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How did your parents broach difficult conversations with you? Share your thoughts with Railway Children and help raise money

(41 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 24-Sep-13 14:21:03

As you know already, over the past year Mumsnet have been working closely with the charity, Railway Children with the help of Aviva to raise awareness of the 100,000 children who run away from home every year in the UK– and help to highlight this hidden issue.

Railway Children say "for every interaction via Mumsnet: including posts, time spent reading about the issue – whether it’s about spotting the warning signs, how to talk to your own children or about the risks and consequences of running away - you help to trigger a 2 donation from Aviva. To date, you have helped raised an incredible £142,692 to provide help and support to children under 16 who have run away from home, or are at risk of doing so.

On the Railway Children pages on Mumsnet, we have talked about starting tricky conversations, especially about the topic of running away, and how and when the best times are to raise this topic. There are many aides these days, video clips, books and other resources, but we'd now like you to cast your minds back to when you were a teenager"

Please share on this thread...

~ How did your parents broach difficult conversations with you? (if at all)

~ Did the conversation of running away from home ever occur to them?

~ What has surprised you most about the issue of running away?

~ Has the Railway Children information encouraged you to have conversations with your children you might not have previously thought about?

For every valid comment (up to a maximum of 3 per user), Aviva has very kindly agreed to donate £2 to Railway Children to support the work they do. You can find out more about the charity and more ways to get involved here.

Thanks MNHQ

serin Tue 24-Sep-13 18:45:01

Can't ever remember my parents discussing running away with us but I remember my Mum going to a Daniel O'Donnell concert in Manchester and returning home with a homeless girl who stayed 2 weeks until Mum had sorted out somewhere for her to live!

That was a lesson in itself.

revolvenotevolve Tue 24-Sep-13 18:55:11

- with concerned faces and lots of sighing - concentrating mostly on the problem itself rather than the solution - generally would offer a worst case scenario and often asked me not to ask questions - bizarre and totally unhelpful

- possibly although I don't remember specifics - they generally would tell stories of people they knew etc and the awful things that happened to them etc

- didn't realise it was so many although I imagine a fair proportion do return quickly with positive results?? I think maybe showing how children can and do return successfully is actually quite important both for parents and potential supporters

- my children are quite young still so think conversation such as this aren't necessary yet - in the future perhaps yes

dahville Tue 24-Sep-13 20:13:54

How did your parents broach difficult conversations with you? (if at all)

I can't remember any; I don't think they took place.

Did the conversation of running away from home ever occur to them?

I'm sure it did as my brother had run away when he was a teenager and I was quite little (8 years younger than him) but it wasn't talked about very openly.

What has surprised you most about the issue of running away?

How prevalent it is, I think I may be a bit naive when it comes to this issue.

Has the Railway Children information encouraged you to have conversations with your children you might not have previously thought about?

Not yet as they are still quite tiny but I want to be an open parent.

How did they broach difficult conversations with me?

They didn't. They tried, maybe, they were amazingly loving, but they couldn't see beyond the effects- the results- of my problems, not the root causes. So a discussion on why I felt like this, why I ran away etc; didn't happen (until adulthood) for the simple reason that they struggled to understand the root cause (in m case, depression) and therefore there was no conversation, just a continual line of discipline and rewards and punishment and all the things a responsible parent should do. But no 'difficult' conversations, it never occurred to them.

They never talked about running away. I loved them- I'd cried on them (as little as possible though) and they thought I'd shared my feelings with them (I felt I couldn't, but gave fake offerings rather) and I don't think they ever imagined I would run away. After I ran away, they disciplined me and they talked but because the difficult conversations (see above) had never happened, I hadn't 'learnt' to share anything.

I think how prevalent it is. I know I wasn't alone (I'm 21 and ran away 7yrs ago, at 14) now, but at the time, the need to just escape made me feel so alone and isolated- like I was 'wrong'. I haven't shared anything about my past life but running away is an emotive topic and if it's ever mentioned, I feel even lonelier. It seems so common, but I'm sure to many teenagers, they feel so alone too.

They haven't really encouraged me- she's 4! But she knows that I am 'ill' and we have had conversations of what it feels like, and this has lead onto talks about her feelings a bit. I hope that if she grows up understanding what it felt like for me to want to run away, and growing up sharing her feelings, then she will be in a better position than I was to access help if so necessary.

cory Wed 25-Sep-13 10:54:47

~ How did your parents broach difficult conversations with you? (if at all)

with extreme difficulty

~ Did the conversation of running away from home ever occur to them?

no, nor to me, thought in retrospect I am a bit worried about what I might have put up with because it seemed such a dreadful thing to rock the boat- though I did think of suicide rather than running away as my escape route if the worst came to the worst

~ What has surprised you most about the issue of running away?

that the campaign is so focused on the dangers of running away rather than on providing support with the issues that might lead someone to consider running away in the first place; to me it's like running an anti-suicide campaign with the mantra Suicide is really bad for you.

onetiredmummy Wed 25-Sep-13 11:54:33

They bought me books instead of having a conversation. I learnt about menstruation through a book called Sue's Red Letter Day' or something. Never ever talked about sex/pregnancy or anything intimate.

I thought I would run away when I was a teen, packed my bag but then my mum shouted at me so I didn't dare.

DinoSnores Wed 25-Sep-13 12:42:24

They didn't. They just avoided issues and ignored anything that might cause confrontation.

JustGettingOnWithIt Wed 25-Sep-13 14:05:51

(The first two answers are from just before my teens)

1) No. Conversations happened between adults, not between adults and children, children were told, talked at, ordered, shouted at, punished, not talked to, but a lot of raw stuff went on in front of us so we were street wise from an early age.

2) Unsure, but food collected in preparation to go was found and severely punished for as stolen, and it was made clear leaving would bring an unacceptable spotlight to things, so maybe there was some idea it might happen. When I did go, returning or turning myself in didn't seem options. It was a couple of years before anyone got round to recording me as missing anyway.

3) I feel I ought to be surprised about something but can't find it, but Cory makes an excellent point.
.
4) My children don’t know the grimmer details but they grew up knowing the rough outlines of the past, and it’s why the family line is how it is. It was that or lots of lieing and I didn't think that was a good thing to do to them so plonked for the truth as lesser of evils.
They’ve grown up very differently and in a very different world. Talking, listening, and negotiation are big parts of daily life here, and they aren’t shy in coming forward over how they feel or about things that bother them, but the eldest bore the brunt of the learning curve, and I think the past has quite a bit to do with how things now are, and we might not have this if I’d had a better beginning.

EstoyAqui Wed 25-Sep-13 14:16:05

My parents never discussed much with me. I remember being interrogated once as I had gone to play with my uncle and his friends at an adventure playground whilst at a holiday park. I was gone most of the afternoon and despite my uncle saying he had told my mum apparently he hadn't. My dad was adamant that something must have happened and I had been molested but I wasn't even sure what he was referring to when he kept asking about "being touched" or "looking at your private parts". It seems that I was rather naive. It was only a few years later that I began to understand not everyone was a genuine person and that you couldn't always trust adults. sad

The conversation of running away was only ever mentioned in the context of "if you are going to cause me all that trouble then you had better stay away if you leave". I eventually left home at 17 as I felt I couldn't live with them anymore.

The issue that has surprised me the most is the number of runaways. Also that children from all walks of life do it.

I really hope that by having open discussions and telling my DCs I love them daily giving them the chance to tell me how they feel and talking about what's going on in their lives that they will never feel that it is an option for them.

EstoyAqui Wed 25-Sep-13 14:22:43

Even typing that now makes me so fucking angry with my parents. At the time of that holiday I must have been 5 or 6. They didn't even notice I was gone until I came back. It was only at this point was a fuss made. sad

I'm the same as justgettingonwithit I was talked or shouted at, never listened to and my opinions were dismissed. I think I gave up talking to them once and nobody even noticed for a week.

More should be done to help children before they think suicide or running away are the only option.

FWIW I have no contact with them anymore and my life is much improved as a result.

GoldenGytha Wed 25-Sep-13 15:00:52

Mine never discussed anything with me at all, difficult issues were ignored,

My parents were very much in the same vein as Estoy in that I was warned again and again never to cause any trouble, and to deny all my feelings and emotions, as they were of no matter to anyone, least of all to my parents. I wasn't allowed an opinion on anything either.

I thought about running away constantly, but the fear of what my mother would do to me when I returned stopped me from doing so. I have as little to do with my family as possible now, and am working towards no contact at all.

NotCitrus Wed 25-Sep-13 16:03:42

a. They didn't. Closest would be when my mum heard about some terrible thing teenagers of the day were doing, and would say "you don't do that, do you NotCitrus?" And I'd say of course not, or change the subject.

b. Doubt it.
c. What surprised me most was how few places there are for children to go, especially given how many run away to a big city like London.

purpleroses Wed 25-Sep-13 22:02:45

a) By watching East Enders together and discussing situations on it about not real people. And by starting conversations about "people you know" and never ever asking me to name names. So I could talk to her about all sorts - drugs, sex, etc and I knew she's never put me on the spot by asking my about myself. (This is my mum, my dad has never tried to have a difficult conversation with me in his life, I don't think - that was firmly my mum's job)

b) Yes - I tried it a couple of times as a younger child but never got very far (I mean, seriously, the garden shed blush). But when older it was brought up and I was told very firmly that if I ever did I MUST phone them to let them know I was OK even if I didn't want to come home.
c) ?
d) Not really - mine are a bit young and can't imagine them wanting to run away as they are at the moment.

Bubbles85 Thu 26-Sep-13 20:08:20

My parents never discussed running away with me, but to be honest I never thought about running away either.

ImperialBlether Thu 26-Sep-13 23:11:34

~ How did your parents broach difficult conversations with you? (if at all)

They didn't, ever, though god knows there were many, many difficult conversations they should have had.

~ Did the conversation of running away from home ever occur to them?

I don't think so. They certainly never mentioned it. They weren't anxious if we were late home, etc. They would have thought we were making things worse if we ran away from home. As Cory said, suicide would have been the option, rather than running away from home - I thought about it daily for many years but didn't really think of running away because it would have upset them (when they'd realised I'd gone!)

~ What has surprised you most about the issue of running away?

I've always thought there should be a safe place for children to go - a kind of children's home they could book themselves into without any repercussions. And, really, would anyone book themselves in who didn't really, really need help? I'm surprised that the money goes towards dealing with runaways rather than dealing with the problems that lead people to want to run away.

~ Has the Railway Children information encouraged you to have conversations with your children you might not have previously thought about?

No, that hasn't, but my children are adult now. I used to watch soaps with them and discuss difficult situations with them. They both knew children (teenagers) who left home and lived in sheltered accommodation away from their families so saw at first hand how difficult things could be.

How did your parents broach difficult conversations with you? (if at all). My parents were actually very good at this. When my Aunt committed suicide when I was 6, they were honest without me about it (unlike another cousin's parents, who led her to believe my Aunt's death was an accident until said cousin was 20). When another Aunt was suffering from and ultimately died with an horrific illness, they were honest about that, too. They always spoke frankly about sex, periods, death, and all of my other worries.

Did the conversation of running away from home ever occur to them? Only once, after I had run away. Christmas Eve, when I was 12. My parents had a blazing row and I packed a bag and ran off. My father came and found me, brought me home, then sat me down with him and my Mum, while they explained that although they had been cross at each other, they still dearly loved my sisters and I, and that running away never solves a problem.

What has surprised you most about the issue of running away? I have typed, deleted, and re-typed my reply to this question many times, and really, nothing I can say will be more eloquent and well-worded than what cory already posted, being 'that the campaign is so focused on the dangers of running away rather than on providing support with the issues that might lead someone to consider running away in the first place; to me it's like running an anti-suicide campaign with the mantra Suicide is really bad for you.'

AllThatGlistens Fri 27-Sep-13 12:56:58

They never did approach any difficult topics, I learnt through school or books sad

I actually did run away as a teenager, for a very short time, and someone close to me had the sense to reach out and persuade me to come back, I didn't want to, at 15years old I thought I'd be fine out there alone.

The thought alone makes my blood run cold now, and my DH and I have a very close, open relationship with our DC, and always answer whatever questions they have honestly and age appropriately.

My biggest fear is my DC feeling they can't talk to me, I hope they always feel that we're approachable.

kateandme Fri 27-Sep-13 23:08:07

i think it wasnt a specific sit down talk we had but on occassions things came up.
even the time when we were little and wandered off.they would explain how dangerous it can be.so although this wasnt purposful running away from home it showed us the dangers of leaving home,parent etc.
i think as i grew up i may have screamed that i was running away but again mum and dad would tell me how bad things could be in coimparision out there.and luckily i never wanted to really it was one of those things kids say.

unfortunatly when i was older i was snet to live in a place where things that occured meant i felt the need to run away.it was dangerous and probably very worrying and wrong of me to do so,but it didnt feel as if i had any other option but to get out of where i was.
i was put in danger yes and will never forget that time.it taught me that with my own kids ill do anything to keep them safe and happy.but also to just know they are loved and i want them with me.
my parents didnt have any control over when i had to go away.and it devistated them.
i learnt lot from their anguish and it hurts still to this day to know what as a family we went through in that time.the worst of our lives.its shaped us forever and only makes me love and appreicate them more.and so to with my own familt and children i will never want to let them go!!

I have never been close to my parents unfortunately so I found it very difficult to approach them about anything and they also didn't find it easy talking to me. They definitely didn't discuss running away from home but I make sure that I'm not like that with my children.

Alicadabra Tue 01-Oct-13 14:48:29

How did your parents broach difficult conversations with you? (if at all)
I don't recall any conversations like this. I think the closest thing was my mother telling me to "be careful" with a boyfriend...when I was 19!

Did the conversation of running away from home ever occur to them?
Not that I'm aware of. I seriously doubt it.

What has surprised you most about the issue of running away?
The number of kids who run away.

Has the Railway Children information encouraged you to have conversations with your children you might not have previously thought about?
I don't think so. I'm unlikely to pro-actively start conversations about things like suicide or running away as my kids are still very young. However, I always try to find a way to answer honestly (if not always completely - some of it does need to wait until they're older) when the children ask questions.

manfalou Tue 01-Oct-13 20:26:22

I remember my parents shouting about things a lot when another child had done something.. things along the lines of 'Don't you dare do what xxxx did'...it would somehow turn into me getting into trouble for it too? The subject of sex was never an issue and was quite 'open' I suppose. My mum gave me a packet of condoms after my dad had the snip...I think I was 16... saying 'you might as well have these, we don't need them any more'!!! I was Mortified!

I don't ever remember the specific subject of running away being brought up, wouldn't dare though, I was too scared of my parents. My dad was a wife beater, my mum was an alcoholic. In hindsight I would've been a child that would have been 'at risk' of running away.

I am surprised at how many children run away, I've only ever known children who run from school back home but not actually run away.

I don't think I would sit down and say 'right, let talk about....'. If the subject came up in one way or another then yes we would talk about it but at the minute my children are only 3 and 5 months so I don't feel that need yet either.

SleepPleaseSleep Wed 02-Oct-13 09:51:31

I looked at this thread hoping for tips, as one of my big ambitions is to build a better relationship with my kids than I had, and instead it's all more people like me! No wonder we have such a crappy society when there's so many of us who couldn't even relate to our own.
Like the eastEnders idea, but not sure I can sit through that drivel, or want dcs to. Books instead maybe.

Lavenderhoney Wed 02-Oct-13 10:07:09

1. Never, not even periods. Or sex, apart from being against it! I ran away once - put my wellies on, coat over nightie, plastic bag of books and a teddy- and they were so busy shouting they didnt notice. My dsis bought me back in the pouring rain and they just screamed at me for leaving and her for being out of bed. Nothing was said next day. Christ, I couldn't wait to leave.

2. No, you either did what they said or you could go. There would be no coming back. Bizarre, as both had awful childhoods, orphanages, being abandoned etc. still, they didnt talk much to each other either.

3. The reasons for running away today seem to be the same as the past. I always tell my dc they can talk to a teacher, if they prefer. I always let the teacher know I have said that!

4. They are a bit small, but I will.

DifferentNow Wed 02-Oct-13 15:11:04

~ How did your parents broach difficult conversations with you? (if at all)

They didn't. I had to learn a lot of hard lessons.

~ Did the conversation of running away from home ever occur to them?

I effectively 'ran away' from home at age 16. I have a good relationship with my Dad and Stepmother now but we never discuss it. I think they feel guilt and it would be too painful for me to bring up.

~ What has surprised you most about the issue of running away?

I suppose going on my own experience, I always imagined that if you had a happy, loving and secure environment at home then everything would be peachy and that this sort of thing wouldn't be an issue. I have a pre-teen of my own now and although I think/hope she's happy and all's well, I realise how important it is not to assume that everything's ok and that there are no real stereotype runaways.

~ Has the Railway Children information encouraged you to have conversations with your children you might not have previously thought about?

Yes. It's made me revisit my own experiences.

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