Help for my children(16 Posts)
I wonder if you can offer me any advice.
My Sons aged 17 and 14 now lost their Dad 18 months ago. He went to work and died suddenly of an aneurysm. It has been an extremely difficult time for us all.
When this happened my boys had an understanding head teacher. Who was very supportive and the boys did go to School a majority of the time.
However since June this year a new Head has taken over. Within a few weeks I was called in for an attendance meeting with the local authority attendance officer which devastated me and caused so much stress I broke down and had to see the GP. The attendance officer was understanding and didn't know why the School had put me through so much stress.
In the start of the new School year my Sons settled back to School life even though my Boys had expressed to their teachers they don't feel supported at the School.
At the end of September my parents sent a letter in on my behalf as for the October half term and for the week before we were all going to our last family holiday place before my Husband died. It was an extremely hard decision to make but with professional help it was one that we needed to do as we are all blocking things out of our head. The Head master phoned me at home and said he won't be granting permission as I am not thinking of the welfare of my Boys. I said that I am and that's why it is important we do it. He then said my Boys would be worse off when they come back and I need a to seek help for them a.
This is a Head Teacher who also told me and my Boys that it is a life event that their Dad died and it's something they just have to live with. Which I think he is awful in saying these things.
My Boys have enough to deal with with the loss of their Dad and trying to cope each day. Their Dad died of a hereditary condition and the Boys have to be tested every three years.
Please can you offer any advice as at the present moment the Boys feel unsupported by the School.
I may sound harsh, but you need to be strong for your children, I think.
My dh lost his Mum when he was 23. My neighbour's children lost their Mum when they are 18 & 20.
But life goes on. It's hard, but you cannot dwell on it forever. I think their education is the most important thing at the moment, or their future will be ruined.
I think what you need to do is define precisely what help and support the education system can offer your sons.
Have they missed out on chunks of coursework? Can that be caught up? How? Do they need to defer and take an extra year to do their gcse and a levels? Is there counselling? Is there help you can access to help them ? How?
I have utter sympathy for you and your boys. I was a fully grown adult when my dad died and I barely functioned for a year so I don't want to minimise your sons suffering. I guess their dad would have wanted them to do their best.
The head can't be seen to be granting permission for a term-time holiday in important exam years, that is how it will be seen by the school. It's not exceptional circumstances and the holiday could be taken at another time. Can you consider just taking the holiday in half term and not missing a week of school? If not, go on the holiday anyway, you may be risking a fine but clearly you feel the holiday is important.
How has their level of attendance affected their education? Has it got better recently?
I can understand that if their attendance continues to be poor in a random way and their results are seriously affected as a result that the Head would feel that your decision to take them out for two weeks when you could have the same benefits in terms of grieving if you had gone for only one week is going to be detrimental to your boys.
They have suffered a massive trauma and I hope they have received and continue to receive counselling, but if missing school days is going to seriously affect their education, then I'm not sure that telling them they can stay away from school is doing them a favour.
Just wanted to add, my sister (half) lost her dad suddenly, just before Christmas, in front of her eyes as they were travelling and he stopped to get petrol (he did on his way to go and pay). She was only 15. She was off school until the new year, and then went back with a lot of support. My mum encouraged her to continue with her studies as that's what her father would have wanted. She got As and A*s in all her GCSEs, all As at her A levels, and is now doing a PhD at Uni.
I agree with the pp in saying that it is far from clear why thus needs to be a two week holiday.
As your DC are (from their ages) in the prep years for public exams, it's not a great idea for them to be missing week. But if there are factors which mean this is overriding key important, then just do it (and budget for the potential fine).
I think if you had requested a week off for emergency bereavement counselling at the time, that would have been granted.
After 18 months things should really be back to normal now. You need to be strong for them.
tuftysquid, I am so sorry about what happened to you and your boys.
I see you have another thread, so I will look at that, but it may be that the agencies (whoever it is that is giving you professional help) that are supporting you and the boys would be best placed to write to the school?
I think this thread demonstrates why you may be having difficulty with the school - there seems to be a template as to how people 'should' and ought' to react to grief and trauma.
Things will never be Normal again. After such a sudden death. 18 months is still very early days.
Clearly things will never be the same again, and it's a massive shock to all of you. However, and I mean this with kindness, you all must learn to live with this in a way which enables you all to get on with life in a way which is not detrimental.
Having significant time off school in the exam years is likely to be hugely detrimental to your children, and make their future lives far more difficult than they otherwise would have been.
Do you think it's possible you are projecting your obvious devastation on them and are perhaps holding them back from moving on. To still be needing significant time off school 18 months later isn't usual. Tragically I know several children who have lost parents. All have benefitted from being expected to be at school as normal after the first couple of weeks. It helps them accept the death, and learn how live with it. I won't say you'll get over it because you shouldn't, but accepting your life will be different, not worse, is hugely important. Even if you don't believe that at the moment I think it's really important you give your kids that message, and the message that you believe they are strong enough to successfully learn to live with the loss of their father, whilst looking forward to a bright future.
Name changed so not identified.
I am replying as someone whose dad died of a sudden heart attack when I was 16.
Whilst from your point of view this pilgrimage might be very important and healing its important to view it from your dc,s perspectve.
Their life has changed and they need stability and normality. They need to be in school getting on with the normal things in life. It is going to be hard enough to study for their exams without having a break Particularly a break which is going to bring back memories and could destabilise them.
In your position I would insist they are in school. Defer this break till after their exams . Make a big deal of your dad would have been proud of the way you are working. Your dad would have been so proud of your results.If of course he would have been
If they don't achieve their potential no future employer is going to take this bereavement as mitigation.
Sorry to be harsh I am not saying they should forget. Far from it. Talk about him. Let them know they can talk. But going to school and getting on with the normal things, being with friends is important too
Blu, I find it bit sad to read your last sentence.
We aren't heartless people who doesn't understand pain.
I lost my best friend when I was younger. I know it's not same. But I still sometimes think of her and it hurts.
Only thing I wanted to say was that OP has her dc's future to think about.
Sorry if my comment was offensive, op.
First of all, I need to say I am enormously sorry for your loss, and for your boys loss.
I do, however agree with many on this thread in saying that taking time out of school for a holiday 18months on probably isn't the best thing for the boys at this age, working towards exams.
Of course it is early days in so many ways, but bereaved dc often crave the security of 'normal' structure and routine. Your boys have their whole lives ahead of them, and are starting from such a sad place with the sudden loss of their father, it makes good sense to me to support them to achieve the very best they can in things they / you can control - which won't be done by taking weeks off school during exam year courses.
My sister's husband died this spring. My father had died 5 weeks before my BIL and my mother had died a year earlier, so my sister's DC had lost both their maternal GPs shortly before losing their father. My nephew took his IB exams one month after his father died, and has started university (in another country to his mother and sisters) this Autumn. My sister's other DC are at school and getting on with life.
I don't think missing school is the right approach to bereavement.
I was in a similar position to you, my DH left for work and a few hours later I was told he was dead. My DC were 19, 16 and 14 at the time. 18 months is nothing. It is impossible to quantify grief; for some it takes months; some years; some decades.
I personally find some of the comments on this thread hurtful. If you are one degree away from the relationship you have no idea. Cauliflower you have no idea and I found your comments insulting. I will never be back to 'normal', the love of my life has gone.
However, I do think you have to look at how you as a family are dealing with this dreadful situation. It was about 18 months after DH's death that my youngest DD finally started to be able to talk about her feelings. It might be worth looking at counselling now. Take care and good luck.
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