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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

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 15-Oct-13 08:04:29

thanks for all the comments: we have another thread now live for Railway Children - do add your feedback/ share the contents with your DCs school. Thanks

nooka Tue 15-Oct-13 00:11:09

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

I had many difficult conversations with my mother, because she fairly frequently talked to/at me about things I really didn't want to talk about (with her) at all. Luckily I had my much older sister and close aunt to talk to instead. My father was very introvert and conversations about emotional issues were not a frequent event.

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

I don't recall ever talking to my parents about running away, and I've no idea if it was a worry for them. I did ask my father to send me to boarding school when I was 16 because living with my mother was becoming fairly intolerable (to both of us I suspect). I guess that was a way of running away from home. Weird looking back at how I was happy to accept all sorts of restrictions just to be in a different environment.

~ What has surprised you most about the issue of running away?
I've never really experienced running away from home as a concept aside from books/the news, so didn't have any very fixed ideas about it. In my circle of friends/family sometimes teens went and lived with someone else for a while when things got difficult, but no one ever disappeared. So I guess it's a surprise how widespread an issue it is.

~ Has the Railway Children information encouraged you to have conversations with your children you might not have previously thought about?
Last time there was a sponsored link at MN I had a conversation with my children about running away, and all the potential reasons why someone might feel they had to escape. It's come up in the context of books we've read or films/music videos etc too.

flow4 Mon 14-Oct-13 08:05:19

~ How did your parents broach difficult conversations with you? (if at all)
This is a tricky question, isn't it, because what makes a 'difficult' conversation? We tend to call conversations 'difficult' if we don't get what we want out of them, so one that is very hard for one person may feel like a success to the other...
My parents - mostly my father - talked to me about all sorts of things: their plans to separate, my mother's cancer, drugs, sex and contraception, other people's behaviour they disapproved of... But I was talked to, they weren't 'conversations'. I always heard what my dad thought about everything; he never knew what I thought!

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

~ What has surprised you most about the issue of running away?
That there is such a sense of powerlessness. The campaign is saying "Children run away. It can happen to anyone. How awful"... But that's it: I get no sense at all that anyone can do anything.
I'm also surprised that this is being treated as a single issue. Personally I think there are several different 'issues' conflated here. It seems to me that some kids run away because there are awful things going on at home, and running is their best option. Some kids run away because they are confused and overwhelmed with life: running away is something to do when they feel they want to do something. And some kids 'run away' because they're not getting their own way about something, and they see it as a way to get more freedom and independence. Obviously, the causes, the effects and the responses are different in these situations - or should be. I wonder whether the impression that there is nothing anyone can do about children running away is rooted in a lack of understanding about the reasons, or an unwillingness to examine them...?

~ Has the Railway Children information encouraged you to have conversations with your children you might not have previously thought about?
Yes. DS1 (18) doesn't know kids who have 'run away'; he knows one or two who have 'left home' and a few more who have been 'kicked out'. He sees it as an issue of independence: the first lot are taking independence their parents didn't want to give them; the second are having it thrust upon them because they have pushed their luck too far.
DS2 (13) doesn't know anyone who has run away. He doesn't believe many kids do, or rather, he doesn't believe they do and mean it, though he thinks some could be doing it as a kind of 'game', not realising the consequences. He thinks kids who run away think it'll be 'like Tracy Beaker'...

rightsaidfrederick Sun 13-Oct-13 22:44:32

~ How did your parents broach difficult conversations with you? (if at all)
There must have been lots of silent umming and ahing, and then they'd just randomly strike up conversations, usually when I was in the middle of doing something more pressing (e.g. homework)

~ Did the conversation of running away from home ever occur to them?
Not that I can remember

~ What has surprised you most about the issue of running away?
How many kids do it - I don't think I remember anyone who I knew when I was growing up running away.

Jux Wed 09-Oct-13 15:33:29

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

My mum barged in on me when I was in the bath to have a conversation about periods when I was 14 and knew all about it from friends. That's it.

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

No, but my younger brother ran away twice and it was devastating. He went to friends both times and stayed away a week or 10 days but was getting feedback about the state we were all in, which may have contributed to his decision to return. I do remember he and I when we were very young packing a case and leaving the house to join the circus. We had no awoken early enough, and my mum heard us leaving and brought us back. I think I was 4 so he would have been 3.

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

The sheer numbers. Much much higher than I had thought, and I had thought 50000.

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

I had talked to dd about this issue before; bite sized chunks over time, but I did have a further chat to her about it.

yegodsandlittlefishes Sun 06-Oct-13 09:50:26

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

Rarely. Dad was better, we were closely and would often just chat about all kinds of things, practical and philosophical and so he would bring things up in the same calm and warm tone of voice. He would ask me why i did certain things or what I thought about things.
Mum never really had discussions with me, she would assume she know everything about me without actually asking me. She would either give me direct orders to do things which at times was very unhelpful, or she would be over protective and not let me make my own mistakes. I felt she didn't give me much encouragement.

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

I think the idea that I might run away occurred to them, but I don't remember them ever talking to me about it.

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

So much has changed for young people (mobile phones, the internet, the court cases and publicity of child abuse cases changing a lot of attitudes) and yet some things have not changed.

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

I think it has been one thing that has helped, yes, among many other prompts and things of interest to discuss.

madeit Sat 05-Oct-13 22:38:52

They didn't.

Loopytiles Fri 04-Oct-13 21:38:00

Important cause, so great that money is being raised. Lots of sad experiences on this thread though.

I had a loving, stable home, just a few blips! Parents did well at broaching difficult conversations. They talked about their own stuff openly (and rowed openly too - not so good!). Dad had left home and joined the army straight from school due to awful physical abuse. They told us about that, when we were fairly young, and his upbringing, it was OK to discuss or ask about.

Mum tended to blurt her worries about us out and get angry or emotional, which while sometimes not always harmonious did show she cared, and things got talked about.

Or she and dad would go out for a walk (or now suspect quick drink!) together, obviously to mull things over, then one of them would come to talk afterwards, with their agreed approach!

I had a friend who talked about running away and got into some bad relationhsips, she had a difficult home situation, I didn't really know how to help. Luckily she's done well in her life.

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 04-Oct-13 12:24:59

Hi - please see a comment from Railway Children which they wanted me to pass onto you.

"Thanks for sharing some very personal stories and views. Your comments highlight that no matter how caring your parents are, there can be times when young people need to talk to someone outside the family. This is why we fund helplines and also advocate that all young people who run away should be offered a return interview with an independent person. Sadly, recent research has shown that provision is very patchy. (1)

We focus on the dangers of running away, as we know that young people who leave home suddenly after family conflict are particularly at risk, but we also do a lot of work to address underlying causes. This includes one-to-one work with young people, and family support, as we know that if the reasons for running are not dealt with, the young person is likely to end up in a risky situation again. By supporting helplines and preventative work, we also try to ensure that young people have ways of accessing services before things reach crisis point."


(1) Freedom of Information requests by The Children's Society found that less than a third of Local Authorities are providing return interviews for all children who go missing from home, and less than half are providing them for all children who go missing from care.

MaddAddam Fri 04-Oct-13 11:01:34

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

~ They told us what they expected us to do and that was that. They handed out rules rather than conversations.

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

No, that was for less functional families!

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

Nothing really, I knew a lot of teeenagers did it. and I have quite a bit of sympathy with teenagers who are struggling with their parents.

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

Not exactly, I already talk a lot to my children about things like relationships, drinking, self harming, eating disorders, what to do if they're not happy at school etc. Running away seems further down the list.

Ruby6918 Fri 04-Oct-13 10:52:41

i ran away at aged 13 and was missing for 9 days, im now 44 and was found by the police and then placed into a care home as my mum didnt want me back, my mum was a strict single parent and what started as a whim ended up an adventure, there were no mobiles in those days and i regret what i put my mum through, we had little communication together and she was a cold type of parent, i have children myself now and encourage talking together, its hard as they are teenagers now but i try, always keep avenues of communication open, if its only suggesting walking the dog together,baking or enjoying a tv programme sometimes these can be the times when its easier to talk about things, if kids feel un loved this be the catalyst, ihope no one ever has to go through it, its awful for everyone

RevoltingPeasant Thu 03-Oct-13 18:59:19

My parents, especially my mum, were just really honest with us.

We never talked about running away - and there wasn't a need to - but we did have to talk about when my sister got cancer and some other things of similar magnitude, like when my mum had a MC or decided to have an abortion.

They would just quietly, matter of fact, say what had happened in clear and simple terms, and that they loved us, and then just be quiet and let us ask questions.

This is kind of controversial, but......... I actually see a connection here to (of all things) the Santa Claus thread earlier. I feel like people who want their children's lives to be 'magical' and are prepared to actively lie to them, even when DC know they are not telling the truth, might possibly also not be able to approach real-life hard truths easily.

missmartha Thu 03-Oct-13 13:52:32

~ How did your parents broach difficult conversations with you? (if at all)
They didn't, if I asked questions like where do babies come from, I'd be told that I'd learn that at school.

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

I don't now about my father (who was at work a lot), but my mum was so vile to me I regularly ran away, from the age of about 6. She would actually tell me to go.

The neighbours would take me in, give me a hug and walk me home to my mother.

She never hit me or anything, she just didn't like me much.

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

It wasn't an issue. It's only since I've grown up and become a mum that I can see that my mother was very odd.

gazzalw Thu 03-Oct-13 07:26:01

No no talk of any such thing in our house! Did consider it once when I was fed up with my younger siblings! I recall thinking I would live in a shed :-). I didn't do it though....too afraid of the unknown!

MollyBerry Wed 02-Oct-13 23:00:40

They didn't, it was artfully ignored.

Definitely did not talk about running away but I often wanted to...

CMOTDibbler Wed 02-Oct-13 15:27:03

My parents steadfastly avoided discussing anything difficult. We certainly didn't talk about running away

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!!

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.

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.'

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