What Next?(2 Posts)
Reading (lurking) on the other thread about DSC's mother exaggerating or ignoring illnesses got me thinking about an issue we have at the moment and I wonder if anyone has any advice for us?
There is quite a big back story to our situation (isn't there always for step mums) but I will only include the relevant bits as I see them.
DSS's mum has had mental health problems in the past (depression, pnd, suicidal etc) Not recently but when they were still together. She refused help or to admit she was struggling and DH had to practically force her to visit her GP and to accept medication and other help. Until then she had pretended she was ok, put up a good front to friend and family but really wasn't very well. During this time she struggled looking after DSS and DH took lots of time off work and family helped out lots. That's in the past though, but possibly relevant.
A few months back DSS came to us and in the bag he bought with some bits in from his mums house there was a letter, which we assumed was from his mum to DH. It was actually from the local NHS trust / Mental Health Services confirming an appointment for her with a psychiatrist. We obviously never mentioned it and just pretended not to have seen it as we weren't supposed to and it was really any of our business, we assumed she had left it in the bag accidentally.
Problem is DH has said he thinks she's struggling again, her appearance has declined massively, DSS says she cries a lot, she seems to be getting more paranoid about things and wanting to control what happens in our home and has recently started being either nice and friendly or the complete opposite and angry and aggressive when dropping off or collecting DSS. He is regularly being taken late into nursery or not going at all and he cried that he doesn't want to go back there saying she shouts at him and is upset all the time. Two weeks ago DSS had some medication he needed to use two times a day but she didn't give it to him (not life threatening more a minor ailment, but a prescribed medication all the same). She now regularly forgets to return things to our house every week, doesn't fill in forms for nursery etc - all things she previously would have done, if that makes sense.
Dh is worried doesn't know what to do. He has offered to have DSS more, do school runs for her or help with money if she is struggling, all offers are just ignored and never replied to or mentioned. About a month ago he phoned Child Services but was met with exactly the reaction that made him hesitate in the first place. The lady at Child Services said his "allegations" (he made it quite clear he was asking for advice and what to do not "reporting" her) sound like malicious allegations people often make towards their ex and without any firm proof they would not contact her or ask her if she needs some support. He's got nothing to gain from malicious allegations, he is not trying to gain sole residency of DSS or trying to stop him seeing his mum or anything, just worried about his son.
In addition to the above DSS's nursery school manager is an (ex) child behavioral psychologist (think that's the right term) She has asked DH for his permission for DSS to be referred to camhs (children mental health service) for an appointment as she is worried about his behaviour (he has days at nursery where is is very introvert and seems upset but won't talk about it) he is not like this at home though. She seems to know her stuff so Dh agreed but was asked to also get DSS's mum's permission. He text her about a week ago about all this and she hasn't responded.
Do you know what happens when a child has an appointment with camhs, do you think it might help or trigger child services to speak with his mum so that perhaps she will ask them for some help etc. DH doesn't think she is abusing him or anything like that, just knows that she is very reluctant to ask for help and if she is having mental heath problems / suicidal again then she needs help.
We have a similar situation here that has been going on for a couple of years now. Dsc's mother has mental health problems and this impacts dreadfully on the physical care and emotional wellbeing of the kids. We too went to social services and had a similar response to you. We also tried the GP, health visitors, the nursery (who expressed similar concerns which SS did not act on at all), primary school, friendly family members etc. We have not been able to achieve anything to protect the dsc. This is devastating for dh as he is constantly worrying about what is happening when they are not in our care.
We have tried (depending on hostility levels from dh's ex wife, which can be quite extreme) offering her an open door where support for the dsc is concerned, so we will pick them up any time day or night if she needs us to have them for her, and for as long as she needs (and we made sure her family members knew this offer was available). Sometimes she has taken us up on this offer, sometimes not. Dh has also tried being very blunt and telling her exactly what he thinks is going on and asking her for full custody (following this we now have dsc 4 nights a week).
Tbh, as time has gone on (and the hostility has continued...) dh and I have both got tired of being on call for someone who doesn't seem to want to help herself and have felt the need to put some boundaries in place regarding her expectations and behaviour. This has helped the situation in someways but the issues continue...
The only advice I can give you is to get a diary and record EVERYTHING, keep pestering SS, talk to the nursery manager and explain the situation and ask for advice. And get a good solicitor and talk through your options. I'm sorry I don't have any more advice, its an awful, powerless situation to be in and I wish you good luck. Stay strong because your DSS will need you to be completely solid and consistent and endlessly loving, even when you feel like screaming.
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