to be surprised just how hard life is for some children/families?

(162 Posts)
SchoolNameChanger Fri 08-Feb-13 17:49:01

When my Dc were small I was working f-t and not really involved in their school life. Now I'm working p-t in their school.

I has come as a huge shock to me just how difficult life is for lots of families. From my financially comfortable, stable family life I just had no idea.

The child who is completely uncontrollable is actually a victim of child abuse and now living with foster carers.

The mother who doesn't manage to dress for the school run spent the night with severely disabled child and alcoholic father.

The boy who is regularly violent to others learnt that behaviour from his mother's boyfriend/grandfather/older brother.

The poor attendance is because the child has to get himself up and out while mum sleeps off her hangover.

Or because he's caring for seriously ill parents in another way.

Being asked for £10 for a school trip is make or break for lots of families.

Obviously I knew there were some people with really difficult circumstances, but I have been surprised at the sheer number of them. Also blush the way that "poor parenting" always has a reason behind it. The vast majority of parents do care and are doing their best, some have unbelievable things to deal with and/or no experience of what good parenting is.

Also most of the "difficult" children have experienced things that "normal" children could never imagine. We sometimes see people here talk about others' bad behaviour, but there is almost always an understandable reason for it, if only we knew (which we never will)

CabbageLeaves Fri 08-Feb-13 21:51:42

What experience are you basing your statements on married?

marriedinwhite Fri 08-Feb-13 21:54:10

As a parent; as a manager in education; on two years of a child in a top 100 comp in London, on experience in a deprived inner London borough.

HollyBerryBush Fri 08-Feb-13 21:54:32

married that is a very insightful comment, I think you have nailed society on the head there.

how many times do we have to see heinous crimes in the press get lesser sentances becaue of a tragic upbringing which are mitigating circumstances?

MariusEarlobe Fri 08-Feb-13 21:55:28

Agree with Kim.

I've worked in a inner city school in Bradford where 45% had no breakfast OR tea and the school meal was the only meal a day apart from tea and biscuits.

Where children came in filthy.

The boy who at 8 was that desperate for attention he would climb all over me the whole time.

The children who stole food, a boy who snuck back in after home time to get the thrown away reminents from the bin after the Christmas party sad

The kids who we knew we're going home to an empty house.

The children who's divorced mum and dad were amicable and died in a crash on the way somewhere and the step mum took them all on, big Asian family.

kim147 Fri 08-Feb-13 22:03:02

"a liberal or empathic approach seeks reasons for behaviours not excuses for beahviour"

Exactly scottishmummy

I totally understand the reasons the 5 and 6 year olds I work with are so so angry. Defiant, scared and angry with the world. No denying that handling them takes up a lot of teaching time and has a massive impact on the other children.

Other things I've noticed - I was asked to look after the y6 children who did not have their PE kit. 10 children. Was it a coincedence they were the ones who caused trouble in the class?

Or the children whose parents are late to pick them up on a daily basis? Not a one off but regularly. Same children with issues in class.

These children often have no one there for them. Except the adults in a school who often have to be the responsible parent for them. I wish Government and society could tackle many of these issues but where the hell do you start?

CabbageLeaves Fri 08-Feb-13 22:03:38

A manager in education covers a multitude of roles. I was meaning more do you connect and talk to parents?

My best friend works in the 'worse' school locally The tales she tells are heartbreaking. I agree that fags and drink play a heavy role in some parenting inadequacy but some parents love their children but are trapped by poverty, lack of education, lack of aspiration, abusive relationship (parental and partner), ill health, personal tragedies, mental health. The think that she says works over and above all behaviour management? Positive reinforcement of good behaviour. Hard discipline fails.

I'm a fairly zero tolerance mum but my DC have had pretty stable family life so that is expected and consistent and they are capable of meeting it. I suspect I'd fail miserably parenting a foster child from a background of abuse

marriedinwhite Fri 08-Feb-13 22:04:13

Is it best for some children to stay with their parents (mothers) regardless of everything else then? Could not alternative forms of care with lessons learnt from what went wrong in the past not be better for some children?

minouminou Fri 08-Feb-13 22:04:57

Bloody hell, Marius.
What shocks me is the cigarettes, though. £10-15 per day; money that could be spent on food.
I knew a girl years ago....21-22 or so. She had rotten teeth - all of them grey, chipped, broken. Apparently her parents never bought them toothbrushes or toothpaste, never took them to the dentist, despite it being free. They spent money on fags, booze and shite food.
The impact on her life, because of the state of her teeth, was awful. She was a nice girl, but was working on a chat line when I knew her. She daren't do anything else, as she didn't want people to see her teeth too much.

Little things like that....no toothbrush or toothpaste....you just don't think. Add that to greater abuses or neglect, and it's a life ruined.

Roseformeplease Fri 08-Feb-13 22:09:39

A friend works in a school with real problems, in the nursery with 3/4 year olds. Two children were sent to play "house" in the Wendy house in the corner. They immediately started throwing things and screaming "Fuck off" at each other. When my friend intervened, the children were not angry with each other, they were "Just playing at Mums and Dads". Breaks your heart - they were 3.

ukatlast Fri 08-Feb-13 22:12:25

YANBU I have always had a very strong social conscience but it was only when I got involved with running a Parent-run playgroup on the council estate opposite my private estate as a SAHM 10 years ago that the reality came home to me.
A lady I befriended had a drug-abusing OH whom she had turfed out numerous times, she had anxiety and depression issues but fortunately her kids were pretty well-behaved and didn't seem to have been too damaged.
Her situation was one of the better ones though as someone else said, these people have been given this social housing because they have got 'issues'. I was more used to council housing being for working people - like one set of my grandparents lol.
That was the eye-opener, the extent of the underclass. Think its getting worse not better...people and especially women make a lot of bad choices in their lives. When I had to move abroad, I got the playgroup taken over by the Surestart centre.

minouminou Fri 08-Feb-13 22:20:31

It makes me wonder if the idea of restricted benefit debit cards is such a draconian measure. You know....you can't buy booze, fags or gamble with them.

I'm sure there'd be a thriving exchange scheme going on before long, but it might dissuade some people some of the time.

CabbageLeaves Fri 08-Feb-13 22:26:07

Does anyone have up to date facts about outcomes for children in care?

Don't think there is an easy panacea married. I think we all wish there was.

not the greatest reference but from a quick google

minouminou Fri 08-Feb-13 22:32:57

Has liberalism failed?
It has it just failed a sector if society? A sector that could do with being propped up and kept in line by a stricter code?

I'm no Tory, like MIW, but I wonder if liberalism has removed essential strictures from society. People who would always have got on and done well/OK have done just that, but the ones who would never do that we'll, but would scrape by with a bit of help/carrot/stick (bit tipsy, forgive me) have been left to fester and fall.

Adversecamber Fri 08-Feb-13 22:35:48

I grew up in a horrific family, at one point some of my siblings were in care and the sister above me in birth order was in care from age 7 till adulthood.

Alcoholic stepfather, seriously abusive , horrible Mum, not enough food, lots of beatings. After my stepfather died my Mum had a breakdown and I was basically her carer at age 13.

All of us have some kind of issues, I have anxiety. Fortunately through education and a caring DH I have a decent life. My siblings have fared far worse, two of them have serious MH issues.

Both of my parents actually had decently paid jobs they were just selfish bastards.

Adversecamber Fri 08-Feb-13 22:43:43

Cabbageleaves regarding outcomes of dc in care.

Well my dsis as mentioned above left care and has had a series of seriously abusive relationships and low paid care and cleaning work. She has serious MH issues and will only speak to me and one other sibling. She also has problems with alcohol. She has never had much money, has never had a proper holiday in her entire life and is now 50.

marriedinwhite Fri 08-Feb-13 22:46:44

Adversecamber I'm so sorry - I wish it had been different for you.

minouminou Fri 08-Feb-13 22:47:01

Adverse...can you explain why she's never had a proper holiday?
Sounds like a weird Q, but I'm wondering what has prevented her.

AmberLeaf Fri 08-Feb-13 22:52:22

But he smokes 40 fags a day and is a borderline alcoholic by his own admission at CP meetings I attend with him, for his child

Min £10-14 per day =£70-100 per week and he manages to buy booze too?

What would he as a single person get in JSA per week? about £71?

Something doesnt add up.

Adversecamber Fri 08-Feb-13 23:00:30

Lack of money as always low paid and also fear. Abusive partners of hers have basically lived off her as well so she has just never had spare money, they have destroyed her mind and she has agoraphobia now.

poppypebble Fri 08-Feb-13 23:06:26

Just in the five weeks we have been back at school since Christmas I've personally spent my lunch moving the buttons on a skirt that was too small for a girl in my form because it was hurting her to sit down and her mum was not able to buy her a new one, I've engineered spilling a drink on a boy so that we could wash his uniform in the textiles room as I don't think it had been washed since September, I've 'accidently' bought too much to eat at lunch and shared it with another girl and I can't count the pens, pencils and rulers I've provided. I run homework club everyday because many of the children have nowhere to do their homework and then get in a cycle of detentions. The HOY went home with a student to show the parents how to treat for headlice.

These children cause me sleepless nights - it is half-term this week and I worry who is looking out for them when we can't. They don't really cause me behaviour problems, apart from being unable to fulfil certain expectations e.g. uniform or getting parents to sign their homework diaries. The children who distract from the learning in lessons tend to be the children who have been brought up to think themselves superior to others - and that certainly isn't these children, who have been taught to think of themselves as worthless.

minouminou Fri 08-Feb-13 23:09:07

What are we storing up for ourselves as a society here?

poppy thank you for all that you do for these vulnerable children. thanks

How can we help? What should we be doing?

OxfordBags Fri 08-Feb-13 23:25:04

Scottishmummy is spot-on about Liberalism. Far from it being the reason for these problems, it has alleviated many issues and removed much of the stigma around discussing abuse (and even poverty).

Rates of child abuse and neglect have not risen since the past. In fact, they have gone down, if we're going to go back beyond the 70s. Rates of incest, for example, are estimated to actually gone down, due to people living in less isolation and taboos on talking about it lessening. Children have always lived grim lives, albeit some times in ways that don't exist any more due to certain modern inventions and cultural mores. My father, who is in his 70s said a very astute thing to me recently - that one of the reasons why people get rose tinted glasses about childhoods of the past is that the majority of kids had very little, were treated very harshly and had no rights, so people who should call their childhoods abusive don't, as their experiences were the norm, ergo discussions about past childhoods can overlook how bad things could be for too many kids.

He is also a historian and always points out that every generation has an obsession with problematic youth. There was a massive problems with delinquent boys and young men in the 50s, easily comparable (although not with as many fatalities) as today's gun culture.

Liberalism gave us the NHS, the welfare state. It gave disenfranchised parts of society, such as women and non-whites greater equality and rights. It introduced dialogues about the rights of children and what constitutes abuse into our society. And so much more, but you get my point.

Without Liberalism, terrible childhoods would be so much more prevalent.

poppypebble Fri 08-Feb-13 23:28:48

Ah, thanks Norks, but I love my job. I don't like that these children are so vulnerable, but they are mostly lovely and so happy just to have someone pay some attention to them. When I move between main school and sixth-form I have at least 3 little followers who want to carry my bags for me so that they can have some attention and a little conversation.

I don't think it is any worse now than it ever was for the kids, but I think we know about it more now and get involved more. We shouldn't write these kids off at all, we need to provide the role models and care that they lack at home. We should crack down on the bullying of these children by those more fortunate and we should wonder why it is that SS won't get involved in the case of a 12 year old living with drug addicts who is left alone for days on end and who is neglected in every sense of the word.

How about poor behaviour due to diagnosed SN? Or those who disrupt because of those special needs and the school does fuck all to put measures in place to help deal with those special needs. And once they are diagnosed still refuse to acknowledge they are failing said child

Or the mum who isn't dressed for the school run because her autistic son has disrupted family life so much that no one gets any sleep because he has threatened to kill his younger siblings if they make a noise. The three younger ones cannot get into a proper sleep pattern and so are sleepy in lessons

Or forgotton book bags and pe kits because mum is dealing with autistic son. Mum is educated and knows how to be a parent but because of lack of money and lack of support means she cannot help her children the way she wants to.

Because this is MY life and MY experience. I really wish the Cameron's and the osbournes and the Goves in this world would live for just a week in the world of people like me and others who genuinely struggle then maybe we would see some changes.

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