Ethical Dilemma



  • Dear Agony Aunts ...

    My daughter is 13. Great kid (not that I am biased).

    She has 13yo friends (well some, including subject of said dilemma, are still 12... but that is splitting hairs). They are also generally pretty good kids. Not as good as Ms boo but, you know, nobody is...

    Girls at times can be bitches to each other and have been in the past. Ms boo has been on the end of some of that hazing occasionally but not in this case. I relate this only because we mistook her demeanour leading up to this as reaction to her being teased or excluded.

    One of her friends, lets call her X, has in the last year had her parents break up. Dad has moved on with new partner. Mum is enjoying being single.

    Ms boo organises sleepover for her three close friends including friend above. However Ms boo seems to be particularly keen to suck up to X, starts making cards telling her how awesome she is etc. (This prior to sleepover).

    Mrs boo notices and thinks she must be being picked on and is trying to ingratiate herself. Mrs boo is a little over sensitive.

    Anyway ... Ms boo confides in me that X is having issues with her Mum who she thinks is seeing someone and is lying to her. As a result she has self harmed. Essentially scratching the living daylights out of her wrists. Has ready made excuse for scars being scratching was from pet (a pet duck in fact).

    Ms boo has told me this in strictest confidence. I am not even to tell Mrs boo as she will tell X's Mum etc.

    Dilemma arises from

    1. Concern for X and what may continue to happen to her and making sure she is safe
    2. Keeping Ms boo's confidence so she can confide in us when big things happen in her life.

    A potential good thing is X has let her friends know what is happening so it's not something she is doing in total secret. They're all complicit to the pet duck story.

    I remain conflicted.

    According to Ms boo they have talked at length and she thinks it's a one off and so everything is ok. But if it is not ... ?

    Help and advice appreciated.



  • Farrrrrrk... Not sure there is any good way to resolve this. I reckon maybe through your daughter you need to raise the topic of counseling. Most schools can arrange this. Can be done in strictest of confidence etc



  • @booboo Clearly your daughter is a good friend to have. So if I were you, I'd just check in with Ms Boo to see if she's noticed a degradation in her friend's health.

    You might want to discuss with Ms Boo how her friend's mother seeking happiness isn't a bad thing for all concerned and she might be keeping it quiet for a myriad of good reasons. Then she can take that and have a better discussion with her friend as she believes necessary. You should probably explain why an intervention may be necessary if additional self-harm becomes evident. At least that way it won't seem like you've betrayed her trust.



  • Hmmm. Ok, kudos to you and Ms Boo for having some great communication going on. Not easy with teen girls. But like someone else said, I think you need to nudge Ms Boo and pals into coaxing Ms X into counselling, because self harm is a massive cry for help. That is a 'I have so much pain inside I have to let it out somehow' type thing, based on a false feeling of control, as she is doing the cutting.

    But I have to say, I don't buy the explanation of Mum discreetly seeing someone as being a reason to self harm. If Ms X has no issues with Dad's new partner, it's hard to fathom why Mum's bloke would be an issue. Unless there is something about possible new bloke that freaks Ms X out, or triggers a particularly nasty situation from the past that she hasn't dealt with.

    If Ms X is otherwise a pretty typical teen, not prone to drama queen antics, then there is something a lot bigger bubbling under the surface to get to the cutting stage.

    Seriously, school counsellor should be first step. Her friends are doing Ms X no favour at all by carrying on the pet duck bullshit. That is how false rumours of abuse begin.

    Good luck.



  • @Mokey said in Ethical Dilemma:

    . If Ms X has no issues with Dad's new partner, it's hard to fathom why Mum's bloke would be an issue. Unless there is something about possible new bloke that freaks Ms X out, or triggers a particularly nasty situation from the past that she hasn't dealt with.

    That was my other, far darker thought. But those issues could be due to a range of things...



  • @Mokey @antipodean @NTA
    Thanks guys.

    Have realised google is my friend and have been perusing the Beyond Blue website: https://www.youthbeyondblue.com/understand-what's-going-on/self-harm-and-self-injury .

    Might get Ms boo to read that so she can get an understanding of the potential dangers.

    X can be quite highly strung so I'm guessing she is prone to worrying.

    As for who she thinks her Mum is seeing I can see there is potential complication there. Dont want to go into details as it will sound soap opera ish and frankly I don't believe it as he'd be a league or two out of his depth as it were ... but I'm sure he's got a nice personality. I think X has put 2 and 2 together and got pi squared.

    Am leaning towards contacting the school counselor. And pushing Ms boo to read and understand more of the issues. And to keep an eye out for more signs. Being 13 I'm pretty sure she and her mates want to believe it is all hunky dory now that X says it is.



  • Meant to also say that I'll try and get Ms boo to mention places like Beyond Blue and Headspace



  • Having brought up tow daughters I can empathise with your position @booboo

    And TBH not much to add to what @antipodean and @Mokey have said. Keeping the lines of communication open is so important, both in the now and for your own sake in the future.

    We had a very similar situation when my eldest told me (in confidence) that a friend of hers (and the daughter of a good friend of mine) was smoking dope at the ripe old age of 10. What to do?
    First was the discussion with Ms Cato explaining that we cannot let her friend potentially harm herself without helping (agreement), then discussing how best to help her. Talk to her, tell the school, tell her parents etc (eventual agreement that telling her parents would be the least bad option). So in the end I grassed her up (pun intended) which caused some problems between them but I had readied Ms Cato for the fallout and importantly I had not betrayed her trust.

    Good luck with it all. Loads more coming your way if my experience is anything to go by.



  • I have a slightly different take on it.
    I would not get involved... at all really.
    I think you clearly have a very special bond and relationship with your daughter that is precious and worth gold in the future when YOUR daughter needs some help or advice about her own issues or relationships. You have to tread a very fine line between giving her advice on how to be a good friend, and putting a burden on her to be a good friend.

    I am probably not explaining myself well, but if you create any more drama to this dramatic situation, you might create a situation in the future when your daughter might not speak to you about something because you always get her to do the right thing.... that might sound counter intuitive.

    Reality is that sometimes you have to put your child and your relationship with your child at the very top of any priorities.



  • @Baron-Silas-Greenback said in Ethical Dilemma:

    I have a slightly different take on it.
    I would not get involved... at all really.
    I think you clearly have a very special bond and relationship with your daughter that is precious and worth gold in the future when YOUR daughter needs some help or advice about her own issues or relationships. You have to tread a very fine line between giving her advice on how to be a good friend, and putting a burden on her to be a good friend.

    I am probably not explaining myself well, but if you create any more drama to this dramatic situation, you might create a situation in the future when your daughter might not speak to you about something because you always get her to do the right thing.... that might sound counter intuitive.

    Reality is that sometimes you have to put your child and your relationship with your child at the very top of any priorities.

    I kind of agree with this.

    I have been thinking about this situation all day and can't come to a reasonable solution to offer any advice.

    The only thing that is bugging me about this, and this is not advice, just I'm vocalising my thought process as I have dealt with enoughpeople with mental issues/illness is that there may be an opportunity to help someone that could do great and lasting damage to themself. If that did happen, what would be your train of thought after knowing you may have been able to intervene.

    In a way that is a more of a community approach than family approach.

    There is no easy answer. Some people will help the kid knowing they can teach their own children why they did that and likely get their kid to understand. Others won't take that risk of breaking a link in their bond with their kids, even if temporary.

    I'm sorry this situation has been forced upon you mate.



  • @booboo said in Ethical Dilemma:

    @Mokey @antipodean @NTA
    Thanks guys.

    Have realised google is my friend

    Yeah, google is your friend. A good friend of mine's daughter was doing the same thing a few years ago and we talked it through and googled and he eventually decided to just keep the lines of communication open, while also discouraging the practice and she seemingly grew out of it.

    We were amazed to find studies saying how prevalent it is with teenagers these days. Often cited figure is 46%, though who knows how robust that is.

    Supposedly, it's not usually related to suicidal behaviour - though it can be. I guess you've got to balance your "intervention" against how awful you'd feel if you did nothing and something bad happened.

    I'd tend to go softly and maybe through your daughter. That cutting is a terrible idea and if her friend is thinking about doing it again then she should definitely talk to her mother or a counsellor. It's not OK.



  • @Baron-Silas-Greenback @Hooroo @Catogrande and everyone who has replied to this (including @jegga on pm)

    FYI for timing this all went down last weekend and I've been going around and around in my own head since then.

    I did catch a glimpse of young lady's wrist in the car whilst dropping them off and there were definitive welts there. Pretty obvious scratching with finger nails. But if one was not expecting that I suppose you could accept the "duck" option. None so blind as those who do not wish, or pethaps more correctly, "expect" to see. Am hoping her parents are more cynical, but nobody is expecting to see that stuff.

    I've backed off going to the school. If only for reasons that there is no way of doing this subtly in a way that implicates nobody. Vacillating is a way of life for me.

    As @Hooroo says there is the case of "what if I could have done something before it took a turn for the worse/worst?"

    Hence I suppose the "ethical dilemma".

    Add in thoughts that her parents would think "why does this bloke know this intimate stuff about my child?". I know I'd be peeved.

    I have read and reread that link on Beyond Blue. And ended up emailing them.

    They came back with some reasonably non definitive advice which suggested making sure X knows about Headspace and passing on links to the Beyond Blue self harm stuff. Which is where I'm headed as subtly as possible through Ms boo.

    Reading up on this, given that she is not doing this in total secret is a good thing. My concern is/was progression from something habitual to potentially suicidal. But apparently this is rare

    Have talked to Ms boo about how we now have an obligation to care for X and ensure she is ok. And how we're in a bit of a dilemma. She agreed.

    Subsequently I have asked Ms boo to read the Beyond Blue link. Have not had a chance to follow up in detail (away from Mrs boo) but she says has. Next step is to get her to pass that on to X.

    Am not sure this will resolve itself easily or quickly or even at all. But will continue to try and do my best to keep everybody safe.

    And yes I am the proudest Dad in the world that daughter has confided in me. And when she does become a published author ( @Mokey ) I'm taking all the credit.



  • @booboo Well done mate, it seems as though you're both dealing with this well. Good luck.



  • Just as an aside ... given this is the Fern ... to clarify: reference to @Mokey was acknowledgement that she shared some ideas on how to develop Ms boo's writing talent. Ms boo writes about talking wolves and spooky forests ... not historical "romance".



  • @booboo said in Ethical Dilemma:

    Just as an aside ... given this is the Fern ... to clarify: reference to @Mokey was acknowledgement that she shared some ideas on how to develop Ms boo's writing talent. Ms boo writes about talking wolves and spooky forests ... not historical "romance".

    Fuck you, "'Donald".


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