Julie Myerson - why am I not surprised that a book has materialised concerning her own son's drug issues?

(1001 Posts)
glasjam Sun 01-Mar-09 20:57:25

Read this is in today's Observer www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/mar/01/julie-myerson-novel-drug-addiction

Does anyone else have the uncomfortable feeling that I have on learning that she is writing about her son's drug problems? I know that writers often mine their own personal experiences for material but I think she's putting her literary endeavours ahead of her son here. From what I can gather, he is still young, his drug issues are ongoing, and although he is out of the family home, surely this is risking any possible future reconcilliation? I also baulk at the way she "weaves historical research about Yelloly with her disturbing account of her son's ejection from the family home" It just smacks of middle-class-writer angst.

My cynicism is further fuelled by my very strong suspicion that Julie Myerson is the author of Living with Teenagers - but that's another story...

cherryblossoms Sun 01-Mar-09 21:50:11

I suspect the "Living with Teenagers" connection too, and it always used to make me think "eew". I suppose, in principle, this does too.

I can see that writing a narrative of a disturbing event can give you control and shape, and may benefit others who read it. But it must also be true that that power and control is the writer's first and foremost, and is shadowed by a power that is not held/exercised by those who may have shared the experience but have not shared in writing the narrative. And that is more true if the narrative is then published under a name.

And I know it's silly but I always think of how much A. A. Milne's son hated "Christopher Robin".

glasjam Mon 02-Mar-09 09:13:03

I am sure there will be plenty of outpourings of love and sympathy towards her son in her book but the blunt fact of the matter is that this book is hopefully (for Julie Myerson at least) going to be bringing money into the family home to feed and clothe her other two children - all on the back of her elder son's problem. I am sure it will shift more units than her musings on Yelloly and her water-colour album alone. Sounds like she is very much hedging her bets in a literary sense - not being able to swim in the same waters as all the other "my drug hell" books - trying to make it something other by weaving in all this other research that she can't bear to abandon.

Her son isn't lying in some gutter somewhere in a stupour - he's allegedly living with a friend's family and holding down a job in the music industry. Once it's published he's going to have a few people beating down his door I would think. Perhaps he has literary aspirations of his own and will write his own version of events? Somehow I am sure it would find a publisher.

BonsoirAnna Mon 02-Mar-09 09:15:16

I cannot stand Julie Myserson - navel-gazer extraordinaire.

bagsforlife Mon 02-Mar-09 14:33:00

That'll be why the Living with Teenagers column suddenly disappeared then! So she could put it all in a book as well.

Her son is only 17. It's not very old really, how sad that it has all ended like this, I would be distraught if I had had to throw one of my children out at that age. Also, if its been 'going on' for 5 years as she says, he must have started smoking dope or whatever at 12....very sad indeed. Personally I wouldn't want to write a book about it.

TwoIfBySea Wed 04-Mar-09 11:29:52

It is in one of the papers today that her son isn't too chuffed about this. No kidding. Wouldn't read it anyway as she is always sitting on the edge of her seat on Newsnight review desperate to get her point of view across as obviously it is the only one that matters!

charitygirl Wed 04-Mar-09 11:33:03

Oh god you're right! She must have been the Living with Teenagers author!

LadyThompson Wed 04-Mar-09 11:38:46

Once went to a literary event where her husband was speaking. He came across as being utterly ghastly and indeed has done so in newspaper articles he has written since (I remember one about how proud he was about loathing football and how he ridiculed the sport constantly to his son, who loved it sad) Poor kids. They don't stand much chance with those two tiresome egomaniacs for parents.

charitygirl Wed 04-Mar-09 11:47:00

Here is the aricle with the son.

He does sound very difficult and immature - am familiar with the delusional self-justification of the habitual skunk user, sadly. Not to mention the stealing, inability to complete tasks, personality change, and self-pity (that might just be a teenage thing of course).

And I can see why a writer might write about this. But couldn't she have not published it. Or waited a decade or two?!

muffle Wed 04-Mar-09 11:54:09

I've always really disliked her since I read an article she wrote about why she agreed with smacking and described hitting her 10-year-old son and how it helped him calm down and he really loved her for it hmm hmm hmm

Not sure if it was the same son - was a while ago - but I thought you awful, awful cruel woman. Smacking debate aside - though I do think hitting children is wrong - to reveal the details of something so humiliating and personal about her child in the national press was so uncaring and she obviously gave no thought to the feelings of a child easily old enough to read that, understand it and also have his peers see it. Appalling.

Oh dear. I always thought she was probably the author of Living with Teenagers, but she crossed so many boundaries with that (if it was indeed her) that the book thing doesn't surprise me in the least. When will writing parents ever learn that their children are not given to them for copy purposes.

dittany Wed 04-Mar-09 13:26:01

The obvious thing is for her son to do is write a book about his parents - "Living with fuckwits".

The Living with Teenagers mother was pathetic, if it is her I feel very sorry for her children.

Penthesileia Wed 04-Mar-09 13:27:07

Oh God, Anna. ME TOO! grin She drives me nuts, and she's such a brainless airhead: I do NOT understand how she gets invited on Newsnight Review... She makes me shriek with barely contained rage.

<mutters balefully to self>

muffle Wed 04-Mar-09 13:31:06

The things I've read by her suggest JM has a lot more confidence and arrogance than the LWT mum, who came across as so needy and just wanted her kids to like her, tell her everything and not have changed since they were 5! Guess it could be her though - the kids seem about the right ages.

BonsoirAnna Wed 04-Mar-09 13:31:42

grin It was her frightful insightless column (now defunct?) about her lower class childhood in places no-one's ever heard of and where nothing ever happened in the Weekend FT that made me loathe her so much...

She must sleep with editors to get so much work.

dittany Wed 04-Mar-09 13:31:58

I would disagree that she's an airhead - some of her writing is very good. It's just a shame she's decided to use her family as a topic.

Then again there are all sorts of writers who do that, maybe they just disguise it better.

chocolatedot Wed 04-Mar-09 13:40:08

Aside from that Anna, don't you just love the weekend FT? My favourite paper.

BonsoirAnna Wed 04-Mar-09 13:46:46

Yes, I love it, and The Economist smile.

bagsforlife Wed 04-Mar-09 15:31:18

Agree with Dittany re her son writing a book!!

Sadly her son appears to be the product of his upbringing.

sfxmum Wed 04-Mar-09 15:43:58

I don't think she is the living with teenagers author I seem to recall an article where they were 'outed'
as for JM's son he has been in the tabloids telling his side of the story I have not read it
can't comment on her worthiness as a writer as she usually annoys me on Newsnight review so have never felt compelled to pick up her fiction

unavailable Wed 04-Mar-09 16:13:56

You may not like her writing, but I think the insinuation that its her fault that her son has a drug problem ("her son appears to be a product of his upbringing") is hurtful and unnecessary.

When I hear stories about how drug abuse has ripped apart families I feel a real sense of gratitude that I havent had to deal with this and a sense of "there for the grace of god".

luckywinner Wed 04-Mar-09 16:42:36

I have read the book - a proof copy, and I liked it a lot. I have never read any of her books but it made me sad for both her and her son.

I have a ds nearly 4 and every time I read about her son in the book it made me realise it doesn't matter how much you love your children you never know what is ahead. There but for the grace of God and all that.

I agree with unavailable, I'm not sure this is the result of upbringing, and a bit sad that something like that can be said about parenting on a website that is supposed to supportive.

LadyThompson Wed 04-Mar-09 17:13:44

I have no idea whether it's the result of upbringing or not. But am quite entitled to think that she and her husband come across as pains in the proverbial...and I think using her kids for copy is a bit yuck.

unavailable Wed 04-Mar-09 17:19:22

You can think what you like about them LadyT, and I feel uneasy about using kids for copy too. It was the suggestion that parents are to blame for their teenaged son's addiction problems that made me cross.

If only things were that simple.

charitygirl Wed 04-Mar-09 17:59:27

I thought bagsforlife just meant the son appears to be a fuckwit...like his parents lol!

bagsforlife Wed 04-Mar-09 19:31:35

Yes, I did really.

I know it sounded a bit harsh, I didn't mean it to be so judgmental. I have two DCs at university and a teen who are by no means perfect and I also know people with teens with drug problems. It is easy to think 'there for the grace of God go I' and I do think that too but I do think the parents sound very self centered, and that can exacerbate any problems with teens.

But you are right, I didn't mean to cause offence. It is obviously a very complicated and difficult problem and I was just being
a bit flippant. Sorry.

auntyitaly Thu 05-Mar-09 11:11:38

While we don’t know Myerson personally, the facts are that:

She has exposed her son publicly
Opened him up to personal hurt
Laid him open to the public gaze in a way that can hardly be helpful for him or his career - for rather a long time

And asked for sympathy for, er, herself.

I know it’s taboo to mention, particularly on Mumsnet, and it’s certainly unpleasant to even feel, but it might be worth suggesting that from the evidence we have that Myerson might not love her son very much. Or that if she does, she’s got a funny way of showing it.

Either may go a little way to explaining why he’s a dope fiend.

Hundreds of journalists and novelists use themselves and their families as material – many rely on it - without shafting anyone, let alone as much as this book does.

Miggsie Thu 05-Mar-09 11:39:12

It must be very hard growing up if your parent regards you as a source of column inches and income rather than a human being with wants and needs.

I feel sorry for the boy, the mother really is so self centred..."my child is having problems, it is terrible for me..." there is no sense she wants to help/understand her son.

Writing a book on your child's mental health problems for your own gain is up there with selling them off to the chimney sweep once you'd had enough of them (this option no longer avaiable so writing books on them is like a modern equivalent)...that's just my opinion of course.

LoisGriffin Thu 05-Mar-09 12:00:40

I'm a bit torn over this one.
I think that as a writer she may have been finding it difficult to write about anything else if this problem was a big as it clearly was.
However I don't think she needed to publish it and I don't buy the bullshit about 'helping other people'.

Also everyone has different tolerance levels.
Plenty of parents of teenagers that I know see their dcs go off the rails for a while (quite often taking drugs) and don't see the need to take such drastic action. Others may do it for a lot less.

Apparently son has said there was no addiction and no problem - but then of course he would say that.

And just to add I am not a fan of either Mr or Mrs Myerson...

LoisGriffin Thu 05-Mar-09 12:20:07

Oh yes and another thing -
If son is staying at friend's house are the Myersons contributing to his upkeep there?

Just wondered...

ipanemagirl Thu 05-Mar-09 14:59:00

I don't think her defence justifies invading your child's privacy however much suffering she's gone through.

If her son had approved it then, he's over 18 so that would be fine. But he did not approve it. She is exploiting him, maybe not for money, she won't make loads of money out of it. But it is simply inappropriate for a parent to do this imo, just wrong. There is something really narcissistic about it too I'm afraid. It's just so me me me. What about his needs?

But I ain't a fan of the woman, I've been hurling things at the telly for years whenever she comes on acting like an ickle girly lisping and putting her hair behind her ears like she's bloody Pollyanna - Grow Up Woman you are not 7, stop acting like you are!! arghhh

Just my opinion!

Terrible to put yourself before your child like this. Can't believe she's done it when he's asked her not to.

She comes across as very self rightous and self centred and I pity her kids I really do.

bagsforlife Fri 06-Mar-09 09:44:16

Alexander Chancellor in the Guardian today has something to say about it too (can't seem to be able to do a link).

Judy1234 Fri 06-Mar-09 10:12:39

Up to about 13 parents decide the publicity children have. After that the child should have some way. I always get permission from the children for everything. They were in the papers the other week but had consented to that. they ven impose restrictions and conditions on who gets to see family photos within the extended family. That's right.

Ponders Fri 06-Mar-09 10:22:45

She is the Living with Teenagers one, isn't she?

"People need to know this happens to families like ours. We were very smug, we loved having young children and as they got older we thought we were going to be very good parents of teenagers," said Myerson

The reason she stopped writing that ghastly column was that her kids finally found out it was about them & were furious. You'd think she would have learned something from that hmm

AitchTwoOh Fri 06-Mar-09 10:26:37

is that true, ponders? do you know that from a reliable source? it would make sense.

Ponders Fri 06-Mar-09 10:27:37

The A Chancellor piece

He's not keen on the idea either.

Ponders Fri 06-Mar-09 10:29:14

Oh yes aitch, the mother wrote a final column & he wrote one too - it was discussed on here at the time, will see if I can find it.

(NB It's not 100% certain that they are the family but everything fits)

unavailable Fri 06-Mar-09 10:31:13

There has been quite alot about the family in the press lately, because of this book. I find it surprising that I have not read that Julie is the Living with Teenagers author (or even hinted at) apart from on mumsnet! Where did other people hear it?

Ponders Fri 06-Mar-09 10:35:16
Ponders Fri 06-Mar-09 10:37:48

Oh, it wasn't "Eddie" who wrote the reply, it was "Jack", the younger one.

Smee Fri 06-Mar-09 10:37:50

Whatever the truth of the past, the son's now working and relatively sorted - bit of a result for him and something they should be relieved about and probably are. So you'd think they'd gently be trying to build bridges, not trash their relationship further by publishing against his wishes. Poor him, and poor younger siblings too.

ipanemagirl Fri 06-Mar-09 10:46:09

I think it's wrong to expose your children in any way in the press, parents should protect their children's privacy not exploit it. Even for charity imho (ref Brangelina....)
If people like Ewan Macgregor can pull it off why not others. And it's no excuse the argument Myerson makes about wanting others to know how hard it is etc etc. It's just narcissism, he reflects badly on her so he has to be rejected. It seems fairly fair weather parenting to me. But I haven't actually been in that position so I can't judge but it just seems so typical of her Pollyanna persona!

Judy1234 Fri 06-Mar-09 16:16:40

It isn't always wrong and indeed I think some parents woudl keep their children wrongly being taken away by social workers if they were able to use the press more.

in a case like this one you need the teenager's consent

dittany Fri 06-Mar-09 23:39:22
glasjam Sat 07-Mar-09 00:01:13

unavailable - I think I might have mooted that it was Julie Myerson who was the author of Living with Teenagers some time last year. I had just read "Home" by JM and was struck by the similarities in the family make-up and the dialogue with her kids in the book. It HASN'T been confirmed and perhaps quite rightly I was admonished for suggesting it was her without evidence. If it IS her there must be a hell of a lot of newspaper editors and publishers out there protecting her identity - quite an impressive closed-shop I think.

I am not denying that a book about dealing with your own child's drug addiction could be a helpful thing to read if you were going through the same thing yourself - BUT suspecting the LWT connection just makes me feel queasy. I don't think any of us would be sitting here in judgement of any mother who's child was going through these problems - more like "there but for the grace of God" - but the wholesale exposure of your own intimate, family traumas in order to earn your bread and butter as an author is quite another thing.

And I realise now that I should have put this post in Adult NON-fiction!

cherryblossoms Sat 07-Mar-09 00:02:47

dittany - that is just grim.

LoisGriffin Sat 07-Mar-09 00:08:11

The thing that makes me think it's not in LWT is that she lives in South London and the LWT family clearly lived in North (Muswell Hill if I was reading it right).
OR I could have that completely wrong
OR it's a red herring.
Either way all very uncomfortable for the kids.

glasjam Sat 07-Mar-09 00:45:14

Christ I just read that link dittany - really, really sad - this paragraph is persuasive with regard to JM being behind the LWT column:

"For Jake, whose whole life has been charted by his mother over the years in various deeply personal newspaper columns and articles, having his own 'trauma' held up for public consumption without his consent was a step too far"

I would imagine he wouldn't want to be responsible for exposing his siblings to the glare of publicity if that was indeed the case. LoisGriffin - I think the location in London would be a redherring - an attempt to get people off the scent perhaps? Middle-Class,North London Liberal family is so much more instantly readable as a construct for a column I think.

tigerdriver Sat 07-Mar-09 01:08:00

well for years I am afraid that she has been for me the epitome of "silly cow".

I would hate to think that I would ever write about my child in this way, whether in sorrow or in anger.

londonartemis Sat 07-Mar-09 08:06:54

Her family are all over the Saturday papers today - husband in Guardian and son in the Mail....talk about washing linen.

EffiePerine Sat 07-Mar-09 10:27:37

good lord

how could she (and her husband) have though this was ok?

lljkk Sat 07-Mar-09 11:14:24

They were sniggering about it on the Today Programme, too.
Very British reactions (the sniggering AND tut-tutting at the laundry-airing in the first place).

I ADORED Living with Teenagers, I used to buy the Guardian just to read it.
Some of the bare facts of the Jake's dance with drugs doesn't fit with things that the LwT writer has said.

It would depress me if it were true that LwT writer and JM were same person.
Mind, I have siblings with terrible drug problems, writing is therapeutic, I can understand dealing with it as JM has done.

dittany Sat 07-Mar-09 12:38:23

The tragic thing is that by disowning her son, Julie has done the exact same thing that her dad did to her in her late teens when he cut her off and refused to have anything to do with her. She's repeating her own history with her child.

Rather than writing a book about it, which seems to be more about distancing and justification than healing and gaining insight, maybe she should book herself into some (good) therapy and sort out the issues from her childhood which are impinging on her family now.

edam Sat 07-Mar-09 12:56:09

Mail article is very depressing. Notice they've taken out all the reader comments at the end. Wonder if they were all condemning Myerson?

Swank Sat 07-Mar-09 13:05:26

Dittany, I completely agree. This situation does strike me as one where a therapeutic approach would have been much more productive than a public laundry-airing.

Always sad to see a destructive cycle repeating needlessly.

dittany Sat 07-Mar-09 13:06:28

Apparently Bloomsbury are rushing out the publication of this new book because of the media storm surrounding it.

bagsforlife Sat 07-Mar-09 13:08:55

There's an excerpt from the actual book in the Telegraph too.

Had to laugh at the Mail who just had to bring in 'Nu-Labour' as though THAT's the reason for it all.

I would think the majority of the Mail readers are all for the throwing out, rather than the other way round.

Personally, I think JM and her husband ought to take a good long look at their behaviour in all this rather than their child's, and he was a CHILD when all this started. Children do not turn overnight into a drug addled teen without something troubling them.

winnie09 Sat 07-Mar-09 13:09:54

I haven't read the article yet (although I do have the Guardian on at Saturday) and will. My gut instinct is that it is really easy to judge if you haven't been there. I have a dd who having been an angelic child unravelled between 14 & 15 (following big life changing events beyond our control) and I spent several years dealing with & endeavouring to support her & get her help whilst trying to protect my son and endeavouring to keep the family together & functioning, whilst trying to make a living and deal with a marriage break up. It felt like everyone had/has an opinion on how life got to that point, who was to blame and what I should and shouldn't have done to deal with dd's behaviour. I will probably read this book because although we have come out the otherside of it all, whilst in the mist of it I was desperate to know I was not the only parent dealing with such things. And quite frankly I imagine writing about it is rather cathartic & helps make sense of things. I feel like my dd, my ds and myself have been through hell in the last few years and I thought about how much more I could take and when would enough be enough, especially in terms of trying to protect ds. Maybe I will come back to this thread when I've read the book.

popmum Sat 07-Mar-09 13:30:01

I've not really followed this story but just read this in torygraph and its interesting toread on here some other perspectives on the mother.

The thing is, there is a weird demand for 'authenticity' in writing these days which leads to fuckups like this. If you want to respect the privacy of family in friends and fictionalise what you think is an important story, then some bastard will always dig out your real identity and blow it all over the tabloids. Look at the market for those horrendous misery memoirs: quite a few of them appear to be made up and it would have made more sense to publish them as novels - yet I suppose that would mean that the fuckwits who devour them would have to admit to themselves that they are just getting off on more and more detailed descriptions of other peope's suffering.

frogs Sat 07-Mar-09 13:41:10

I can understand getting to the point where you have no option but to tell your child he can't live at home any longer. What I think is utterly wrong is to publicise your family problems all over the national media for profit (yes I know it's therapeutic and might help other families, yadda yadda, but in the end you publish books to make money). That's the kind of thing that rips families apart even when the issues are 50 years old and stone cold dead. To do it while the problems are clearly still live and ongoing is grossly stupid.

And also a very unwise use of power -- effectively she's saying to her son, "I'm a published author, I can shout much more loudly than you can, so my version of the story is the one that stands." How could anybody, however innocuous your family story, not mind someone else writing and publishing their story?

Daft, deluded and completely self-absorbed.

edam Sat 07-Mar-09 13:48:35

Surprise surprise, both mother and son try to justify themselves.

I don't know where the truth is, somewhere in between presumably. But I do suspect her writing about it as fact, not fiction, probably doesn't help her son.

dittany Sat 07-Mar-09 13:50:55

"effectively she's saying to her son, "I'm a published author, I can shout much more loudly than you can, so my version of the story is the one that stands.""

Exactly frogs. Even with regards to publication of the book Julie Myerson was claiming that he'd agreed to it, when in fact he'd asked her not to but realised there wasn't anything he could do to stop her, but she gets to publicly rewrite even that small bit of history.

It was her husband who encouraged her to write the book interestingly enough. He seems to be the one person she doesn't write about although I imagine there is plenty of good copy from their relationship too.

motherinferior Sat 07-Mar-09 14:06:54

I am so thick. Never clocked she was the LWT writer, of course she is blush.

She's always written about that poor lad - his crush on the family dog (!), his first day at school (oh my poor little lad stumbling off, etc etc, pass the sick bag).

And it has repeatedly struck me, reading about her treatment of her son; I used to run the communications at one of the big charities dealing with homeless young people. Most had been thrown out of, rather than running away from, home. With no chance to return, to mess up (and I know he's messed up badly and other people have been very hurt) and/or get a second chance. But their parents tended not to be middle-class self-justifiers angry.

dustbuster Sat 07-Mar-09 14:15:06

For anyone who still doubts that JM wrote living with teenagers, compare and contrast:

http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/europe/amsterdam-julie-myerson-goes-it-alone-with-h er-son-raphael-512318.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2006/nov/04/familyandrelationsh ips.family3

(A LWT column selected at random.)

motherinferior Sat 07-Mar-09 14:21:26

I've just read that Torygraph extract and
(a) she's definitely LWT author
(b) she was VILE to that girl her son made pregnant.

dittany Sat 07-Mar-09 14:23:46

There's an article about it by Ian Jack in the Guardian. Some of the comments are quite interesting:


edam Sat 07-Mar-09 14:24:05

Wasn't she just. Poor kid.

JM is so woe is me ooh, we've got rid of my embryonic grandson - barely recognises it might have been ever-so-slightly traumatic for the poor girl.

dustbuster Sat 07-Mar-09 14:27:16

(c) it is misery porn of the worst order

lalalonglegs Sat 07-Mar-09 14:27:37

Just read the Telegraph piece and, never given it much thought before, but, yes, she is definitely LWT mother (and found the whole pregnancy episode horrific).

The one thing in her favour is that the extract was very powerfully written and compelling - but then it's great source material, I suppose. I'm not sure I condemn her out of hand for writing about Jake but it does make me feel uneasy. I feel sad for them all, it's a horrible and apparently irretrievable mess for everyone.

edam Sat 07-Mar-09 14:30:03

Notice how her husband resents their son being paid by newspapers for his side of the story? Hoist with their own petard.

dittany Sat 07-Mar-09 14:32:10

Now do you think we'll have people stomping on here complaining about press intrusion into people's private lives and demanding that anything to do with Julie Myerson be limited to just one thread? And how Mumsnet is going to the dogs because we talk about stuff like this?

Or is it OK because this is broadsheet hysteria and Julie Myerson is middle class and a literary author (Ian Jack is even on her side) with a screenwriter husband and her kids are called Jake, Chloe and Raphael?

beanieb Sat 07-Mar-09 14:33:08

"Their beloved son was falling further and further into the world of drugs - smoking the addictive and powerful form of cannabis known on the street as "skunk""

his response

"Basically, my parents are very naïve and got caught up in the whole US anti-drugs thing. There is a very big difference between smoking a spliff and being a drug addict," he told the London Evening Standard."

I think perhaps he is immature but an addict, no!

lalalonglegs Sat 07-Mar-09 14:40:43

I think he must have had quite serious drug issues for his parents to take the line they did - after all, they are pretty much prototype liberal lefties who, according to Jake in the Mail article, more or less expected their children to smoke weed etc. The paragraph about his refusing to get up even though the removal men wanted to move his bed sounded a bit dodgy. Whether he was an addict or not is (a) difficult to quantify (b)almost beside the point since, as far as they were concerned, his behaviour was unacceptable and he would not change it to accommodate the rest of the family.

bagsforlife Sat 07-Mar-09 14:54:44

Yes, I agree with lalalonglegs. I think he does have a problem. I am sure he became utterly obnoxious and horrible but the problem with some 'liberal lefties'(not my phrase) is that they do encourage their teens to 'experiment' etc at too young an age i.e 13/14 (usually projecting their lost youth on to them) but then they don't like it when it goes too far, as it obviously has done with Jake Myerson. And then they throw him out. Not very liberal at all.

SalLikesCoffee Sat 07-Mar-09 15:01:02

Whilst I can't help but feel disgust at the way they just cut their own son out of their lives, especially since another family thought he wasn't too horrible to give a room to in a house shared with their own dc, I am aware that it is easy to judge if you weren't in that situation yourself. So giving her the benefit of the (very strong) doubt on that one.

However,writing about this is a major mistake. If she really cared that much about sheltering her other children from the horrible world of drugs, surely she would, well, shelter them. Strange.

I feel really sorry for the youngest 2 children - everyone else partly shares the responsibility, even if not equally.

frogs Sat 07-Mar-09 15:12:15

Agree with bfl and lala here. I think also on the basis of the LWT column (and if she isn't the author she clearly so could be) the mother comes across as someone who has very much not put uncrossable boundaries in place early on -- all that swearing at the parents, for example, which I find really shocking, but which appeared to go pretty much unchecked. I guess if you don't get into the habit of drawing lines which must not be crossed (and taking v. strong action when they are) then you're relatively powerless if your teenager starts along the smoking cannabis route.

Ponders Sat 07-Mar-09 15:26:04

"And there’s one memorable dark winter’s morning when life suddenly feels good again, because he gets up on his own, gets dressed and comes down and eats an egg you’ve cooked."

Anybody else remember an egg column in LWT??? Anybody else think that the style of that whole JM piece in the Telegraph is very reminiscent of the LWT style???

unfitmother Sat 07-Mar-09 15:26:26

Even when trying not to judge her parenting or his behaviour; I'm horrified at her plastering his face across national newspapers. shock angry
She is vile!

bagsforlife Sat 07-Mar-09 15:35:08

These kinds of parents actively encourage their DCs to experiment, thinking it's a bit 'edgy' and cool. I've nothing against experimenting per se but they encourage their DCs as soon as they become teenagers.

Now my older DCs are older (22 and 20 and they were certainly no angels) I can quite honestly say that their contemporaries who were treated like this have ALL gone off the rails to a certain degree. Some have 'come back' but a significant minority haven't and have serious drug/drink problems. I feel so sorry for them. It is horrible to see it being played out in public. The Myersons have are learning their lesson the hard way and are now trying to protect their younger children. I have a younger child too and am very wary of him mixing with children whose parents are living out their teenage fantasies in their DCs.

charitygirl Sat 07-Mar-09 15:57:11

Lots of good points here I think, but having read that second Telegraph article I have sympathy for the Myersons as parents, although I still think publishing a book about is is a massive mistake.

My brother was very similar to Jake in many ways, and it broke my heart to watch him break my parents'.

When you are living with somone like that as a sibling it takes every inch of strength not to slap them into the next room every time they make your mum cry because of their own drug-warped paranoia, self-pity, and utter, utter lack of empathy.

My brother's a bit better now, but Jake sounds like he's still right there - he sounds insufferable. And now his mother has done something really stupid too. But still, I feel sorry for her.

I thought I read somewhere she was not going to be doing any interviews on this book prior to publication in May?
I think she must have decided on a course of attempted damage limitation after Jake turned her own weapon on her - exposure in the press.
Will Self is pretty appalled too.
I feel so sad for her son. She has served his turbulent teenage years up for tutting and handwringing in the most exploitative way possible.

winnie09 Sat 07-Mar-09 16:27:02

charitygirl, you are charitable because I don't see lots of good points being made here. One person has said she has read the book no one else has. This thread has made me feel physically sick because it has braught back to me the dark lonely place the judgement and finger pointing and blame that goes on when a child goes off the rails like this. I didn't chuck my daughter out, I gave her choices. In this situation most addicts think requests to curb unaceptable behaviour is irrational and insane. On several occasions dd made the choice to live temporarily on other peoples sofas and even in a squat with heroin addicts rather than live in my house and accept my rules. The consequences on a family is phenomenal. I wrote about it here in threads when I needed support and was going out of my mind... Reading the extract I cried because I know what she is talking about. Her and her husband had to choose between their children. I've been close to it. I don't know JM. I don't know her son. They will have different perpectives on the situation. Although my dd having come to the other side of it has apologised to me and also thanked me. I think this book could help other parents who are going through hell trying to support their children and feeling like they are failing madly. It does help to know it has happened to others.

The title of the book says it for me. The whole time dd was in her black place I felt I had lost my child.

I would not wish the experience on anyone. I never thought it could happen to me and my family. At 13/14 I had a great relationship with my dd. I would not have expected it to have happened to my child. Personally I feel there is a lot of smug judgement going on here

Habbibu Sat 07-Mar-09 16:27:29

Ponders - the egg story rang a bell with me too.

charitygirl Sat 07-Mar-09 16:39:21

Winnie09 - I know what you mean about judgment - I was going to write defensively that my parents are loving, supportive people who set firm boundaries, and who were not to blame for their son's choices.

But there isn't any need - I know the truth of my situation (and you know yours) - and other people wouldn't believe me anyway!

spicemonster Sat 07-Mar-09 16:56:50

winnie - I don't think most people on this thread are denying it must be dreadful to watch your child go to a dark place but that is an entirely separate issue to whether it's acceptable to profit from that. Write about it sure but don't publish, not without his consent. I do appreciate it must be helpful to know you're not alone but I think it's appalling. Do you think her and her son will ever come through the other side the way you and your daughter have? I think the likelihood of that happening now are slim in the extreme. It's like she's punishing him

DaisyMooSteiner Sat 07-Mar-09 17:23:57

Did anyone see the photo in the Telegraph of her spoon-feeding her son when he was a baby? If only she'd done BLW it might all have been different..... wink

dittany Sat 07-Mar-09 17:26:52

It's hard not to judge when she has plastered hers and her children's private lives all over the papers for everybody to read.

Just take a look at the first episode from Living with Teenagers:


Spicemonster is right that most of the judgement is about her publishing this book when her son, its topic, didn't want her too. She's been promoting it for quite some time in the press too. I can remember her talking about her son's drug problems months ago.

winnie09 Sat 07-Mar-09 17:32:33

spicemonster, imho there is a lot of finger pointing going on here which is not just about the book.

People write personal accounts of life events and have them published all of the time although sometimes anonymously. I can't read real life accounts of child abuse that hit the best seller lists (depite working in a field where I deal with families where child abuse goes on) & sometimes others challenge the truth of those published accounts. I understand why people may feel that JM is abusing her power as a mother but at what point does a teenager/young adult have to account for their actions? Frankly, from the small amount I've read since this thread started Jake is still in denial about his drug taking which is easy when one is surrounded by people doing exactly the same thing. It becomes normalised. I don't doubt JM and husband made mistakes, I did, and all parent do at some point but whilst I would be very uncomfortable having my daughter and our story exposed in this way, people close to us, people who matter to us, people in ds's school, people in our community including complete strangers all know about the situation.

I hope that Jake has moved on from his earlier behaviour. It is possible with cannabis to decrease use enough that one is still using it but it no longer runs ones life. I hope he has managed to sort his life out BUT he is refusing to take any responsibilty for his behaviour and that must be very difficult for the family to deal with. He seems quite media savvy and I wonder if he will actually come out of this with his own 'career' in the media spot light.

As for his relationship with his parents. I don't know whether the publication of this book will have made a bad situation worse, or not, BUT I do believe that bonds between parents & children, children & parents are incredibly resilient and I hope that the turmoil that seems to be created in the wake of the publication may actually bring them together in the long run. However, some relationships are so broken that such an action may be the final straw. I acknowledge that. I also think the reaction to the book must be having a huge impact on the other two children. Maybe I am niave but I am not sure she could have predicted the reality of the reaction.

winnie09 Sat 07-Mar-09 17:36:34

has it been established that she actually did write the Living with Teenagers column?

dittany Sat 07-Mar-09 17:42:42

By that token you could equally ask then when do adults and parents get held accountable for their actions Winnie? Why is Julie apparently beyond criticism but not Jake despite the fact that it was she who wrote the book about him and is making money and getting fame from it? She's probably a lot more well-known now since this media furore. They are bringing forward the publication date of the book just to cash in on the interest.

I hope Julie becomes a better mother and more insightful person and realises that family troubles do not get healed by turning them into a book for public consumption.

Funny how you decide that Jake the 20 year old is media savvy but Julie the 47 year old member of the literati, chatterati, TV pundit etc couldn't possibly have predicted how naming her son as a drug addict and writing a book about throwing him out of the house wouldn't attract at least some public attention.

dittany Sat 07-Mar-09 17:43:54

It's the same voice Winnie. If you don't think she did though I won't argue with you.

DrewPWiener Sat 07-Mar-09 17:45:25

did she write HOME?
the book
i liked that, and the kids were diddy in it.

she now is a wanker then?

lljkk Sat 07-Mar-09 17:56:24

I have a good memory for this type of trivia. And in LWT she says loads of things about Eddie at 18, about his A-levels being a damp squib, about him moving out to a squat and the parents having mixed feelings etc. I simply can't remember Eddie getting kicked out at age 17, or hitting his dad around the head, or getting a girl pregnant. Or being banished in general. Either she changed A LOT of details in LWT -- in which case both LWT and the new book may as well be labeled fiction, or it simply isn't the same family.

Also, the age gaps don't seem quite the same between JM and LWT teens.

DandyLioness Sat 07-Mar-09 18:10:22

It's funny that this media story came out this week, as the day before I knew about, I actually saw Julie Myerson and what I assumed was her son (must be her younger one) in my GP's surgery. I recognised her and I already knew she lived in my general area. Looking at the photos of her eldest son, it definitely is the younger one I saw her with - they look very similar.

Just thought you might be intersted to know that grin

DrewPWiener Sat 07-Mar-09 18:26:35

eDDIE WAS A cute toddler

god that is sad

lalalonglegs Sat 07-Mar-09 18:51:28

lljkk - I think just because she edited details of LWT (and, if she didn't write it, then she should be suing whoever did for plagiarising her style and tone) doesn't mean that it is a fiction. The names were changed, the location seems to have been changed and, when it started, it was meant to be typical Mr and Mrs Loving Parents and their savagely awful slacker kids whom we could identify with. If it got to the stage of heavy drug use/police visits/unplanned pregnancies I don't think the column could have survived, it just wouldn't have been normal enough.

beanorox Sat 07-Mar-09 19:13:39

I happen to know for a fact that she did write the LWT column. Cannot divulge how I know but take it from me that I do. She did.

spicemonster Sat 07-Mar-09 19:15:52

I agree winnie, there is a lot of people saying that she must have been a shit parent to have a child who uses drugs. And I know that's not true and I can completely see how you must be feeling rather attacked on this thread. For the record, I caused my parents quite a lot of worry with my drug use in my teens and I don't think that was anything to do with their parenting.

But I do have a question for you. You now have a good relationship with your daughter which I'm very pleased to hear. Do you think if you'd written and published a book about her drug abuse and the affect on your family at the time when she was still dealing with drugs, that would have happened? Because that's the issue I have. I feel like she's sacrificed her relationship with her son on the alter of public laundry washing.

Judy1234 Sat 07-Mar-09 19:19:02

A long extract is in today's Telegraph and it seemed to me that some (not all) of the thigns she and hre husband objected to are what normal teenagers are like - noisy music in the small hours, getting home late, cooking in the night. Most of us tolerate it rather than bar the children from the home. But I can see if what is said is true he was worse in some ways - stealing but was that because she left him without funds - and he did once hit her and trashing the house.

He writes

"However, Jake, who was thrown out of the family home by his parents over the schism, has condemned his mother for blackening his name in the forthcoming book.

The 20-year-old said: "What she has done has taken the very worst years of my life and cleverly blended it into a work of art, and that to me is obscene.

"I was only 17, I was a confused teenager, I was too young really to know who I was or what was happening.

"What she describes in her book are a series of incidents, it's not who I am and I find it very sad that she feels the need to tar me with the 'drug addict' brush.

"She's been writing about me since I was two, and, quite frankly, I'm not surprised by anything she does any more.

"She's a writer and like a lot of writers she is wrapped up in her own world - even if the worlds they are creating aren't quite true, they become true to them anyway, and I wasn't prepared to let her world colour mine any more." "

totalmisfit Sat 07-Mar-09 19:46:58

Speaking of the brother of someone who is now 25 and still acting like Jake (so into his music he can't hold down a proper job, but doesn't even try very hard at what he says he wants to do, perpetually stoned, immature, spoilt and middle class), i think JM did the right thing.

My parents have just gone on putting up with my brothers drugs, self-righteousness and refusal to grow up since he was 13, mainly because my father refuses to stand up to him, and 12 years down the line he's still living at home, still quitting every job he gets within a few weeks, still contributing nothing, and still managing to find money for drugs.

My mother has been through merry hell, and quite often found that the only person who knew what she was going through was JM in her column living with teenagers. If people don't write about these awful experiences then others who are going through similar will never know that anyone else understands. That's why we write at all, to share our experience of the human condition.

Jake is a grown man. He was a grown man at 17, old enough to leave school, get married with his parents consent, have sex, drive a car etc etc,why should his parents have put up with him any longer?

He's a spoilt, arrogant leech who needs to grow the fuck up. My dad is working class, worked full time from the age of 15, never asked his parents for a penny, got married at 18, had his own business by his late 20s and was a trained barrister by his mid 30s, all off his own back. This was all during difficult economic times of the 70s and early 80s. These priveledged wastrels have no bloody excuse and will live to regret it, if they aren't already.

willowthewispa Sat 07-Mar-09 19:53:14

What a horrible attitude totalmisfit hmm Even if her actions in throwing him out at 17 are justified, I don't see how anyone can justify serving up her son's worst times for public consumption.

totalmisfit Sat 07-Mar-09 20:03:07

ok, you're welcome to join my family, live with my brother for 6 months and then perhaps you'll be entitled to tell me my attitude is horrible.
If you haven't been through it you can't possibly understand. My attitude is one of a loving, sympathetic sister who has had all her patience worn out over the past 12 years.

As for JM, people put their lives into their art, and those lives and experiences necessarily involve others.

spicemonster Sat 07-Mar-09 20:12:59

Like I asked winnie totalmisfit - do you think there is any ever chance your family will heal itself if your parents write a book about what a shit your brother is?

And I'm sorry, there are plenty of groups supporting families of children with drug issues, you don't need to read a column to find 'people like uss

dittany Sat 07-Mar-09 20:16:29

Teenagers aren't adults at 17. There is a huge difference between a 17 year old and a 25 year old. A seventeen year old is still quite a vulnerable person.

I think the idea that there is only one choice between being a total doormat (which the LWT mother was) and disowning your child is the kind of black and white thinking that partly leads to this kind of family dysfunction.

Funnily enough the Myersons even told Jake that they were happy for him to take cannabis, but when he actually did they searched his room and called the police on him.

totalmisfit Sat 07-Mar-09 20:23:48

i wouldn't say there are plenty of groups. I looked into it when my brother was snorting cocaine in his room every day and there were a couple, but nothing my mum could get to as she's busy with our two much younger sisters, works, looks after her elderly parents and inlaws as well as her grandaughter on occasion, caught in the 'sandwich' of care you here so much about these days...

who knows if writing a book would help? Depends on the individual circumstances. i think the thing with my brother is that he was/is utterly shameless about it and never gave a stuff if family friends/police who picked him up/relatives knew what he was up to. i don't think their relationship could really get any worse, it's already hit rock bottom and bounced back up too many painful times.

totalmisfit Sat 07-Mar-09 20:29:40

I think it depends entirely on the 17 year old. All i know is, if you're old enough to defy your parents every wishes, stay out taking drugs all night, old enough to steal from them absolutely brazenly, then you should be prepared to take the consequences.

MadBadandDangerousToKnow Sat 07-Mar-09 20:31:58

I used to cringe at JM using her family as copy fodder when the children were very small and she was writing a weekly column in the Independent. It never occurred to me that she was the author of LWT but, when I read the rumour here, I had a teensy Google. I learnt that JM and the author of LTW have the same literary agent. I drew my own conclusions. You can draw yours!

Anyway, this book seems like the culmination of a gruesome trend started when the children were tiny.

Judy1234 Sat 07-Mar-09 20:33:17

Yes, I had a similar impression to dittany. Some controlling parents think they can impose their will on children and make them into something. Obviousyl some drug use is unlivable with etc but may be there are family dynamics issues which could be better addressed, that they look at their acceptance or otherwise of him for who he is.

Anyway how do we know as we weren't there. I woudl not let for example my younger children be sexually abused by a sibling and in the Myseron case she says her son was offering drugs to the younger ones who were stll 11- 13 I think. That's not acceptable. To protect the younger ones you may need to have the older one leave although a residential unit, a funded gap year or something of that kind might be better than just showing him the door and finding him a flat.

willowthewispa Sat 07-Mar-09 20:36:56

I think even if she did all the right things in dealing with his problems, protecting the younger children etc etc - writing about it was completely the wrong thing to do and unjustifiable.

totalmisfit Sat 07-Mar-09 20:49:40

but we all write about our children (and extended families/friends/Pita inlaws etc) That's what MN is for. We all share candid details of the lives of people we know with complete strangers, quite often to feel less alone or to preserve our own sanity... Of course there are the two key differences of anonymity and money, but the principle is the same.

I don't hold with the 'completely unjustifiable' stance either. If people read the book, find solace in it, if it helps them through difficult times, then some good has come from it.

edam Sat 07-Mar-09 20:51:51

She's made a career of writing about her children since they were toddlers. It's what she does - she probably doesn't even see the ethical objections now (or has been able to bypass them, in her own mind).

She's been effectively living off her children for decades. Now one of them is answering back, in print, and she really doesn't like it.

I know that writers write, same as photographers snap. But photographers don't necessarily publish every picture and I think in this case the writer should have thought more carefully about the wisdom of putting this work in the public domain.

spicemonster Sat 07-Mar-09 20:55:13

I'm sorry totalmisfit, I just don't buy that. The whole point of MN is that it is anonymous. And there is no one who has documented their children's lives and progress in the way that she does. And crucially, none of us are making a living out of it

jasper Sat 07-Mar-09 21:05:11

totalmisfit your own family experience is very interesting. I think your attitude is sensible and I am in agreement with you.

When you say you think JM did the right thing do you mean in kicking him out( I think she did) or in writing about it?( I think she was unwise) ?

jasper Sat 07-Mar-09 21:10:42

very active conv. I see you have answered already!

Ponders Sat 07-Mar-09 21:53:33

Xenia, "she says her son was offering drugs to the younger ones who were stll 11- 13 I think" - he denies that, doesn't he? (Or did I imagine it? I've read so many things by & about them today I'm confused)

Judy1234 Sat 07-Mar-09 22:08:31

He might well deny it. Presumably the younger children might be able to confirm it one way or another. I think it's unlikely he would do.

winnie09 Sat 07-Mar-09 22:50:46

Firstly, I didn't mean to imply that the son is media savvy and Mum is media niave. I think she has had years of being a journalist/writer and he has grown up in that environment and appears to be using the media too. I certainly don't think that any one of us isn't answerable for our own actions whether we are parents or not. I just wondered 'aloud' if she was being a bit niave not to have seen the reaction. It will be interesting to see how well the book sells because judging from this thread no one except me will be buying it on moral grounds.

I personally would not write publically about my experience with my dd if I/my daughter could be identified without my daughters consent. However, we got to a point where things turned around rather than continued. If they had continued I might have tried anything to get her to see the dangerous path she was on and the risks she was taking and the impact she was having on herself & the people who love her.

As for the idea that there are loads of support out there for parents and families that is rubbish ime. There is little in place for those with the problem, let alone the families & what there is, is often cosmetic and inaccessible especially where there are problems with cannabis. My professional life means I know what is available and how to access it and it was still a nightmare.

Dottoressa Sat 07-Mar-09 22:56:55

I stopped writing about my children when they started school, and have never written about them since. I would dearly love to write about them, but I don't think I have the right to do it. Whatever they do, their private lives are not for me to write about.

glasjam Sat 07-Mar-09 23:20:16

" happen to know for a fact that she did write the LWT column. Cannot divulge how I know but take it from me that I do. She did."

Intriguing Beanorx.

IF the above is true (and nothing but a public admittance from JM or her agent herself would totally prove this - v. unlikely) I wonder if JM is at all worried?? Because reading "The Lost Child" with the knowledge that she may be the author of LWT TOTALLY changes the way you experience the "truth" of that book. As a "one-off" cathartic expose of a family's struggle with a drug-taking son, it obviously raises enough hackles judging by this thread. But off the back of MANY years of writing about her children and earning her living from laying bare their teenage tantrums and misdemeanours (including the son who is the subject of The Lost Child)I think it leaves her in am extremely dodgy position.

What on earth would she have written about if he had done terribly well at school and gone off to Oxford??

jasper Sun 08-Mar-09 00:59:46

I am shocked at the link to the LWT article.

I don't know ANY families who have teenage kids who speak to their mother like that

ClaudiaSchiffer Sun 08-Mar-09 02:15:20

Jake sounds like a total pain in the arse to me. Typical spoiled bratty teenager. Vile, self-obsessed yuk yuk yuk.

Mind you I do think it's a BIG mistake of JM to go so public with her story. It does make for an interesting debate but it will be/is very destructive for her own relationship with her son. Which pretty much sounds destroyed.

ClaudiaSchiffer Sun 08-Mar-09 02:16:35

Actually, not typical teenager at all. He sounds particularly ghastly. Poor Myersons.

Judy1234 Sun 08-Mar-09 08:04:58

I went back to read that link. I have had three teenagers. They have sworn at me. They are now 20/22/24 - they are delightful. One now says she can't believe how she used to be. Teenagers obviously differ in how they are and why they are as they are and parents differ in what they will tolerate or not but I certainly didn't regard that description as different from how many teenagers are. You haev to think about them too - it is very hard to have all those raging hormones and it's such a difficult time. Many kill themselves. It can be the hardest time of their lives. I wonder how much love and tolerance and respect the Myersons have given theirs in what is really only a holding pattern you maintain for a few years after which they emerge great. If they are alienated in that period you haev lost them for a lifetime. If you do it right you have friends for life.

bagsforlife Sun 08-Mar-09 09:01:06

Agree he sounds ghastly, loathsome, hideous but he is still their child and this all started when he was 13.

They HAVE to look at themselves in all of this and wonder why he started taking drugs in the first place. I still maintain children do not turn into drug addicts overnight for absolutely no apparent reason, other than to be annoying to the parents. It must be absolutely heartbreaking to see your child self destruct (as they see it) but they have to take some responsibility for the way he has turned out.

Judy1234 Sun 08-Mar-09 09:46:28

She apparently took drugs for a start.

Secondly he says although they did show him the manuscript he then went to take legal advice (presumably that can be proved one way or the other) and was advised there wasn't much he could do but he made her take out the untruth (in his view) that he had sold drugs to his sibling. She says they made changes to keep him happy and gave him a small fee for his consent. He says that he sold drugs to a sibling was one of her fantasies.

She also sounds ghastly, loathsome and hideous. I feel sorry for her been so self absorbed and feel soory for all the kids having to have her as a mother.

FOr someone who is supposedly itelligent she does a very good job at coming across as a right dim fuckwit.

Ponders Sun 08-Mar-09 10:05:12

I think she would have preferred it if they'd stayed small & sweet & biddable instead of growing up & turning into people with minds of their own.

"The trouble with making babies is it turns you into a deluded fantasist. From the ecstatic seriousness of those first birth classes, through to those first steps, and the day those baby teeth come through, you are seduced into believing that life can, after all, be perfect. That it might just be possible to create a delectably unblemished person if you just throw enough love, passion, energy and time at them. And then teenagers come along to prove that whatever you do, it's not, you can't, you won't, it's out of your hands, mate."

Maybe she overdid the love, passion, energy & time & shortchanged them on respect.

Judy1234 Sun 08-Mar-09 10:14:17

They are very interesting issues. My mother was happy when we were under 10 but found teenagers very difficult and I've tried (not saying I've succeeded) to do it better. If you feel your children are something you control ( see the thread www.mumsnet.com/Talk/education/716638-What-academic-expectations-if-any-do-you-have-for-your ) it's very hard to cope with them being different from what you envisage as they become teenagers.

I am sure she can cope with the publicity and it does sound like if some of the events are true - son outside at 3am with hi fi on disturbing neighbours that that was very hard but I can't really get a feel for the truth of it. I used to let my teenage son have all his school friends round here for a night at 15 and 16 and I was pleased although it was noisy and they were up all night and they drank. I wanted them to be somewhere where they were safe and I was I impressed by their care of each other including when one was sick from the drink. I also liked how they were young and old, the contrast, and some hiding the drink they didn't finish because they didnt' really like the taste. Yes, having to put in ear plugs to get a night's sleep wasn't that much fun adn of course one worried about them but I think they were grateful for my tolerance. Even writing that I suppose on an anonymous basis arguably breaches their privacy rights but for me it's the right side of the line.

Lilymaid Sun 08-Mar-09 10:17:57

I saw Ms Myerson's latest article - in Saturday's Telegraph and thought it was appalling. Surely the time to write about these problems is later, when, hopefully, they have been resolved. What would be interesting and helpful for other parents is something written by the parents and the child after the problem has been resolved - not some money making alienating work such as she has written. Being a teenager is hard, being a teenager with a writer mother exploiting that child's problems must be intolerable.

violethill Sun 08-Mar-09 10:52:52

I agree with Xenia's posts.

The key thing for me is the quote that Ponders uses in her post. When we embark on parenthood, we are peddled this myth, that life can be perfect. It seems to me that JM and her partner's biggest mistake was to fall for the myth, to try to create a perfect idyll, which was then certain to collapse at some point.

Not that she should be vilified for that. I think it's extremely difficult to not be seduced into thinking that way. Look at the industry that has built up around having a baby - just walk into a baby/toddler goods shop or go on line. Watch the adverts on tv. Babies and young children are sweet, biddable and above all, marketable. Once kids hit puberty, they aren't. They are spotty, smelly, rude and stroppy.

In the vast majority of cases, they will come through it unscathed as Xenia points out. But it would be a whole lot easier if society was less judgmental and if teenagers were valued as much as tiny cute babies.

motherinferior Sun 08-Mar-09 11:13:10

The key thing for me is that she's effectively wrecked, I think, her relationship with her son.

I recently wrote a deeply personal piece for a mainstream magazine. I was asked to mention some other members of my family in it, and refused because I really don't want to put my sister on the line in public. And downplayed various things to do with my parents, because although we still have a very difficult relationship, I don't madly want to to castigate a couple of people in their 70s, in print.

The only things I've written about my kids have been sentimental and glowing grin.

Judy1234 Sun 08-Mar-09 11:33:26

We all make our own judgments about what we say about our children in print. I don't even like hearing women slagging off their husbands in public when they get together. It's disloyal and nasty although I can see that some of it regard it as therapeutic to do so. But what is done must be within the law. If he did agree here to the publication having taken his own legal advice, then that's done and legally he won't have any come back, although morally he might.

The idea that children will be perfect is a consumerist myth really. Obviously people like me are lucky to be able to buy good schools and the like but that isn't a solution to being able to make children what you want them to be. In fact I don't want mine to be particular things although it's easier to say to people you know for whom it matters that the child is doing something which those people you mix with and are related to would expect and is "successful2 in their terms. I remember defending my sister dropping out at one point (after she'd graduated thankfully) with the argument to my parents that isn't going to work 9/5 as much a cult, something you are conditioned to as being in a cult or whatever. Not that they weren't ultimately supportive but they were disappointed. In fact my father's advice when we were teenagers (and he wa a rather wise psychiatrist) was to pick work you enjoy and he relished working full time until he was 77. 25 years into my own work I enjoy it as much as when I started, more so and I hope in 25 years' time that is still so. I would like my children to find the same satisfaction in life and work. But ultimately what matters is your brain chemistry, your capacity for happiness, your avoidance of depression.

Habbibu Sun 08-Mar-09 13:54:55

"in what is really only a holding pattern you maintain for a few years after which they emerge great." Xenia, I think that may be a phrase I'll try to keep in my head when dd hits the teenage years - very sound thinking!

glasjam Sun 08-Mar-09 16:38:54

Wow - the Sunday papers are full of it. My Yahoo even had it as a headline FFS. This sounds cynical I know but the publicity for this forthcoming book is priceless. I wonder how long it is before she's on the This Morning sofa?

Judy1234 Sun 08-Mar-09 18:32:55

Yes, a pilot holding before landing trying to keep the child on track even if not progressing until the hormones calm down. All teenagers aren't as bad as others of course.

I assumed he went to a private school as his father is a barrister etc but he didn't. If he had would he have dropped out been in with the wrong crowd etc? Did they fail him by not paying for his education when perhaps they could afford to?

dittany Sun 08-Mar-09 18:37:48

I thought private school was the place to go these days if you wanted to get hold of drugs. grin He'd probably be on heroin now if he had been privately educated.

Julie's done an interview in the Times where she says she doesn't regret what she's done at all and cries herself to sleep about him once every two weeks. Keep on diggin' Julie.

violethill Sun 08-Mar-09 18:44:07

Gosh Xenia, after your last few insightful posts, that's a bit of an assumption to make!!

I totally do not agree that a parent who can afford private education is 'failing' their child if they choose not to take that route. Life is far more complex! I could afford to pay private for mine, but actually don't for all of them.

I thought the article mentioned how he got in with the 'rich Kensington crowd' anyway, and they were leading him astray - it's very naive to believe that private school kids don't do drugs!

It's absolutely impossible to ever say that a particular decision has led to (or not led to) a specific outcome. You could equally well ask the question if he had been to a fee paying school - it's pointless. Life is many shades of grey, not black and white. The chances are there are many factors that led to this situation - brain chemistry, personality, all the nuances of life that make people who they are.

spicemonster Sun 08-Mar-09 18:48:06

That's a ludicrous assumption for a sensible woman Xenia - I was privately educated and two of my classmates died of heroin overdoses and I was smoking cannabis by the time I was 14.

lljkk Sun 08-Mar-09 18:48:10

You all complain as though the children had no benefit from JM writing about them; but they did. Her income paid for all sorts of nice things (like the mortgage). Could she have earnt the same income for the same amount of effort writing about other things (or working in other ways)? I doubt it.

Jake sounds completely in denial about the impact of his drug habit.

motherinferior Sun 08-Mar-09 18:56:37

Er...she's a journalist. And a much more successful one than I am. And a novelist. I still stand by the argument that she has a wealth of other material at her disposal, not just tripe about how much her son was besotted with the family dog (an account to get any right-thinking teenager skinning up when recalling it a few years later).

morningpaper Sun 08-Mar-09 19:03:33

Gosh this is a very interesting thread

I agree that the author has made a ghastly error of judgement. Most of us do dumb immature things while we are young and probably go through phases where our parents would happily tar us with a brush of "drug-addict" or "slut" or "crazy" ... but you grow up, and it's private, and you learn. Where does her SON go now?

It was awfully naive of Myerson IMO. I feel sorry for all of them, but most of all her son.

DH and I have both managed to make perfectly good livings out of journalism without cashing in on our children. I think JM might have managed it too.
LOL at Xenia and the private school protective effect. It is widely acknowledged in my area that the private schools are the ones with the drug problems.

Mintyy Sun 08-Mar-09 19:10:48

Lol at Xenia. Amongst my friends who could afford to send their children to private school, the number one reason for prevarication is fear of the drugs issue.

(fwiw I believe drugs to be so easily available to any teenager these days that choice of school is immaterial from that particular pov)

DandyLioness Sun 08-Mar-09 19:11:07

I think it's arguable whether it was naive of her. After all, if she's the same person who wrote LWT (and it's pretty clear to me that she is), then you would have thought she'd have learnt something from her kids finding out she was writing about them after she'd been doing so for 2 years. Supposedly the column stopped for that reason.

She says that she is surprised by all the media interest, yet she has given interviews to several newspapers this week - doesn't have to do that. But then her publishers will want her to publicise her book, as will she - something she will well be aware of given she's published several books before this one.

Mintyy Sun 08-Mar-09 19:12:00

And crossed posts with LGP

morningpaper Sun 08-Mar-09 19:13:23

I think lots of people write about their children in a way that is FINE - and in a way that shows how incredibly FOND of their children they are. grin I'm thinking about people like Phil Hogan / Jon Ronson even Tim Dowling. (NB I obviously only read the Saturday Guardian) Their writing is sort of sweet and humourous and FOND. So I don't think it's wrong per se to write about your children, to an extent. But Myerson's writing always seemed to paint her children as inherently unlovable people who were hell-bent on destroying her. hmm

You'd have thought that her experience would be great for helping her fiction writing; exploring emotions and relationships and that sort of thing... but not just this crude regurgitation of things! ARGH!

dittany Sun 08-Mar-09 19:14:44

Posh kids are the only ones who can afford drugs after all. Handy things allowances and i-phones you can sell and then claim you got mugged.

If you look at the Living With Teenagers column it's pretty obvious that the younger son's constant loss of his belongings and money might have be because he was funding some kind of a habit. In it the writer actually says she found bags of grass in both son's pockets when she was washing their jeans.

dittany Sun 08-Mar-09 19:17:19

The Treasure column by Michelle Hanson I think it was in the Guardian a few years previously was a much pleasanter account by a mother of living with her teenage daughter. It didn't have the same horror show quality that Living With Teenagers did.

spicemonster Sun 08-Mar-09 19:17:30

She also has managed to write several novels so it's not like she's entirely incapable of using her imagination.

violethill Sun 08-Mar-09 19:18:40

I agree morningpaper. While any writer will draw on their own life experiences, there are far more subtle ways of doing it!!

CoteDAzur Sun 08-Mar-09 19:29:57

LOL at "posh kids are the only ones who can afford drugs after all"

Rich kids are the ones who can afford drinks. Most drugs are quite incredibly cheap.

Judy1234 Sun 08-Mar-09 19:41:18

True - but he was miserable at his state school so hung out with chidlren into drugs out of school. If he had gone to a decent private school he might not have been miserable at school.

But that's a side issue. They've certainly done what they can to alienate him. Teenagers hate this kind of attention. they couldn't have a better blueprint for future family alienation than this.

"He is the eldest child of acclaimed author Julie Myerson and her partner Jonathan - the couple have never married - an Oxford-educated screenwriter, journalist and magistrate. But home these days for Jake is a grotty shared flat in Camberwell, South London, where he struggles to pay the rent, let alone feed himself.

When he's desperate for money he takes to the streets and busks with his guitar. He can make £20 an hour on a good day.

'I'm down to my last penny,' says Jake, 20, who is studying at a music college in London. 'I have a student loan, but I owe money. I don't owe money to any crazy drug dealers. Not yet, anyway. Give me about a year.'

This last remark is delivered with a biting sarcasm. Last Sunday, Jake was outed as a drug addict by his own mother, who lays bare the 'traumatic' experience of losing her beloved first-born to cannabis in her forthcoming book, aptly titled The Lost Child. "

totalmisfit Sun 08-Mar-09 19:48:28

i actually never thought LWT was the kind of unsympathetic portrayal of her children some posters are claiming. I thought it was disarmingly honest and refreshing for it, but her resilient love and affection for her kids was always evident.

Just wondering whether anyone on here has actually read the book in question? Or just newspaper reviews/summaries?

violethill Sun 08-Mar-09 19:49:43

He could have been miserable at a private school too Xenia.

I would definitely look closely at the reasons why if a child of mine was miserable at school, and if they wanted to move to another school then I would listen seriously to their view. But as I said, life is far more complex. Some children (and IME exceptionally bright teenage boys perhaps more than other categories) find it really hard to fit into the structures of school anyway.

My overall feeling after reading Jake's piece is that he's arrogant and was no doubt a nightmare to live with, but he sounds as though he's getting on with his life, achieving academically. So he's obviously learned some self reliance!!

DandyLioness Sun 08-Mar-09 19:55:52

totalmisfit But the book hasn't been pulished for general consumption yet, has it? So no, I haven't read it.

Maybe I'm the one who's being naive, but I think it would be the rare teenage boy who, given the chance to give a solo interview to a national newspaper about THEMSELF, wouldn't come across as arrogant. Particularly one as articulate and clever as Jake obviously is.

But I don't doubt that he was a nightmare to live with.

dustbuster Sun 08-Mar-09 19:57:27

It is interesting that Jake comes across as articulate and clever to some people. To me, he comes across as a typical spoilt middle class kid.

spicemonster Sun 08-Mar-09 19:59:48

I think he's a bit of both dustbuster - not mutually exclusive surely?

dustbuster Sun 08-Mar-09 20:01:58

No, of course you are right! grin

bagsforlife Sun 08-Mar-09 20:06:05

Yes, I think to a certain extent he is a spoilt middle class kid. But whose fault is that????

I still feel sorry for him because he was a CHILD when all this started.

DandyLioness Sun 08-Mar-09 20:12:44

I agree with spice, he seems a bit of both, and when I said he was articulate, it certainly didn't mean I don't view him as spoilt too.

I also feel sorry for him. If he is trying to get his act together, this book and publicity isn't going to help. Particularly as his contemporaries are old enough to read about him in the paper. He's stuck with a stigma now. And also some noteriety, which may mean he attracts people who don't have his best interests at heart.

dustbuster Sun 08-Mar-09 20:17:16

Yes, I agree with you all, I do feel sorry for the spoilt little blighter too.

totalmisfit Sun 08-Mar-09 20:21:01

But notoriety isn't necessarily seen as a negative thing nowadays. During the brief time i had a facebook profile, i remember being quite surprised at the sheer amount of what i would have called embarassing personal information being freely posted all over peoples profiles, not to mention the photos etc, and the worst of it was people in their late teens and early 20s. They seem to live their lives a lot more publicly (at least in cyberspace) than my generation (who are only a few years older really) so i shouldn't think the contrast would be all that great.

dittany Sun 08-Mar-09 20:21:19

Living with Teenagers was a newspaper column for two years before it was turned into a book, totalmisfit.

totalmisfit Sun 08-Mar-09 20:24:22

yes, dittany, i read it avidly. why do you mention it?

Judy1234 Sun 08-Mar-09 20:24:38

He comes over really well to me and I pity the way his parents have treated him. May be he should write a book about living with his parents.

DandyLioness Sun 08-Mar-09 20:25:05

But there is a big difference between freely sharing information on Facebook and giving articles to national newspapers, as well as being written about by them and having these articles metioned on the radio!

I agree that noterity isn't necessarly seen as a bad thing by young people today (how old do I feel?), but that doesn't mean it's going to be good for him.

luckywinner Sun 08-Mar-09 20:25:58

I've read it - I was given a proof copy. But I had never read the LWT column or read any of her other things. I don't know if that has made me look at it differently but I just felt sadness when I read the book. I didn't really think about how she may be crossing the line by telling the story about her son.

Do you think if it hadn't been Julie Myerson who wrote it there wouldn't be such strong reactions to it?

I am fairly new to Mumsnet but she doesn't seem to be too pooular here!

unfitmother Sun 08-Mar-09 20:26:14

That would be the best revenge. grin

dittany Sun 08-Mar-09 20:28:08

I thought you meant the Living with Teenagers book Totalmisfit. This latest book hasn't been published yet so unless people have been given a proof copy like luckywinner was, nobody has had the chance to read it.

This was the episode in LWT that made me lose all sympathy with her:


theyoungvisiter Sun 08-Mar-09 20:28:08

I read the interviews about this with total disgust. In my opinion Myerson has done a completely unforgiveable thing to her son in 1) writing about him in this way and 2) explicitly using that fact to get publicity for her book!

Jake does come across as a spoilt, moody teenager even in his own account - but the key word in that is TEENAGER. It's a time in life when we make mistakes and we need to be allowed to learn from them and move on to become better people.

His mum has now effectively removed that chance from him - it's almost like she doesn't want him to be able to move on and resolve his problems - just as he's growing up and putting all this behind him, she does this.

morningpaper Sun 08-Mar-09 20:35:44

Dittany: urgh. So much wrong!

theyoungvisiter Sun 08-Mar-09 20:36:20

The thing about notoriety on facebook etc, is that it's completely different when you are in control of the information being disseminated.

Not only did Myerson broadcast deeply personal information about her son without his consent, she did it for money. Nice.

luckywinner Sun 08-Mar-09 20:36:53

Dittany, I read that thinking, is this what happens when your dc become teenagers?

Mine are only 3 and 2. Does it happen like that? Please someone tell me no.

I argued quite early on in the thread that loving your children is not enough to keep them from making mistakes, which is how I felt about JM's son in the book, but reading that column, I feel my sympathy drain away a little.

theyoungvisiter Sun 08-Mar-09 20:40:08

Dittany, that episode was horrible wasn't it? I felt deeply uncomfortable about LWT for some time before it was axed, and my sympathy was almost always with the kids even when they were allegedly behaving "outrageously".

dustbuster Sun 08-Mar-09 20:41:17

theyoungvisiter, this is going off on a bit of a tangent, but I think on Facebook you are in control of what you post, but people don't always have the maturity to realise what is and isn't appropriate. When I have seen Facebook pages of people in their late teens and early 20s I've been shocked at what they have put in the public domain, where it can be seen by parents, employers, teachers etc. E.g. young women with profile pics in their underwear etc.

Which I suppose just underlines the point that Jake M. is young and immature, but Julie M. really should know better. I completely agree with your post of 20:28. I'm afraid Julie M. just comes across as totally self-centred.

dustbuster Sun 08-Mar-09 20:43:11

With regard to LWT, I think this goes back to the spoilt middle class kid phenomenon. I meet a lot of young adults like this, and the problem often seems to be that they have never been given any boundaries, and have been repeatedly told by parents and teachers that they are fantastic and special, but without having to take much responsibility for anything. Unsurprisingly they struggle a bit when they are out in the world.

dittany Sun 08-Mar-09 20:44:40

I had a real problem that the parents accepted violence in the house and left it to the children to "sort it out" amongst themselves. I'm not sure how a teenage girl is supposed to sort it out when she is lying on the ground with her brother standing on her hair threatening to spit on her. Somewhere along the line the parents either lost sight of what was acceptable behaviour or worse, just couldn't be bothered to set boundaries.

I have to say I thought they were training their sons for domestic violence the way they allowed them to treat their sister.

And I'm going to be really sanctimonious here but it doesn't surprise me at all that the violence was finally turned on them. The whole of the LWT series read like a build up to something worse.

DandyLioness Sun 08-Mar-09 20:47:51

I agree, dittany. And to suggest that her daughter take the t-shirt off there and then, how humilitating for the girl. The fact that the mother loses it at her daughter but not her son ...

And that's the younger son, isn't it?

theyoungvisiter Sun 08-Mar-09 20:51:32

dustbuster I quite agree that people and teenagers have a naive attitude to facebook and the like, but this is in a different league.

If I saw pictures of a teenage girl in her underwear posted on facebook I would think "hmm, silly girl". If I saw the same pictures posted by her dad I would be horrified.

Not sure if this is any less humiliating and soul-destroying for the child involved.

As you say - all comes back to the fact that the parent should know better.

dustbuster Sun 08-Mar-09 20:55:33

Quite so, theyoungvisitor. One of the most yucky things in LWT was when she wrote about her younger son's pubic hair (or should that be public hair?) emerging, and how he had four pubic hairs. He wrote an article about how his friends were all reading it behind his back for ages, and when he found out about it his nickname in school was "four hairs". Poor poor sod.

frogs Sun 08-Mar-09 20:58:45

The thing that used to really shock me about the LWT column was the the level of physical and verbal confrontation going on in the house over really small things. The swearing and insults and fights were everyday fare (or at least that was how it came across) and the parents only ever seemed to come up with really feeble reactions.

If I came in and found a full-scale physical fight going on between dd1 and ds, I would categorically not be dicking around going, 'look darling, is it really worth it?'

The kids in LWT seemed to be very indulged and very under-demanded in terms of expectations of behaviour and maturity. The amount of time the author seemed to spend trying to please the kids while they appeared to treat the parents with complete contempt was scary. I actually couldn't read the column after a while, it wound me up so mch. Dd1 (nearly 14) was hooked on it, though. It was the first thing she'd read out of the saturday guardian, and would sit there muttering 'FGS woman, grow a spine'. Occasionally she'd say, 'Mum, get this' and read a bit out to me. Tbh that about summed up how weedy and immature the author came across.

muffle Sun 08-Mar-09 21:11:59

Ooh Dittany I just ready that LWT you linked to and it brought back how much I hated that column. Just appalling. She comes across as a real woman-hater in that piece, and as in every LWT, only concerned for herself and how awful it is for her, with not a thought for what her children might need from their parent.

If JM is the author, which it seems she may well be - I really think the whole drugs aspect of the current debacle is a red herring. Her appalling relationship with her son and his pretty bad behaviour towards her is far more likely a function of her massive narcissism, and the fact that she's brought them up with this enormous burden of emotional blackmail, so that whatever they do meets with her panic, her soul-searching, her tears - instead of an adult, consistent response. I'm not saying bringing up teenagers is easy and I admit I have no experience of doing it, but I do think she sounds like the type of mother to drive any normal teen to distraction, and make normal teen problems far worse.

Re the drugs themselves, I think a saner and calmer attitude could have avoided a whole lot of shit. She is crying "addict", calling the police and tearing her hair out over a cannabis habit? I smoked dope on and off from 16 to 28, and I also tried several other, more hardcore drugs on occasion. I'm not saying it was good, but it sure as hell was normal, and it certainly wasn't a life-ruining disaster. During that time I completed A-levels, did my degree at Oxford, got a great job which I still have, and settled down with the partner I still have. I gave up dope in the end because it wasn't doing much for me and I saw it as a thing for your teens/20s and not something I wanted to be doing when I was settled and starting a family. Around the same time I cut down on drinking as well, just grew up a bit. I know many, many other people who have followed a similar pattern. I know many more who still do drugs in their 30s and 40s.

I don't actually think drugs are a good thing, but they are a very common feature of our society and acting as if someone has gone right off the rails because they smoke dope is just silly, and I'm sure fuelled the fire of this fallout.

morningpaper Sun 08-Mar-09 21:13:44

agree Dittany / frogs / the young etc. etc. i.e. everyone

TheDullWitch Sun 08-Mar-09 21:15:57

Julie Myerson did NOT write Living With Teenagers.

Ponders Sun 08-Mar-09 21:20:31

By beanorox on Sat 07-Mar-09 19:13:39
I happen to know for a fact that she did write the LWT column. Cannot divulge how I know but take it from me that I do. She did.

By TheDullWitch on Sun 08-Mar-09 21:15:57
Julie Myerson did NOT write Living With Teenagers.


muffle Sun 08-Mar-09 21:20:55

Oh god dustbuster, it gets worse! I didn't see that one, it must have been after I too stopped reading LWT because despite the fascination with how awful it was, I couldn't bear it. How truly grim. If she could do that to him, I think LWT woman (JM if it is she) has actually got some kind of personality problem - not to be able to even care about the very worst kind of humiliation she could put her child through. Publicising private, intimate details about his sexual development at puberty for his peers to read - it is actually horrifying.

Just imagine if a male writer wrote that about his female child. He'd (rightly) be vilified by everyone.

dittany Sun 08-Mar-09 21:25:07

If it isn't her, it's her literary doppleganger as the styles are so similar, especially if you read her accounts of her family when they were very young children that are in the Independent's archives.

bagsforlife Sun 08-Mar-09 21:35:20

I have brought up teens. She and her husband have to take responsibility for the way her child has turned out. He started smoking dope/skunk whatever at 13 ffs. It is ridiculous. What the hell were her and husband doing when he was out doing this???? Writing her fool column for the Guardian and having 'me' time no doubt.

I am sorry for being so judgemental but i got severely told off at the very beginning of this thread for suggesting he was the product of his upbringing. Well, he certainly is. Teenagers don't have to be vile. They are certainly 'challenging' etc. Mine are certainly no angels and we have had many horrible times but you don't abandon them and you don't spend your whole time thinking about me, me ,me. It is pathetic, narcisstic and bloody stupid.

bagsforlife Sun 08-Mar-09 21:38:26

*narcisisstic I mean. Apologies for spelling. Am so cross and sick of this. No doubt she'll be on Richard and Judy or Breakfast tv tomorrow with Richard or whatever being 'understanding' tomorrow. Aaaaargh

Quattrocento Sun 08-Mar-09 21:41:14

What a ghastly thing to do to her son.

TiggyR Sun 08-Mar-09 22:08:14

Dittany, I've read all of this thread - it's utterly fascinating. I am not a Guardian reader so not familiar with LWT. Can I ask you why you 'lost sympathy' particularly with JM after the standing on the hair episode? I read the link BTW. I agree it makes uncomfortable reading but as the mother of a 16 and 14 year old I have to admit that off the top of my head I'm not sure how I would have dealt with the situation any better. Admittedly my children (for now at least) seem rather less obnoxious and self-absorbed than hers,(I am delighted to be able to say that, because generally I think they are a pain the arse and a complete disappointment wink) but just trying to diffuse things at all without any bloodshed is usually the aim, rather than to diffuse it in the perfect intelligent way, and to everyone's satisfaction. May I ask how old your children are? I'm genuinely interested to know whether the people who have been so critical of her have actually had experience of difficult teenagers or whether they are still imagining how they would react to similar situations come the time?

I have very mixed emotions about this whole thing, BTW, and I am on no-one's side. They both sound rather spoilt and self-important, TBH! I must admit I identified very much with her column where she talked of how, when they are toddlers you never really envisage losing control to quite the extent that you do, and so soon....or at least, you know it's inevitable but you somehow hope you will have been such an inspirational parent that you can afford to let go and yet never be disappointed or unduly challenged by your children's choices. And the column that centred around her conversation with 'Eddie' over clean underpants sounds pretty much like a typical day in my life. Though my children would NEVER swear at me quite so blatantly. I do the most of the swearing.blush

TiggyR Sun 08-Mar-09 22:14:24

Just want to add, it sounds as if I'm condoning/ignoring the violence between sinblings - I am absolutely not, just that in my experience it can take so long to work out who wound up who, and who first hit who, and who was being sanctimonious twit/drama queen/obnoxious bully that you can easily lose the will to live!

nkf Sun 08-Mar-09 22:17:58

I don't think she's an airhead and occasionally she writes a good(ish) book. But she is selfish in the way that writers can be and writing about her son shows that. He's hit back in interviews though. Says that his parents are insane.

expatinscotland Sun 08-Mar-09 22:20:05

At the end of the day, people will do anything for money.

TiggyR Sun 08-Mar-09 22:21:03

It's very sad the the whole thing has been hijacked/exploited to a level which they will find it very hard to come back from. We all say spiteful things in haste and anger but when it is documented it must be so much harder to withdraw/forget.

theyoungvisiter Sun 08-Mar-09 22:24:03

"By TiggyR on Sun 08-Mar-09 22:21:03
It's very sad the the whole thing has been hijacked/exploited to a level which they will find it very hard to come back from."

But SHE is the one who's done the documenting/exploiting - that's what's so bizarre. For once I don't think the press are one iota to blame for this. All they've done is enabled the son to tell his side of the story rather than just having to accept what's written about him in silence.

TiggyR Sun 08-Mar-09 22:28:24

I know, it's quite bizarre. I suppose with writers there is a fine balance between taking inspiration from what you know and being completely mercenary with your own family. It seems harmless enough to share your parental angst with the world (that's what we all do on here, no?) but she seems to have crossed too many boundaries and betrayed too many home truths. Her kids must feel like Truman in The Truman show

Judy1234 Sun 08-Mar-09 22:31:18

I don't like her patronising comments about his recent talking to the media either - saying things like he will be misquoted, doesn't know how to handle it etc. He might be better able to deal with the media than she is. Teenagers need parents who will be their champions, who they know will support them come what may. I am sure I was not a perfect parent with my 3 when they were teenagers and there isn't one right way to do it and what one parent will tolerate ( I mentioned my son and his friends getting drunk in our house above etc) others wouldn't but there is something about how she writes and describes it which makes me attribute more blame to the parents than I otherwise might have done.

bagsforlife Sun 08-Mar-09 22:39:23

TiggyR I have had teens, still have one. I have read the Living with Teenagers column. I know what it is like to live with teenagers. They can be horrible, obnoxious, all kinds of things but they are still your children, as I am sure you will agree.

I completely agree with Xenia's earlier posts. You have to see it through. They do come out of it.

When my children were younger, I too could not envisage them being like JM's son. I would have been completely on her side as far as the throwing out etc. BEFORE I had teens. As far as I am concerned, most teen behaviour is set well before they actually get to late teens. If you have a reasonable relationship with them, however horrible they are, you will get through it, because you still love them, despite their behaviour. His dope smoking started when he was very young, far too young to make informed choices as to whether it is a good thing or not. I neither condone nor condemn taking drugs, but he really should not have been in the position to start taking them at 13 or whatever. By the time he is 17 its too late to do anything about it I am afraid.

TiggyR Sun 08-Mar-09 22:48:46

He sounds frighteningly able to cope to me. shock. I do think he sounds like an arrogant pain in the arse, and completely in denial that he may have been behaving in a rather anti-social fashion, (which would be normal, let's face it.) The streets are littered with homeless teenagers who've been slung out by less intelligent, less educated less (supposedly) emotionally well-equipped parents than these, for similar misdemeanours. I think the shock is not he went off the rails but that we would expect a more intelligent response and a more reassuring outcome from people like that.

I must just say though, if his problem was really as bad as she says it was, all the drugs advisory family support agencies tend to advocate cutting addicts off, which forces them to face the reality of the situation on their own. They say that to offer them constant support is to facilitate their habit, keep them in denial and so continue/exacerbate the problem. Tough love.
It's a horrible choice.

TiggyR Sun 08-Mar-09 22:50:30

Sorry bagsforlife, my saying he seems able to cope, was in response to the previous post, not yours!

Judy1234 Sun 08-Mar-09 23:00:19

If it really was terrible then yes you cut them off otherwise they steal, take stuff from home, sell it, then if they're female sell their body etc.

At 13 he was unhappy at school apparently and she says hanging around with chidlren out of school from other schools. Why? Why didnt' she know where he was? I've had 13 year olds. They don't really have the chance to do that - you take them to school, you collect them or if they go on their own the school lets you know they aren't there. You tend to fix their friends, drive them to their friends at weekends, you become a weekend driver. 13 is pretty young to go off the rails.

What as a family they need to do now is try to keep up some contact. He has found himself a music course and taken out a studen loan. Perhaps they could offer to pay the fees direct to the institution which he then could not use for drugs assuming he takes them at all. He's still quite young and they are adults. They are the ones needing to make the peace offering.

bagsforlife Sun 08-Mar-09 23:08:08

Exactly Xenia. At 13 YOU as parents sort it out. He was obviously unhappy at school. This doesn't just happen overnight, going 'off the rails'. There are plenty of warning signs before it gets to the point of no return.

They have absconded responsibility and are now paying the price. It is very sad, and very, very distressing for all concerned.

TiggyR Sun 08-Mar-09 23:29:38

Agreed Xenia. Though perhaps living in central London as they do, and sending him the local state school there was little need to do the fetching and carrying if he could go places on foot, or tube. Hard to imagine for me as we live at least 10 miles down a country lane from anything my teenagers want to do, but I'm grateful for that as it means they don't go anywhere or get home again without my knowing about it, and being in reasonable control of the time and place. But I can imagine the battles if we lived somewhere where it was easy to just walk out of the door on a whim.

It sounds to me as though these children have been indulged as intellectual equals at too young an age, with few boundaries and they've been flailing around like unstaked saplings!

bagsforlife Sun 08-Mar-09 23:41:36

Yes, agree TiggyR.

Judy1234 Mon 09-Mar-09 06:59:12

Well that's another issue. It's ometimes self indulgent of parents to remain in central London and send their teenagers to the local state school. Schools are very different from in the rest of the country. Either you pay or move out is the usual middle class idea. But we can't kbow as we we're there. I just get an impression that they may be weren't that good with dealing with adolescents.

Judy1234 Mon 09-Mar-09 08:07:05

Ah Libby Purves in today's Times... "To throw him out physically yet reatin publishing rights in his troubles is disgusting"

She also makes the valid piont that the boy says his parents agreed to take out from the book the reference to him supplying drugs to his siblings which he says is untrue and that seems to have remained in the book excerpts which have been published so far.

frogs Mon 09-Mar-09 08:16:06

Yes, in central London children have more freedom to travel by themselves, and that is true for both state and private options. In fact the dc that go to private or selective state often have further to travel and don't get home till later.

But it's not really an issue if you're on top of what's going on for them -- dd1 is usually back by 4.45, 5 at the latest, and if she turns up significantly later than that I'm on the phone to her to find out where she is. That is relatively easy to pull off if you're working from home as the Myersons clearly were. If we had the kind of full-time jobs that kept both of us out of the house until much later, than I think we would have made some kind of alternative arrangement in place -- it's not much fun for a 12yo or even 14yo to come home and spend hours alone at home, and really an invitation to go off and spend time hanging out in places unknown with persons unknown doing gawd knows what.

And the notion that any sane parent who found a lump of cannabis in a CD case in their teenage child's room (as detailed in Sunday Times) would just put it back and say nothing -- well, words fail me, really. She doesn't say how old he was at the time, but clearly under 15. How on earth did she imagine it was going to pan out? hmm

bagsforlife Mon 09-Mar-09 08:29:11

Exactly Frogs.

Swank Mon 09-Mar-09 09:05:04

I saw her on the BBC this morning and was so unsurprised that her main concern was for how she was being portrayed in the tabloids.

I have to agree with Libby Purves on this one.

Swank Mon 09-Mar-09 09:07:32

My dh described her as querulous.

It must take a tremendous amount of self-absorption to be so surprised at the reception to this 'story'.

MadBadandDangerousToKnow Mon 09-Mar-09 09:40:11

I agree with frogs too.

An earlier post wondered whether the children in LWT had been treated as adults before it was sensible or appropriate to do so. Certainly, when JM was writing about her (then) tiny children in the Independent a decade ago, she seemed the archetype of the doting mother who watches her child felt-pen on your curtains and then observes proudly that Fenella has always been so gifted in the expressive arts.

With trepidation, I have to disagree with Xenia. Scanning the horizon here, I can say that paying or moving out is not the usual middle class idea in London. It's not rare, but it's not universal either and probably not even the majority view. Other options are making the best of it, by finding a school with a critical mass of middle class families, and its near-relative, paying a premium for a house near a decent school.

Judy1234 Mon 09-Mar-09 09:49:09

Yes, I agree with that and his problems in part came from being in a state school he wasnt happy with and hanging out with children more like him from private schools. My teenagers were in private schools with school days which went on to after 4, who would over 2 or 3 nights a week be going sport adn then get a late coach home here by about 6 and then do homework or did supervised homework at school. It's a very different life than just let out of school at 3 frmo a local state school with not much to do.

smugmumofboys Mon 09-Mar-09 09:55:20

Not sure that state school students have a monopoly on going off the rails. In my experience (and that of DH who used to work in one of the top private schools in the country in London), the private school children had access to so much more cash - and therefore drugs - than many of their state school counterparts. They were also just as unsupervised in as much as they had to make their own way home after school.

smugmumofboys Mon 09-Mar-09 09:57:10

Oh and I work in the state sector where there is just as wide a range of after school activities on and parental input.

I honestly think that you have a very skewed view of the state sector.

Xenia - will you stop with the idea that children in state schools have no extracurricular activities and nothing to do after school. It is so very untrue. My daughter's school which is a very bog-standard comprehensive has loads of after school activities, there are many different sports, an orchestra, several choirs, a science club, a surfing club - and lots of the year 10 and 11s do extra GCSEs after schools in things like astronomy as well as art and music. And they do have homework too - and the school does provide an afterschool homework club.
And I know a lot of state schools offer even more.
So will you stop it NOW please.

MadBadandDangerousToKnow Mon 09-Mar-09 10:02:14

So, is Xenia saying that it was the contaminating influence of public school boys and girls wot sent him off the rails??!!

smugmumofboys Mon 09-Mar-09 10:02:37

Exactly LadyG!

They do Lacrosse at the comp I teach at and they all get bussed in and straight home. If not, they get dropped off my their parents in mahoosive 4x4s with personalized number plates (this is Cheshire after all wink).

frogs Mon 09-Mar-09 10:09:09

this is so not a state/private school thing. This is about kids who are insufficiently occupied and don't have enough parental supervision, who are lacking in direction and in parents who actually talk to them and try to help them make sense of what's going on around them, so that they can make sensible choices about who they want to be and what they want to do.

I know quite a few from Westminster who fell into exactly this category. It's a parenting issue, not a school choice thing.

bagsforlife Mon 09-Mar-09 10:14:14

Absolutely. There are just as many privately educated teens who are just as bad. JM says in the excerpt from her book he got in with a load of rich kids from Kensington or something. He obviously was unhappy, but he probably would have been too at a private school, probably would have been even worse, rebelling against the 'toffs' and trying to be 'edgier' than them....God, doesn't bear thinking about.

It is a parenting issue. No question.

motherinferior Mon 09-Mar-09 10:19:21

The girls at our local comp - the one my daughters will probably go to - are madly busy all the time with everything from music to maths club.

DandyLioness Mon 09-Mar-09 10:19:24

I don't want to judge what sent him off the rails - we don't know everything, are making assumptions, although if she is the LWT mother she doesn't give a good impression of her ability to set boundaries. But what I will judge as a writer is the fact that she wrote about her own son like this, and at this point in time rather than 10 years down the line. I also judge her mock naivity that she didn't realise there would be this much press attention. Maybe for another writer there might not have been. But JM is a columnist, Newsnight pundit and an acclaimed author. She already had a place in the media before this.

cherryblossoms Mon 09-Mar-09 10:19:55

I think Xenia is referring to what the boy said in one of the interviews which is linked here, earlier in the thread.
(Though I'm quite sure she doesn't need me to say this!)

Honestly, the more I read about this in the paper, the more it makes me feel really, really sorry for the boy.

I try not to judge other people's parenting but, tbh, find it hard not to, when this story is so ubiquitously present in the papers. And I find myself agreeing that the children, it seems, were just given too much self-responsibility, far too young.

I had a lot of friends whose parents were counter-culturalists of the 60s and 70s. Listening to their stories I have sometimes wondered if (some) adults are squeamish about the "power" as parents they exercise over their children. They have an overly-negative view of the boundary-setting/enforcing aspect of parenting. This combined with a desire to foster "autonomy" in their children, leads to an abdication of some quite crucial aspects of the parent role.

Obviously, I have absolutely no idea if that was the case here. Though it is what I used to think when reading LWT, where the writer hogged the "poor little girl, protect me from nasty teenagers" role for herself. (I thought it was so weird I couldn't read it.)

I suppose it's just a general point that raises itself in my head as I come across this really awful, awful experience, yet again.

And I've now decided that writing about it, when she is in such a powerful position, is a kind of theft.

frogs Mon 09-Mar-09 10:46:22

MI -- in any school there will always be maths club refuseniks who prefer hanging around in the local parks drinking, snogging and smoking. That will be the case everywhere from Eton to Grub Street secondary modern. JM's problem is that she wasn't around or engaged enough to have much sense of what her son was up to, and try to influence it.

lalalonglegs Mon 09-Mar-09 11:58:46

I agree with DandyLioness that it's not so much that she wrote about her son or that they are very publicly bickering about what did/didn't happen - this goes on all the time, remember the Constance Briscoe law suit last year? - but that it was published when it was still so raw and the potential to turn the situation around was still there. If she had given it another five years, she could have returned to the material and asked herself whether it was still valid and whether there had been any closure: was Jake now reconciled to the family or had his life been blighted by his silly, adolescent mistakes? It does seem very cruel to brand him so publicly at this stage.

Could she have anticipated the fuss? Maybe not on this scale - certainly not the tabloids picking up on it. I will say that I think her writing is very good and that the extract in the Telegraph was very powerful. I'm really not convinced that a particular type of parenting leads to a particular problem: we have had people on this thread saying based on LWT, she didn't treat them as adults and others saying she gave them too much autonomy. I am sure if she had been an autocrat, then that would have been held against her as well. I have some sympathy with her because I have three small children with very similar age gaps and they are delectable and I don't entirely blame her for being sentimental about the early stuff.

Finally, can we please stop banging on about whether it is down to the sort of school Jake attended which is completely irrelevant. He went to a state school, Debra Bell who wrote a blog about her son's skunk use and throwing him out sent him to Dulwich College which is one of London's top private schools. It really is by the by.

womanonclaphamomnibus Mon 09-Mar-09 12:01:59

I am curious to know why no-one seems to have questioned whether Jake might in fact, not be a drug addict at all, but suffering from depression. I have read the book (skipped all the dreary Mary Yelloly stuff) and it appears that the Myersons did not seek medical help for Jake, they jumped to their own conclusions and then rushed off to addiction counsellors rather than the local GP. It is also clear that when Jake's problems began, the Myerson's relationship was going through a rocky patch, but Julie, who presents herself as someone who lays bare the truth, was not honest enough to reveal this, except in passing. That in itself is totally hypocritical, as clearly the warring parents were having an effect on their children. This book should never have been allowed to see the light of day. Pity Jake, pity the other two children. They are now all exposed to the full glare of the media - something even an experienced hack like Julie would find hard to manage. Where will this end?

TiggyR Mon 09-Mar-09 12:23:02

I agree lalalonglegs. I don't think drugs use is necessarily more or less prevalent among state school children. I am in a weird place in that I am struggling to feel any empathy for either of them! I do think he is probably in denial about how hideous he was to live with though. And I think she has created her own monsters through some misguided liberal parenting coupled with her own self-absorbtion. If the LWT columns linked in this thread are typical then all three of her children sound like hideous self-absorbed over-indulged pseudo-intellectual brats. Some of the dialogue from the children in the columns is particularly sneering and arrogant and affected, even by teenaged standards!

cherryblossoms Mon 09-Mar-09 12:37:13

lalalonglegs - re. commenting on JM's parenting. Yes, I really did wonder why i posted that. And i think that it was because this has been so "in my face"; I felt sort of "compelled", which is weird. And quite annoying, actually.

Publishing this sort of thing, ongoing, in real time, invites, by necessity, speculation, imo. In a sense the book is a presentation of the "private" into the "public" sphere and is an invitation to judgment. The stakes are high. It's emotive. It's actually a bit distressing, given that it's about children.

Opinion here (mn) seems fairly clear that publishing was a bad idea. That level of bad judgment re publishing, seems to open the terrain on speculation about other lacunae in the writing, or even in life self-awareness/awareness of others. Which can only be speculation, we have no direct experience of this "private" situation, yet the substance/essence of this book seems to draw, even suck that kind of response. Partly because it is so resolutely in the public domain.

When i thought about why I felt "compelled" it was very strange. I think I felt the need to redress some sort of "other side" and power imbalance. Which is strange. I'm surprised by how sorry I feel for JM's son - who i do not know and whose situation I don't know, either! That public/inviting judgement structure of the book seems to amplify the potential of this book to be a putting forward of one side, which only amplifies the "smaller voice" of the less powerful son.

If I'm honest, I am p* off that I am having this response sort of "pulled" out of me. Despite my best efforts at avoidance. (Note to self: turn page.) This is definitely the "dark side" of celebrity culture/"authenticity" porn. I'm officially opting out.

I do think, on the whole, this really, really was a bad idea for a book, for all the reasons listed here. Isn't it amazing that her editor/friends/literary agent/husband didn't suggest, gently, it might be a slightly mad, even destructive, thing to do?

Anyway, I've vented now. Sorry! Felt I just had to get it off my chest. I really am quite weirdly annoyed about this. I'm going to move away from the thread, turn the page and be jolly glad i can.

cherryblossoms Mon 09-Mar-09 12:48:21

Apologies twice over - that was really pompus, self-indulgent twaddle!

I'm just sitting here about to go out, so that was a bit introspective. (cringe).

Ponders Mon 09-Mar-09 13:05:42

"Publishing this sort of thing, ongoing, in real time, invites, by necessity, speculation, imo."

I've never seen so many perfectly justified commas in such a short sentence, cb grin

beanieb Mon 09-Mar-09 13:11:03

Is anyone going to call into Jeremy Vine? I hope her son does!

emkana Mon 09-Mar-09 13:13:03

Goodness me is there no stopping this woman? I find it despicable how much she is pushing herself forward in the media at the moment

viggoandjavier Mon 09-Mar-09 13:30:37

she clearly needs therapy, i feel sorry for her, for him and for the whole family to be honest. very fucked up.
she has no self-awareness at all which is why she is a terrible writer. how can you write about people if you don't understand yourself?

emkana Mon 09-Mar-09 13:31:46

She says it's not about the money, but then if that was true and she just wanted to help, she should give the money to drugs charity

frogs Mon 09-Mar-09 13:31:59

She's a good writer, actually -- have you read Sleepwalking? She writes amazingly well on childbirth and new babies. But is obviously not so good with RL older children.

emkana Mon 09-Mar-09 13:35:08

She is totally deluded.

2Eliza2 Mon 09-Mar-09 13:35:27

I agree that she's good.

viggoandjavier Mon 09-Mar-09 13:35:45

ok, have only read her novel laura blundy and part of Home - not a fan. i do feel sorry for her, has she realized what a mistake she has made?

lalalonglegs Mon 09-Mar-09 13:36:02

cherryblossoms - nothing I wrote was aimed at you particularly. I don't think you sounded at all pompous.

viggoandjavier - her children in LWT were always saying she needed therapy which I took, at the time, to be one of those sophisiticated but cruel things family members can do but, perhaps, they had a point... I really don't think she is a terrible writer at all - my problem is that she is very good and I want to keep reading what is deeply troubling and personal stuff. Many superb writers were complete emotional screw-ups.

Habbibu Mon 09-Mar-09 13:39:28

If she did write the LWT column, the distinct impression I got from that was that she liked them as (apparently very compliant!) toddlers, but a lot less afterwards - she seemed to have painted herself a perfect image of what parenthood would be like, and is unable to cope with the disappointment that it isn't. If that isn't setting yourself up to fail, I don't know what is.

As for the column dittany linked to - my mother would have torn strips off us, but I can't imagine her ever saying "it's embarrassing" - she has far more confidence than that. That said, if my mother had walked in and we'd been fighting, we'd have stopped Very Quickly - she has a Look that can turn you to stone. I'm attempting to cultivate one for myself.

southeastastra Mon 09-Mar-09 13:41:40

it's a complete over-reaction, especially all this tough love stuff.

the bit in the paper that did make me laugh, was her son seeing his parents cowering in the corner when he wanted to come in and his little brother laughing and passing a chocolate mousse and spoon through the cat flap grin.

thegreatescape Mon 09-Mar-09 13:41:48

feel very sorry for her son. She has documented his private life (at an age where maybe many of us did things we aren't proud of) and put it into the public arena. Imagine trying to get a job, make friends, relationships etc and always having to deal with this aspect of your life which you had NO choice in being made public. It is also from his mother's perspective so not even his own take on things. No doubt it will get really tiresome for him in coming years to have to constantly discuss/explain this.

motherinferior Mon 09-Mar-09 13:44:33

I'm afraid her journalism put me off reading any of her books. The stuff she wrote when they were small was so very 'I am fabulous. And slim. And a wonderful mother. With wonderful children. Who are slim. I have a fabulous husband*. Did I mention how fabulous I am, by the way?'

* or rather not husband but didn't she change her surname to his, weirdly? I mean, it's weird enough if you're marrying someone IMO (see threads passim) but without the excuse of committing matrimony, wtf?

I may be wrong on this, though. I often am.

viggoandjavier Mon 09-Mar-09 13:47:39

would like to look at the stuff she wrote about her small children, is is available online? were they written for the guardian?

MI the Daily Mail made a point of mentioning that the Myerson's were not married so I was wondering about the surname. I was sort of hoping they might be brother and sister committing the ultimate in cultural taboo-breaking, but I suppose deedpoll is more likely. Why though?

TheDullWitch Mon 09-Mar-09 13:49:02
DandyLioness Mon 09-Mar-09 13:49:19

Habbibu Ah, my father had A Look. I think I've inherited it which I'm quite proud of. It does really work on DD, but then she is 4. Maybe it will lose its magic powers over the next ten years ...

frogs Mon 09-Mar-09 13:50:31

Ah, you see MI I read Sleepwalking first and sort of bypassed her journalism. I think you can legitimately write about babies in a 'me' sort of way, and she did it very well. But clearly if you're still at it when they're bigger kids then there's trouble in the offing.

Have we resolved whether or not she wrote the LWT column? Neither of the posters who made such strong assertions in both directions have been back to explain, have they?

frogs Mon 09-Mar-09 13:52:04

DullWitch, agree re. Libby Purvis. Can't we just abolish the cabinet and put LP in charge of us all instead? I'd have so much more confidence in her than in Jacqui Smith or wossname Miliband.

MadBadandDangerousToKnow Mon 09-Mar-09 13:54:03


Motherinferior - I'm sure you are right about the name change. Unless they've done the deed very quietly - and one of the articles quoted early in this thread suggests they haven't - they are not married. I am happy for anyone to make any choice they like about the institution of marriage and whether they want to live in it, but I have never understood (and never will) why any woman who has rejected marriage would adopt one of the most patriarchal aspects of it by changing her name to that of her partner.

<<Runs for cover>>

Habbibu Mon 09-Mar-09 13:56:12

"Over and over again in published excerpts you hear a sense of outrage at the boy's escape from the pretty chrysalis of infancy - “We are moving house and he refuses to join in the excitement... our child who has always been so reliable... my little boy... the loss of my child." Yup - that's what I kept seeing, and Libby Purves also points out the vile quote about getting the son's girlfriend to the abortion clinic "before her mood changed". That's just fucking abhorrent, whatever your views on abortion.

motherinferior Mon 09-Mar-09 13:56:13

God yes, MBDK, me too. Most bizarre. I think they did it to prove their Bond of Lurve, while being oh so defiant of society's constraining norms in not getting married.

The fact nobody gives a flying fandango about unmarried parents these days has obviously passed this conformist couple by.

frogs Mon 09-Mar-09 13:59:12

MadBad and MI -- in fairness, I can understand why someone who has had a very difficult relationship with their family of origin might take the opportunity to change their name to that of their partner/husband.

I briefly considered doing it myself, to try and draw a line for myself, as it were. And then decided I could reinvent myself with my own name. I made jolly sure the dc had dh's name though.

Catkinsthecatinthehat Mon 09-Mar-09 14:00:20

Julie Myerson says that she wants her son to get his life back together. But how on earth can publicly labelling him a violent druggie help that? If he applies for a university place, the tutors will know about him. If he applies for a job, the employers will know about him. If he's walking down the street and a policeman recognises his picture, then he's going to get searched and hassled. He's already had the press at his door. Did she honestly think that her actions would do anything other than stigmatise him?

motherinferior Mon 09-Mar-09 14:01:14

Ah, I have Reclaimed Inferiority all for moi grin

But then I'd hate not to give my daughters an umlaut of their very own grin

frogs Mon 09-Mar-09 14:04:30

Yes, the own umlaut is a very valuable piece of heritage, 'twould be wrong to lose that. Shame it's not one of those diagonal ø things, that would be even better. And a nice diaresis would be good also. Though possibly not all together. grin

ahundredtimes Mon 09-Mar-09 14:07:31

Oh gawd. I just feel so very sorry for all of them. She was so misguided and it was such an ill-judged thing to do. And at the same time you can see why she did, because she's so used to living in that bubble, whereby what she thinks and what she feels is her livelihood, and part of what makes her tick is writing that down. And I can see why she then wasn't able to see beyond that as to what the consequences of it would be.

In a way, her inability to do that, and their decisions and naivety regarding the book, do make one think that they might be similar in their parenting, though we don't really know, so we probably shouldn't judge too harshly.

I do feel very sorry for all of them though, and all the children, it's just a car crash of bad decisions and selfish thinking, all round.

MadBadandDangerousToKnow Mon 09-Mar-09 14:08:06

That's a very fair point, frogs.

I think what boggles my mind is that taking your (unmarried) partner's name is the one thing above all else which makes it look as if you are married. Next time I'm at a party and am introduced to Jasper Bound-Bylove and Jemima Bound-Bylove I will, naturally, predictably and unimaginatively, assume that they are married.

I see that some people might have good reasons for taking a partner's name to signify a new chapter in their life but, for others, I do wonder whether it's more to do with lacking the courage of their convictions and actually being rather timid about not being married.

lalalonglegs Mon 09-Mar-09 14:27:12

To be fair, I think from (yet another) first person piece written by the Myersons, Jonathan refused to marry her because he had already been married and it all went wrong and, somehow, the logical conclusion for him to draw from that is that any marriage to any woman will be doomed. She was desperate to marry him so changed her name to match so she's not anti-marriage, he is.

MadBadandDangerousToKnow Mon 09-Mar-09 14:36:45

lala - Somehow I must have missed that one (I confess to reading a lot of her journalism, in a gawping at a car crash and making bets with myself about quite how self-obsessed one person can be sort of way). If you're suggesting that she changed her name to his in order to pretend (if only to herself) to be married, that's very sad on very many levels.

muffle Mon 09-Mar-09 14:37:10

Yikes. Everything that's coming up about her suggests that she really is the overgrown schoolgirl she also seems to want to present herself as physically.

Good piece by Purves who does get on my nerves on the radio, but wise words I thought.

lalalonglegs Mon 09-Mar-09 14:41:37

I am amazed (and slightly concerned) by the amount of trivia I have absorbed about the Myersons over the years. Just to strengthen my stalker credentials, you can read this about the name change...

MadBadandDangerousToKnow Mon 09-Mar-09 14:44:40

lala - Perhaps you and I need to step away from this thread now and go and do something more productive! grin

motherinferior Mon 09-Mar-09 14:45:25

oh god that is pathetic. I am forced to the conclusion that many splendid women (a) really really want to be married (b) are prepared to be rebranded in their husband's name, but frankly...

Fennel Mon 09-Mar-09 14:48:26

While it's utterly bizarre from a feminist or a legal perspective, it's surprisingly common for women to change their name to their partner's while not getting married.

I think it's usually when the women really would rather be married but the man isn't keen, it's a compromise. Sometimes they do it because they see it as cheaper than getting married "properly" but I don't think that would apply here.

lalalonglegs Mon 09-Mar-09 14:52:02

MBDTB - I can't blush

dittany Mon 09-Mar-09 14:53:29

It's probably because he wants to keep the house in Clapham and the holiday home in Suffolk when they split up.

theyoungvisiter Mon 09-Mar-09 14:56:08

LOVE the Libby Purves article, so, so true.

LOL however at the comment by "Bruce, France" underneath which sources all the problems to the fact that Myerson "played the father" and "failed to support her husband".

Yes, THAT'S where it all went wrong - these pesky feminists hogging the trousers again... tut.

edam Mon 09-Mar-09 15:01:02

I rather think she changed her name because it was Pike. Julie Pike doesn't really look brilliant on a dust jacket. Not for the chattering classes, at any rate.

theyoungvisiter Mon 09-Mar-09 15:02:59

yes, Julie Pike sounds more like the author of northern clogs and mining sagas, or tough misery memoirs set in London's "gritty" East End.

beanieb Mon 09-Mar-09 17:05:59

"Julie Myerson says that she wants her son to get his life back together. But how on earth can publicly labelling him a violent druggie help that? If he applies for a university place, the tutors will know about him. If he applies for a job, the employers will know about him. If he's walking down the street and a policeman recognises his picture, then he's going to get searched and hassled. He's already had the press at his door. Did she honestly think that her actions would do anything other than stigmatise him? "

we-e-e-e-ll.... most people who come into contact with him probably don't have teh wildly hysterical views about pot that his mother has, do to be fair I doubt if the tutors and employers would give that much of a stuff about a young man enjoying a few spliffs.

SixSpot Mon 09-Mar-09 17:20:30

oh i had never figured out the LWT thing but you are right, it could be her

edam Mon 09-Mar-09 17:30:47

depends on the job, Beanie. Not that Myerson major is an obvious candidate for the Met or anything, but he's entitled to go for any job he darn well likes without his mother's vitriol having spiked his chances.

you really think that all this boy has done is 'enjoy a few spliffs?'

he thumped his mother so hard round the head that he perforated her eardrum.

if all the problem was that he was 'enjoying a few spliffs'' then he would not have been behaving in the way that he was.

cannabis is a dangerous drug-the kind that is around nowadays anyway. there is a real connection between psychosis and schizophrenia and regular and prolonged use of the drug.

sehe was wriong to write abvout it maybe but she was not wrong to kick him out.he has behaved appallingly.

edam Mon 09-Mar-09 17:42:13

She says he thumped her but she's not exactly a reliable witness. Maybe he did, maybe he was an horrendous teenager but still doesn't excuse her offering up her version of the worst bits of his life for public consumption.

CoteDAzur Mon 09-Mar-09 17:45:06

Yes, there is a "connection" between cannabis and psychosis (i.e. a higher number of cannabis users turn out psychotic) but whether that connection is causation or correlation is debatable - possibly, people with psychotic tendencies like the effects of cannabis at higher numbers.

Besides, smoking weed hardly turns you into an aggressive mum-beater. If anything, quite the opposite - you tend to vegetate on the couch and watch crap tv for hours on end.

what exactly do we all do on here? we talk about the worst parts of our children's and husband's and parent's lives don't we?

and he has admitted that he was violent.

i am sorry but i find the vitriol being spouted about this woman so puzzling.
is it because she is middle class and has done well for herself?

if someone came on here nad posted that their child was smoking drugs all the time, had stopped going to school, was violent towards us, was stealing from us-what would the reaction be? would everyone say 'god stop being so crazy-all the lad is doing is enjoying a few spliffs'???

frogs Mon 09-Mar-09 17:47:37

MMJ -- some people do, but (a) it's anonymous (b) it isn't exactly the sunday papers and (c) we're not getting paid for it.

LoisGriffin Mon 09-Mar-09 17:49:56

There are plenty of jobs young Mr Myerson could do in which his notoriety is a bonus.
Expect him to turn up on some celebrity reality show...

theyoungvisiter Mon 09-Mar-09 17:50:24

"if someone came on here nad posted that their child was smoking drugs all the time, had stopped going to school, was violent towards us, was stealing from us-what would the reaction be? would everyone say 'god stop being so crazy-all the lad is doing is enjoying a few spliffs'???"

No, of course they wouldn't. But if the same person used their child's real name and posted copies of the thread to his friends, school and future employers then we would all say "good god woman what are you doing?"

Of course it's not wrong to talk about or even write about traumatic family situations - but selling your child's dirty laundry to the highest bidder is rasther different to an anon thread on mumsnet.

lljkk Mon 09-Mar-09 17:52:13

Thank you for that post, janitor.

I dabbled in drugs and my brothers became low life addicts.
Yet we came from a comfortable middle class background. My parents made lots of mistakes in how they raised us, but I definitely DON'T think it was their fault that my brothers became addicts. Much more complicated reasons for that.

All I can think is that I suspect JM has been no worse than an average parent. Maybe she could have done a lot better, but her son getting into drugs and becoming impossible to live with is something that could happen to anybody.

Writing the book about it all is different, I don't know what I think of that.

My only fear is that she did write LwT too, because I loved that column.

bagsforlife Mon 09-Mar-09 17:53:37

I think it has been generally agreed that he is/was a pretty horrendous teenager, as teenagers tend to be.

It's the mother's (and father's) reaction to his behaviour and the cause of him smoking dope from a very young age that most people have been discussing.

lljkk Mon 09-Mar-09 17:53:42

I also wonder if writing this book is exactly the right thing to do.
JM has thrown down the gauntlent to her son -- he has the chance to prove her wrong, now. Maybe that's exactly what he needs to stay on the straight 'n' narrow.

CoteDAzur Mon 09-Mar-09 18:01:53

It's all anonymous on MN.

Very big difference.

i was a grotty teenager. i drank to much at times, went out with unsuitable boys, stayed out past my curfew etc etc.

i never ever hit my mother, took illegal drugs in my parents home, stole from my parents,etc.I have never been evicted from a flat for anti-social behaviour,and i'll bet that most 'horrendous teenagers'haven't either.

i wish everyone would stop making out that he was just being a normal teenager.

And we don't get paid by a publisher either!

charitygirl Mon 09-Mar-09 18:10:10

'Besides, smoking weed hardly turns you into an aggressive mum-beater. If anything, quite the opposite - you tend to vegetate on the couch and watch crap tv for hours on end.'

With respect, this just isn't my experience of teenage boys and skunk - not weed, as some of you might remember it from your youth. Yes, it saps motivation and steals focus. But it absolutely goes with aggression, theft, and unbelievably anti-social behaviour if access to skunk (or whatever else the user wants) is threatened.

You really need tro live with a daily skunk user to believe its effects. Everything JM writes about it totally believable to me - no hyperbole to my ears.

justaboutindisguise Mon 09-Mar-09 18:21:28

I think the abortion quote sums the woman up. totally self-centred and unconcerned abuot the damage her actions will cause to others. That poor girl, to read that now. What if she HAD had second thoughts?

EffiePerine Mon 09-Mar-09 18:34:43

mmj makes a fair point about families and drug use - blaming the mother (however misguided she may be) for the son's drug addiction is unfair. Suuport for the families of addicts is pretty much non-existent and it's a grim situation to be in. Reminds me a bit of the doctors who blame anorexia on over-anxious mums...

I would bet - in fact I know - that the reaction is different if the family (esp the mother) isn't middle class.

Judy1234 Mon 09-Mar-09 18:42:54

The boy says that violent incident was 50/50 on both sides but who knows as we weren't there.

It's very sexist she changed her name to his and not vice versa.

So they live in sin, she took drugs in her past and she sent him to a state schools. If they were properly married, she'd never taken drugs and sent him to a private school would it have been different? is it all because neither of them earn much money so she has to try to make money via these books. If she had a decent career earning enough mnoey to pay school fees etc may be they wouldn't be in such a mess. Become a journalist at your peril. The money isn't very good.

But yes we weren't there and it could have been much worse than it seems.

The boy says his parents were getting on so very badly, dreadful rows etc at 12 his life was a misery. That may well be true.

bagsforlife Mon 09-Mar-09 18:44:18

I don't think he's a 'normal' teenager.

I think he's probably a very unhappy boy with a lot of underlying problems which are being masked by the agressive behaviour (which stems from the skunk taking). I feel sorry for him.

CoteDAzur Mon 09-Mar-09 18:45:16

I smoked skunk, so did many people I know.

None of us turned aggressive and we certainly didn't beat up our mums.

Skunk is more potent than regular cannabis but it's not that different.

edam Mon 09-Mar-09 18:49:22

you are right about one thing, Xenia, journalism is not terribly well-paid (although big name columnists don't do too badly). And Myerson's not exactly at the sharp end of journalism - doesn't actually have to do any research or conduct any interviews for her pieces. Or even tell the people she quotes that she's publishing their words...

charitygirl Mon 09-Mar-09 19:00:50

Well, I don't think this thread should turn into a discussion of skunk vs pot so I won't bang on!

But daily, heavy use is very different to casual smoking (which lots of us have done, and which a certain type of teenage boy seems incapable of doing!). And a fair few of us on this thread have lived (as siblings) with these users, and they are unbearable. As well as deeply troubled and deserving of pity of course. But they poison a home - that's the only way to describe it.

Most of our parents didn't throw them out of course, which was an act made up of half of the unconditional love of parents, and half of cowardice.

Downplaying what it must have been like to live with Jake means you've not lived with anyone like that, and as I said, from a middle class teenage boy....it sounds completely believable to me.

But I still think she shouldn't have published a book about it!

tattycoram Mon 09-Mar-09 19:12:08

At rather a tangent I was amazed to see Yasmin Alibhai Brown finding a way to use this whole saga to plug her forthcoming book. Staggering.

CoteDAzur Mon 09-Mar-09 19:21:46

What I was trying to say is: I don't doubt that he was a very difficult teenager. But I do doubt that these problems were caused by smoking spliffs.

It sounds like there were much more important issues in this family, which are far more likely to have caused the boy's violent outbreaks.

DandyLioness Mon 09-Mar-09 19:28:03

JM is on Front Row on Radio 4 at the moment. Mark Lawson is being quite sympathetic. The thing she says she hate is that the story has come out with the help of the Daily Mail's money hmm

dittany Mon 09-Mar-09 19:31:14

The story came out because she's written a book about it!!!! What's she like?

Thing is that'll be a dig at her son because the Daily Hate Mail is probably banned chez Myerson.

minxofmancunia Mon 09-Mar-09 19:34:49

I sure the formulation and development of his problems was multi-factorial BUT I'm afraid I disagree Cote D'Azur skunk is a horrible drug, I and all teh young peoples drugs workers I know hate it, violence ralated to mood swings, paranoia and psychosis is a reality. As is the behaviour of someone when they're denied access to it.

The young men I worked with on a secure unit and now in the community who pose a risk, I would say 70% of them have a pre-occupation if not an obsession with skunk and a rather boring, deluded narcissistic tendency to justify it's "medicinal" and "harmless" properties if I'm honest, the usual abdication of any personal responsibility that you hear with a lot of addicts, along with the lies, the deception etc.

I don't agree with her airing of her dirty laundry by any means, but please please do not minimise the effect of this problem on a family and wider society.

Celia2 Mon 09-Mar-09 19:37:59

There was an article in the Times detailing a family with a similar problem.

"Our son was an academic boy, sporty and ambitious, who we presumed would get through adolescence by going to a good school. He was at Dulwich College, South London, when he was first sold cannabis and as he became dependent on the stuff he changed from a boy with a sunny disposition to somebody who was a stranger to us. By his GCSE year he was truanting and smoking skunk, though we didn't realise what he was smoking or that it was so strong. "

This family found that paying for education didn't prevent their son having a problem as I am sure many other families have done.

minxofmancunia Mon 09-Mar-09 19:47:07

The paying for education bit further down in the thread is bollox Celia, I agree.

There's kids at manchester Grammar and Manchester High School for girls just as much if not more so than the local state schools.

They are able to afford better quality drugs after all.

minxofmancunia Mon 09-Mar-09 19:47:51

With this sort of problem that's meant to say

LadyG Mon 09-Mar-09 23:00:31

minx of mancunia-I do agree if you haven't been around someone (sibling in my case) with a serious cannabis habit it is difficult to imagine. You could be describing my brother. He has lived at home with my elderly parents for a number of years and has had had only one job from which he was sacked for violence against a co-worker. My parents will not throw him out. He has finally now started counselling/therapy and has quit smoking-who knows if it will last. He is much younger than me and i can really relate to J.M's feeling of 'where did that lovely little boy go?' OK so the woman is a bit annoying and fey but I don't think she deserves the vitriolic pieces especially by other journalists in the national press-many of whom recycle their lives for copy in a similar way.

Blu Mon 09-Mar-09 23:38:10

The school that Jake Myerson went to is a HIGHLY competitive selective state school. It's even in Tory borough wink

A short bus ride from their home.

But it's not far from Dulwich College, also in south London.

I think we have found the source of the problem. The thing that state schools and the Very expensive Dulwich College have in common.

South London.

And, for all those who smoked weed etc...was it skunk?

Nabster Tue 10-Mar-09 10:28:47

I have read interviews with her and her son and I think she has done the unforgivable tbh.

ipanemagirl Tue 10-Mar-09 10:35:55

Myerson comes across as rational and compassionate.
"I would never have published this book if I thought it would harm our relationship"
"Everything I've done has been out of love"
Ummm that's a bit disingenuous. She clearly wants to 'help' other parents by exposing her son in this way. However bad the situation I don't think this is justified.

Also if you see the Daily Mail today where JM's sister describes the family falling out with her father etc and over his will (JM was left out) JM's sister describes her as being moderately violent in throwing the sister out of the house.

IMO, this family has a lot of deeper issues, none of which are helped or healed by JM publishing this book and making out that the problem is elsewhere. She writes/speaks as if cannabis was the cause of all this trouble in her middle class paradise. If you read about JM's childhood, it looks to me like the trouble was there long before her son was born and he's just part of the bigger picture. She shouldn't just blame cannabis imo, that's a symptom not a cause ime.

Which school was it, Blu? Did it begin with G?

hupa Tue 10-Mar-09 10:46:46

Jonathan Myerson gives his take on events in the Guardian today.

ipanemagirl Tue 10-Mar-09 10:48:25

Not at ALL relevant but check out Jonathan M's drippy long hair!!!

ipanemagirl Tue 10-Mar-09 10:52:32

Just read this.

"This is cannabis" not in my experience, I think this is a family with old, dark issues that have not been dealt with and are just coming out in the next generation. It's no less painful but simply blaming the cannabis won't help them in the end.

abraid Tue 10-Mar-09 10:55:56

Blu is right. I have a son at private school, just about to become a teenager.

While there are lots of things the school can provide, I doubt that it or any other private school can offer much more reassurance than any of the state schools in the same town that drugs are not being traded by pupils, and that some pupils are not being hooked on skunk. It may not be happening on the premises but it will be happening.

You buy lots of things when you sign the termly cheques, but guaranteed lack of contact with drug-peddling teenagers isn't one of them.

morningpaper Tue 10-Mar-09 10:57:02
bagsforlife Tue 10-Mar-09 10:59:27

Agree with ipanemagirl about the deeper problems.

Also JM did say at one point, we agreed with him smoking dope as long as he didn't become addicted.

Well, how can you say that to a 14/15 year old!!!!! Who knows who is going to become addicted or not?? He might do, he might not. He cannot possibly make an informed decision like that.It's like giving a toddler a bar of chocolate and saying don't eat it all, you will feel sick.

I can see where they are coming from in the 'writing it down to help other people' stance but I seriously wonder whether it is to help themselves really come to terms with the fact that their son has turned out like he has, which is NOT all down to him but down to their parenting too.

I do sympathise with them. It must be an absolutely horrible, ghastly situation.. all kinds of things going on, denial from grandparents that he is 'addicted' etc. But in all these outpourings neither of them seem to have actually come to terms with the fact that THEY might have made some mistakes along the way (apart from the rather weak, we should have taken control earlier).

dittany Tue 10-Mar-09 11:02:21

She was on Front Row last night justifying herself and blaming everything on his drug habit. She did do it very nicely and articulately but she didn't come across well. She doesn't seem to be able to reflect on her and her husband's own behaviour and what it might mean.

julesrose Tue 10-Mar-09 11:03:35

If she was the author of LWT (and even if she wasn't Jake has said she's been writing about him since he was 2), then I am wondering what effect her public writings have had on his development - his personality, sense of self, and perhaps a latent paranoia that everyone knows all the horrible bits about him.
She has done an unforgivable thing and I am worried how the story will end.
It's not cannabis that does this to families, it's a whole bag of problematic relationship issues that run deep, and to just tip them into one child because they take drugs is hideous, cruel and can only cause more harm.

dittany Tue 10-Mar-09 11:03:52

I feel sorry for Jake in another way in that it must be excruciating to see your parents showing themselves up like this in such a public manner.

IwouldlovetoGeneGenie Tue 10-Mar-09 11:09:30

NOne of us have read this book - unless you're in the publishing industry and manage to get a proof. We don't know if she is the LWT Mum. OP just suspects that. her son was 18 when she threw him out and he had been violent towards her. Her other 2 children are younger. In other circs, people may well be applauding her stance against abuse. i'm going to read it when it comes out in paperback. i work with teenagers and I'd be interested. Skunk isn't like the kind of cannabis Clinton inhaled at college.

theyoungvisiter Tue 10-Mar-09 11:09:39

God yes, it puts uncool-tie-wearing-at-parents-evening, or painful-displays-of-your-baby-photos-to-first-boyfriend in another league, doesn't it?

ipanemagirl Tue 10-Mar-09 11:11:21

I really think the parents are avoiding the family's deeper problems by projecting it all on external causes.

It's simply deluded. They're justifying betraying the son's privacy by saying it's all the fault of cannabis. That is just so simplistic it is eye-watering! She makes no acknowledgement of the family group's issues. Given her own family's background she is remarkable defended against admitting her own issues.

abraid Tue 10-Mar-09 11:20:15

Not all drug addicts come from families with 'deep problems'. Many (and alcoholics too) are people with a genetic pre-disposition to be badly affected by addictive substances.

dittany Tue 10-Mar-09 11:24:03

Jonathan manages to be even worse than Julie -

"After twice returning to live at home and twice being asked to leave again, we have rescued him from sofa-surfing by underwriting the first month's rent on a flat."

They make him homeless and then he claims they are "rescuing" him from it (nice euphemism with sofa-surfing). Does he really not understand cause and effect?

"As he rummages through the scrappy boxes we brought back from the abandoned flat, I pick an argument and I pick it and I pick it and then I simply let go and am throwing a punch at him. Of course, I don't know how to punch someone. He easily knocks me away and we grapple meaninglessly for a few seconds. Inside I have three, four years of frustration wanting to blow."

So he attacked his son unprovoked yet the way Julie wrote it was Jake who was the violent one.

bagsforlife Tue 10-Mar-09 11:34:21

Abraid, that is true. The genetic predisposition usually goes back a few generations and therefore you are usually even more on the look out for addictive behaviour (may be that is why the Myersons are so concerned about it) and try to stop it before it starts at an early age.

Encouraging someone to try smoking dope 'as long as they don't get addicted' is just plain stupid IMO. It's just such a ridiculous statement to make. Completely non sensical, especially if there is a history of addictive behaviour in the family.

ipanemagirl Tue 10-Mar-09 11:34:39

abraid I can only speak from experience and in my experience substances tend to be abused most when there is something that is not being addressed by someone in the group.
I suppose there are a percentage of substance/drug/alcohol abusers who simply have a genetic disposition but ime there is usually more to it than just that, there's an emotional context which adds to the vulnerability of individuals. We all come from a very complex genetic/emotional background.
J Myerson's family (if you see her sister's artcle too) has dysfunction going on in it and it seems to me to be partly responsible for what's going on now. She clearly thinks it's just cannabis! I think that's far too simplistic. A situation this bad isn't going to be one thing, nor are addicts going to be only influenced by genetics, it's a whole complex picture of many factors imo and ime.

abraid Tue 10-Mar-09 11:47:48

I'm sure that if your family emotional life is chaotic you're more likely to become hooked. But were the Mysersons THAT emotionally disasterous?

More than many other families?

I don't know, perhaps I'm just feeling terribly sorry for all of them now. I look at my own son and wonder if things could slide so violently into the darkness for us and it makes me want to lock him up with his Stephanie Meyer books and his stuffed toy tiger in his bedroom until he's 30. ;)

But, of course, you can't.

chocolatedot Tue 10-Mar-09 11:47:51

My family has a genetic predisposition to addiction going back generations. My mother was one of four, two of whom were alcoholics. I am one of four and two of my siblings have been habitual drug users. Going back further and there is anecdotal evidence of a similar pattern.

We all had a very happy childhood and stable family life. Two of us became addicts and the other two have never smoked a cigarette, tried dope or drunk excessively.

dittany Tue 10-Mar-09 11:54:01

Behaviour patterns get passed through families just as genes do. It's simplistic to reduce all behaviour to genetics.

abraid Tue 10-Mar-09 11:55:04

V. interesting thread, btw. It is good to get the views of those working with addicts. Though I feel happier now we've moved away from criticising the Meyersons.

chocolatedot Tue 10-Mar-09 11:59:30

I'm not ascribing "all behaviour to genetics". The fact is though my mother and father never drank to excess, never smoked were happily married and our childhood was stable and happy. Two of my brothers became addicts and the other two of us didn't. It's hard to see how in our case "behaviour patterns had an influence" in terms of addiction.

dittany Tue 10-Mar-09 12:07:03

All addictive behaviour then.

It's still a simplistic claim. Families that experience addiction normally have a lot of issues within them, there is also a lot of denial going on too. Children in families have different experiences - you only have to read the Stately Homes thread here to realise that.

I don't understand why this thread is becoming about something else. If people want to talk about addiction in general terms why not start another thread? This one is about the Myerson family news story.

julesrose Tue 10-Mar-09 12:08:21

But is cannabis addictve in the medical sense? I didn't think it was - unlike alcohol, nicotine, heroin etc where you crave a fix as the concentration in your blood system decreases and if you are addicted and don't have that fix you experience physical withdrawal symptoms. Cannabis is often used by people with pychological problems as a means of blocking out unwanted feelings - a form of self-medicating. A symptom of the real problem as opposed to the cause.

chocolatedot Tue 10-Mar-09 12:15:59

Dittany, I'm not making any claim "simplistic" or otherwise. I'm simply relating my own experience in which it would seem that the addiction owed more to genetic factors than anything else given we had a very happy, stable childhood with no addictive behaviour in the household.

ipanemagirl Tue 10-Mar-09 12:22:17

I think the term 'addictive' is used as if it is a perfectly scientific word but of course it describes something that is particular in every case. Some generalisations can be made but each addiction is, strictly speaking, unique imo and ime.

I feel some sadness for this family's crisis but if you look at both parents' public statements and their son's and add it to her sister's in the daily mail today you get a pretty dysfunctional picture. A picture that, to my mind, describes a situation caused by far more than cannabis! It's a family crisis for sure. But all the parents are doing here is exposing the family when they should be protected their children's privacy and doing the much much harder work of addressing these issues in private.

It's not appropriate to write a book like this. It's a betrayal of the parental role. But it seems they are in such profound denial that they're justifying this huge spectacle. In a way the fuss they're making indicates how much suffering is going on and to what extent they're in flight from that. Just my opinion.

Blu Tue 10-Mar-09 12:28:35

LadyGlencoraP: yes!

DD would have started there in September if we hadn't moved house. I used to take the children to the playground opposite its back gate when they finished school (they were at the next door primary) and it was literally crawling with drug dealers from 3pm on, targeting the secondary school kids. I saw two armed police raids in the playground in the three months before we left.

Blu Tue 10-Mar-09 12:38:28


Though I am aware that secondary school children (of all sectors) are a target for the all-too-common drug dealers.

recluso Tue 10-Mar-09 12:40:02

Jonathan Myerson

Was this the real reason Jake got kicked out?

ipanemagirl Tue 10-Mar-09 12:44:22

parents with no boundaries re:privacy, it's all wrong for their kids.

woodenspoon2 Tue 10-Mar-09 12:52:59

Having a father with that hair would have driven me to drugs as a teen.

Blu Tue 10-Mar-09 13:10:47

I imagine Jonathon Myerson's dilemma and soul searching has been felt by millions and millions of parents of teenagers. MN posters have called the police and tried to get them to speak to weed-smoking sons, others have taken a 'let them get on with it and grow out of it' stance.

Bet many MN-ers would have a right pop if they were lobbying their local councillor about graf and then found that his sin was conducting his very own graf campaign - however worthy!

I was actually at that commission meeting that Jonathon Myerson describes. He struck me as a nice, caring, thoughtful man.

Sometimes parents make a really good fist of trying and just get it wrong. It's hard to know - especially with an eldest child, surely?

Can we not see the Myerson's family crisis as one that could be going on in any of our homes? It went wrong.....how can we analyse the possible, potential and multiple causes and assume with confidence that we would get it exactly right?

chocolatedot Tue 10-Mar-09 13:14:04

I agree with you Blu, excellent post. Whilst I would never in a million years publish anything about my family, I feel pretty uncomfortable that so many people seem to lay the blame for the son's addiction firmly at the parent's feet.

bettany Tue 10-Mar-09 13:14:26

Fascinating thread which I will have no chance of reading fully while baby asleep, but am a right in reading that an earlier poster (Blu I think) ascribes the source of the drugs problem to... South London?? Isn't this a bit of a generalisation? I thought drugs happened all over the country and in my experience are very prevalent in private schools.

Other than that I agree with Xenia's posts about needing to accept teenagers for who they are and weather the storm, although my own children are much younger than this thank goodness.

bettany Tue 10-Mar-09 13:19:50

Crossed post with Blu and very much agree with your recent post. It sounds like there is fault on both sides. For example, at one time Jonathan seemingly starting a fist fight with his own son and then another time Jake punching his mother in her ear.

I would be interested to hear the other siblings' views on everything as they would probably be the most reliable sources (but maybe they have had their fill of the media).

smallorange Tue 10-Mar-09 13:23:21

I think Xenia's point about seeing it through with teenagers is good too.

A relative of mine spent his teenage years smoking dope, drinking and lying in bed all day. He was a virtual recluse, obsessively playing computer games and verbally abusive to his mother and father. He is now 26 and still at home and still has a bit of a drink problem.

A year ago he was diagnosed with aspergers. His mother was tempted to throw him out a few years ago. thank God she didn't as he would never have coped.

abraid Tue 10-Mar-09 13:28:52

But what about the other children in the family?

motherinferior Tue 10-Mar-09 13:28:55

But much of that blame is because they have both - well, her mostly - been so SMUG and APPALLING in writing about the kids earlier. If my mum had written about my lurve for the family doggie when I was seven, I'd have been on smack not skunk by my teens.

Quite, MI.

woodenspoon2 Tue 10-Mar-09 13:41:35

You are all being far too reasonable. Mark my words, the key to all of this is in the father's hair.

motherinferior Tue 10-Mar-09 13:43:05

Also, Jonathan M's argument in today's Guardian is that this is a work of crusading, investigative journalism revealing the skunk epidemic, and that all opposition to it is founded on a misunderstanding of skunk and its effects.

Rubbish; it's a personal, individual account. Yes, I've only read extracts; but none of those extracts touch on the services, the knowledge and the specialist input that exists for dealing with young people with drug problems. (There is a support group but that seems to be about it.) And the opposition is, obviously, about the personal stuff again.

bagsforlife Tue 10-Mar-09 13:47:18

Just read that Jonathan Myerson link. Glad to see his son's graffiti was nice 'tasteful' graffiti, a cut above normal graffiti....

chocolatedot Tue 10-Mar-09 13:51:06

Well I agree that what they've done is utterly appalling in terms of breaching the privacy of their children. However, I really wouldn't want to blame them for their son's addiction (notwithstanding Pater's hair).

Grammaticus Tue 10-Mar-09 13:54:50

Thanks for the link mp - I had been wondering whether she was the LWT author (and I still think she is!).

Yes, Blu, I can see this as something that could be going on in our homes or those of our friends, but I still think the washing-of-dirty-laundry element is hideous. And if she really thinks that writing a book might help other people, as opposed to her other motivations (self justification? money?), why doesn't she wait a while before publishing? She doesn't have to publish it now, before the story is finished, does she, she could leave it 5 years and see if her son has turned his life around by then.

The book and the publicity around it are both harmful, IMO.

Maybe he could SMOKE Pater's hair.

DandyLioness Tue 10-Mar-09 14:08:53

As I said before, I'm personally not judging what caused Jake Myerson's drug addiction (or alleged drug addiction), just judging what the Myersons have written about it and why they did so.

In his article today, Jonathan M reiterates Julie's claim that if Jake had said no way, don't publish, she of course wouldn't have done. This is the same Jake that they claim is drug addicted and has been ruined by skunk and isn't himself and because of that, they had to throw him out, and that he's still taking skunk. So they think skunk has impaired his judgment and ability to communicate rationally and reasonably (fair enough), yet when that judgment suits them - i.e. not telling them not to publish - they take it at face value? hmm

Catkinsthecatinthehat Tue 10-Mar-09 14:43:01


That's exactly the question Jeremy Paxman put to her on Newsnight last night - if Jake was addled with drugs, then how on earth could he give informed consent to the book?

He kept asking what benefit she thought her son would derive from the publication.She tried the 'but you haven't read my book' tack - but he had. Then when he put to her that Jake had not given consent she went into "I'm not calling him a liar, but he's a liar" mode.

Very oddly, I don't think she referred to Jake by name throughout the entire interview, just kept saying "my boy" which sounded really artificial.

Watch it on Iplayer.

morningpaper Tue 10-Mar-09 14:53:15

oh goodness she is TERRIBLE on newsnight

just AWFUL

they really should have just said NOTHING

Blu Tue 10-Mar-09 14:53:58

Bettany - re South London. I wasn't serious. OBVIOUSLY S Lond is not the main cause of either drug use or Was an observation on the way facts are being (spuriously) stacked up to prove a cause for smoking weed and family breakdown.