He grew into a monster who verbally bullied me, spat at me and damaged my property...
I have been a single mother for the last 7 years. My 14 year old son didn’t know his father, but he came into his life a few years ago, disappointed him and now doesn't bother. Along with that, the teenage hormones started to rage in my once lovely caring and polite child. He grew into a monster who verbal bullied me, spat at me and damaged my property.
I had him arrested twice and eventually put into care when no-one would help us. Social services did not help us, and I didn’t have the support of my mother and grandmother because I’d had my son arrested, even when I wasn't coping, got severe depression and put a knife to my wrist.
Having great friends helped, but the biggest help was Family Lives. Having someone to answer the phone in the middle of the night when I couldn't cope anymore. Having other parents on the forums telling me I was a good mum and doing the right thing kept me going and made me realise I wasn't alone and far from the only person suffering from their teenager.
I can’t face all the lessons I have with the bullies...
Tom came to us when the bullying wouldn’t stop:
“My grades at school have gone right down and I'm bunking off when my mum's at work because I can't face all the lessons I have with the bullies. I'm being called names about my weight and I have nobody to go around with at break. When I sit down with my packed lunch the others get up and move away. I'm taking so much time off that my mum is going to find out soon. I've told my head of year and she spoke to them but they're still doing it. This is making me feel very depressed and I've self-harmed a few times”.
We made sure Tom had someone to talk to. Our experts reassured Tom that he wasn't alone, and gave him the guidance, support and strength he needed to find a way to make his situation better.
I was on maternity leave and was starting to feel increasingly isolated and lost...
Going from full time work to full time mum after a long gap between my children was frightening. Working full time since having my eldest daughter had meant I didn’t have a network of ‘parent’ friends to support me.
The Health Visitor had persuaded me to attend a stay and play at the local children’s centre. So, after building up the courage, I decided to go. Another parent encouraged me to attend a group workshop run by Family Lives; there was a free crèche and it was an opportunity to meet other local parents.
I learnt so much from other parents on the course and from the Family Lives support worker. Having the time and opportunity to evaluate our own personal experiences and listen to others really changed my outlook. I carried a lot of guilt for working full time and realised just how much this affected the way I dealt with things.
My son also has complex speech and language issues and I wanted to find ways of supporting and encouraging him. I learnt a lot about myself, our community and my relationship with my children.
I still use Family Lives’ website; the online resources are fantastic and I have encouraged other people to use it when they don’t know where to turn. As parents we don’t have all of the answers and sometimes just need someone else to help us find our own answers. Family Lives made me realise that it's ok to reach out when you feel you are not able to cope, whoever you are, whatever your background, whatever the issue. It was an amazing experience and the sessions and people I met touched our lives in a way I would never have first envisaged.Especially as it was just 5 half day sessions.
Who would ever believe so much could be achieved in such a short period of time. I am sure my story is just one of many, but Family Lives made a big difference to our little family.
I was a recovering alcoholic when I first found Family Lives...
I am a single parent of two wonderful boys, now aged 9 & 15. In brief, my history has been difficult – I was a recovering alcoholic when I first found Family Lives, and together our small family unit was repairing a damaged past with no support network. Both my boys were experiencing separate difficulties at school, creating a huge set of problems for me to deal with alone. My youngest child was labelled as a bully, was very unhappy in school and sadly on the verge of being excluded. When you have a child with emotional behaviour difficulties, the pressure on all the family is very intense and exhausting – I felt extremely isolated and frustrated. So there you have my circumstances, which at the time seemed quite desperate.
Although I have tried other agency services to help support us all, nothing touched our home quite like Family Lives. After seeing the same poster, over a number of weeks on the school window: ‘Less shouting, more cooperation’, my instinct was ‘I have nothing to lose!”. After calling Family Lives’ Helpline, I was given the chance to tell someone of my struggle. I was amazed at the quick response and the solution of support offered to me. Within hours I was set up on a telephone support programme which enabled me to speak openly and honestly about my feelings and fears on a weekly basis.
Shortly after, I began my first workshop and within two weeks life was becoming clearer and manageable. Attending the workshop each week gave me the opportunity to share and listen to other parents and their problems around their children, school and home. I no longer felt alone or isolated and we helped each other. I received direction, support, and understanding with no hint of judgement from anyone I spoke to. I find it difficult to describe the comfort Family Lives gave me – to know that support was there and that the new strategies I was acquiring worked for me, and also how I communicated with my children’s schools.
As a family things have moved on tremendously. Life is difficult for us all at times and I believe parenting is now more difficult than ever. However I am now able to identify needs and apply working solutions in our home and in my life. My youngest son is an absolute example of how supporting a parent can support a child. He is a happy and popular nine year old pupil in the same school and a very promising student.
My eldest son and I have a close, loving relationship which I know would never have come to light had someone not listened and understood when I made my initial call to Family Lives. I am now a proud, confident single parent, coping well with the big and small problems and I just couldn’t express my thanks to everybody at Family Lives who have played a part in helping me repair, maintain and rebuild my family to the strength it is today.