Grandmother Ann came to Family Lives for Individual Support because she was anxious about her grandchild. Her son Peter was in prison, and Ann had guardianship of his three young children. Although Peter had been in prison for the last 3 years, Ann had not told her grandchildren where their father was. She wanted to protect them, so she told them that he was working away and did not let him have contact with them.
Sara, the oldest grandchild of ten, was displaying extremes in her behaviour at school, and both the school and Social Workers had been putting pressure on Ann to tell her where her father was. Ann felt panicked by the whole situation; she was adamant that she would be the person to tell Sara, but could not begin to contemplate how to bring up the subject. The individual support sessions offered Ann a safe space to express her feelings, and to look at what her own needs were and how she could meet them.
At the first session with Family Lives, Ann was very apprehensive. She voiced her fears that her granddaughter would reject and hate her if she told her where her dad was. The parent support worker allowed Ann to talk through her fears, and reminded her of her strengths. Together, they discussed different ways to broach the subject, but the support worker was very clear that the decision was Ann’s alone to make. Because she did not feel pressurized or judged, Ann told Sara about her father at a time that was right for her. When Ann came into her third session, her first words were, “I told Sara last night!” She was relieved and happy, as felt a huge weight had been lifted from her shoulders. As she had imagined, telling Sara had brought up a host of new questions, but Ann said she had decided it was best to tell her the truth in future. Sara’s school had reported that there had been a marked improvement in Sarah’s behaviour, and Ann said she had been taking letters that she had received from her father to school to show some of her teachers and her close friends.
In all, Ann had four individual support sessions. She said that she had never considered herself a strong person, but that she was now able to see how strong she really was.