years which I feel now wasn't the right thing to tell him as this gives him a get out clause. I have now tried to change my mind set and be positive about our experience and ignore his negative comments made about his life here.

 

Now I understand. I got your comments mixed up with the OP's...

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I think you are all being a little harsh. I had this done to me several times. 13 is a very delicate age, there is so much uncertainty at this age. To take a child away from their support group whilst they are at their most vulnerable, and then just expecting them to suck it up can do serious damage. I suffered depression and was suicidal (never attempted) for many many years, and I really only fixed things by moving back to the UK. You have taken away the fabric of these children's lives for what? Sunshine, a bigger house and higher wages? Not all kids are as materialistic as others. You all need to have a serious discussion within your families about what you are trying to achieve, and you need to justify the pain you have caused. God help you if you can't. You may well find what you did to your parents gets done to you. And that bitter sorrow can be hard to chew.

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Can’t relate directly to the teenager issue but something said in here rang a bell. The whole social media thing, keeping bang up to date with news and events from the UK etc. can be a hindrance to settling I reckon.

One of my sisters-in-law is never off Facebook, knows every move her friends are making back in the UK, is never off the Liverpool Echo website, knows more about what’s going on in Liverpool than Perth … I could go on for hours. The upshot of all this is that she has never really settled in Australia. And she's 30-odd, not 13.

 

IMO, part of the reason is that, she hasn’t moved for herself, she moved for her husband and family; and they are all chuffed to bits living over here, but she isn’t.

So, maybe some parallels there but, yeah, the social media stuff can get too much sometimes I reckon. Great when you need it but, if it wasn’t there, she probably would have got on with her life over here a bit better.

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Hi imo2oz,

 

We are in the same situation as yourself, we also have a 14 year old boy who has just not settled in Perth. Our 11 year old has settled great and has heaps of friends here, the older one is really struggling. We moved over from New Zealand where he has lived since being 3 so he had a lot of good friends there, he hates everything about Perth, the weather is too hot for him, a lot of the kids at school play AFL and are not interested in soccer, the list goes on and on, he also dislikes his school. I think boys generally have a lot more trouble settling than girls, they go through the teens reluctant to talk to their parents and have difficulty communicating at the best of times, he has contacts here, but no-one he goes back years with and he doesn't put himself out there enough and does not want to be the one to initiate any contact, all he talks about is going back to the UK, although it will be the same with regard to settling there as he never grew up there and will again have to start all over again, if it can't be the UK, he talks about going back to NZ and boarding at his old school (which is not an option). Partly because of him we are in two minds as to whether to stay here, thinking it may be easier for him if we were back within our wider family (we are not just thinking about leaving because of him, but for other reasons also). I think you have to be cruel to be kind and tell him its not an option to go back, maybe then he will look forward and not back all the time, he may struggle for a few years, but once maturity kicks in (or a girlfriend comes along), I feel things will change for them. I wouldn't send him back to England on holiday I think its the worst thing you could do, kids don't see the negatives at his age, his main concern will be being back with his friends and that is all that will concern him, he will return feeling even more depressed and unhappy. Good luck whatever you decide, its not easy as all you want is for the kids to be happy.

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Maybe if he's only just agreed to start playing soccer again he will get into that, make a few friends and change again. He might find he's a bit of a star if he's any good. A lot of the kids who are good at soccer are British heritage and tend to have parents who know a bit about the game. Most aussie kids still seem to like aussie rules more. My two have had a go at all sorts and they both enjoyed aussie rules most. The eldest one tried soccer for a couple of years but went back to AFL.

 

He sounds like a typical teenager tbh. Does he spend lots of time in his bedroom talking to friends on skype, chat lines, games, facebook or whatever else they use? If he does he's not really giving it a good go here. Hopefully he'll get over it, I'm with your other half, let him stew in his own juice for a bit and don't let him make you feel guilty.

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Feeling for you imo2oz..... The teenage years are notoriously difficult for parents and teenagers. Just think about all the hormonal stuff happening in their bodies and the physical growth going on. Not to mention the peer pressure they are under. Although they are becoming adult in size and shape, you must remember that teenagers are actually still children and do not have the mental capacity or experience that an adult does. So keep showing your love and giving hugs or whatever is your family "thing" to show you care. Whilst going through similar issues with my 14 year old daughter, eons ago, the School Counsellor told me that I should remember that a teenagers main job in life was to annoy the wotsit out of their parents and to oppose anything the parents wanted to do. Although I don't totally subscribe to that view, there is some truth to it.

 

Whilst all that should be taken into account, the bottom line is that teenagers are on a steep curve about feelings, their bodies, life, right and wrong etc, but they shouldn't be allowed to take over a family and countermand decisions made by their parents as it is just sending the wrong message and will make them even more self centred. Old school thinking maybe, but from what I have observed, teenagers nowadays are just as teenagers of yesteryear and want instant gratification for everything from where they live to what they wear and where they go. In their view any parent who puts up boundaries is "unfair". But it is those boundaries that are part of the learning curve of being an adult. You have to learn to take responsibility for your actions after all.

 

I do agree with Verystormy in his comments, especially the one about social media. Nothing wrong with it, but it can become obsessive and your sons access to it should be reigned in perhaps.

 

As far as the US trip is concerned, he wanted to go initially so maybe you should insist that he goes. Time away from family and bonding with new school friends can be very beneficial in many ways. Have you discussed this with the teacher who is organising the school trip? Remember they would be used to dealing with teenagers and probably have some strategies you might be able to try.

 

I think you should sit down, just the three of you, and discuss this. Talk about him being a minor and your responsibility as parents, and as your family is staying in Australia, he has to do so too until he is 18. Explain that the better he does at school, the better education he will have to take him into adulthood and then he is able to make his own decisions about what he wants to do, go, be, etc.... As a normal teenager he probably won't get it, but at least he might think about it and realise eventually that you took that stance for his benefit. No lessons in life are easy, but none of us would have wisdom and experience to help us make decisions without them. Sometimes the hardest learnt lessons carry the most benefits.

 

Being a parent of a teenager is never easy and situations like this can cause many other knock-on problems with other siblings. You give in to one of them and before you know it, the kids run the house! There is no text book with all the answers and every family will have teenagers with different issues. Just be strong and never stop letting him know that you love him.

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Newjez, my children's happiness is one of the most important parts in all of this and I am aware how hard they sometimes find it. I keep all lines of communication open so he knows that how he feels is important to us and does matter, there are always other options to consider if he continues to feel like this. Sunshine, more money and a bigger house were certainly not a part of why we came to Australia and I am constantly aware that I have taken my children away from their other relatives which is why we plan to go back later this year. I know going back may not be the best thing but I need to see my family and they need to see us too. I'm a true believer that nothing lasts forever and circumstances change all the time.

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I moved from Oz to Holland when I was 13, an to be truthfull have never really forgiven my parents for it, maybe not for the move itself but my parents sending me to an international school 30km away, taking over 1 hour on bus train and bus again living too far away from school and friends.....

 

He will get over it, but you should really make it clear to him that you aren't going back, he is going on his US school trip and take social media away from him bar one day 1 or 2 hours...... what is he doing when he gets home or in the weekends? playing/chatting with his mates back home while his ozzie school mates are probably doing stuff together leaving him out....

Tough times ahead but things will change, just be strict an give him a bit of time

 

best of luck!

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I concur with the social media - it was so much easier when we didn't have it.

 

However, situational depression is a very real phenomenon and it may just not be possible for your son to "buck up" - youth mental health is not good in Aus and I would be worried that he might enter into the self destructive behaviour patterns he will be seeing around him. Obviously he can't dictate what happens for the whole family if you are happy where you are but he is of an age where he needs to feel he has choices and at the moment he is trapped with none. Could he return to UK, board with relatives or friends and get himself through the rest of his education for example without risking his visa? It's a risk you take but he may well decide that life with you in a place he hates is better than life without you except for holidays. If you continue to trap him, being a contrary teenager, it's likely to get much worse before it gets better unfortunately.

 

I'd go with the "I'm really sorry you're feeling this way but we do have to stay here so what would make it better for you and what can you do to make it better?" routine. And I would seriously throw the boarding with family into the mix - it's a gamble but you have potentially more to lose. Yr 9 is a jungle unfortunately!

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