Wrong of me to use dd's money to pay fine for non-attendance?

(34 Posts)
Minifingers Mon 08-Jul-13 16:21:51

Regular posters will know our back story.

According to dd's (13) counsellor at school, DD's attendance is now below the figure where the education authority will start to take action by imposing on the spot fines on us of 60 quid.

Given that dd has no mental health problems, there are no bullying issues (we have really pursued this line of enquiry with her teachers, CAMHS and her friends) and is considered well liked and popular when she does attend, would it be wrong of me to take the fine money out of the cash my mum has put aside for her university/gap year/first car/whatever to try to incentivise her to improve her attendance? The money is not in dd's name, it is money my mum has saved with a view to giving it to her at some point in the future. A future which will be really shit if dd doesn't stop bunking off school.

We have asked dd why she does it and her answer is 'the school is rubbish' (it isn't - lots of kids do really well there and they've been very accommodating and supportive of dd), 'I don't learn anything anyway' (nobody can make you learn if you 're determined not to), and, err, nothing. Her head of year and tutor say that she appears to enjoy many of her lessons and gets on well with everyone when she is there and they are at a loss to know how to advise us. We've reasoned with her, liaised with the school, pleaded with her, done all we can to persuade her attend. She goes most days (albeit late enough to keep missing lessons) but takes days off when she feels like it.

My personal take on this is that the truanting is about power and control, avoiding meeting the demands and expectations of the real world, and laziness. She takes days off because she can. It has to stop. If the fines start to impact seriously on our budget (money is tight already) I feel the resentment it will cause will poison our family relationships even further than they are poisoned already by her aggressive, selfish and bullying behaviour, which has made me and DH absolutely miserable for the last 3 years.

Minifingers Tue 09-Jul-13 11:26:50

sash - we tried home ed for one term, while she was waiting for a school place. It was hideous. She wouldn't get out of bed, and wanted to lie around watching shit on tv all day. Had massive tantrums if I tried to get her to do anything constructive at all.

Her school is fine. Her teachers are nice. Girls go on to really good universities from there, it's very diverse and they do loads of after school activities. It's not pressured, but if she wanted to excel academically she could - if she was prepared to get her head down and do some work.

I think home ed is amazing for children who are intellectually curious and self-directed in their learning. It would be great for my other two who are really productive children who are always working on some project or other. However, dd is as lazy as the day is long. Her idea of a productive day would be: lie in bed until lunch time; eat half a jar of nutella for lunch; go back to bed and watch horror films on netflix; get up at 4pm; drink half a litre of red bull and eat 5 packet of crisps and then make a fry-up. Leave dishes all over the kitchen; spend 3 hours on facebook; cadge money for a kebab; stay up until 3pm watching reruns of Waterloo Road.

Seriously - home ed. was the product of my worst parental delusion, a complete failure to acknowledge the reality of dd's personality and habits.

Minifingers Tue 09-Jul-13 11:29:18

3littlefrogs - have called the police twice when dd attacked me. She was completely unfazed. Even though one of them looked and sounded exactly like Grant Mitchell, and was wearing full kit. In fact I'd say she was quite proud of herself, and went into school telling all her friends 'my mum called the feds on me'! She has no fear of anyone.

AcrylicPlexiglass Tue 09-Jul-13 11:47:18

How frustrating. Have you been contacted by educational welfare? What do they suggest you do?

BastardDog Tue 09-Jul-13 15:27:32

Oh dear minifingers, I really do empathise.

I have a 13 yo who came off the rails last year, truanting, criminal damage, bullying etc which escalated into some bizarre personal hygiene behaviours. He has always been my boy and we've always been close, but he went to a place last year where I could not reach him. Nothing worked ; punishment, reward, incentives, pleading ....... Nothing. Very scary for the rest of the family and probably for him to.

I took him out of school to home Ed. Ha! That was an education I can tell you, for me. It lasted half a term, by which time I was on the verge of a breakdown, on sleeping tablets and ordered by my GP and my mum to get him back to school so I could have some respite each day.

He went back to school (a different school) and has been seeing CAMHS regularly since. They've ruled out ADHD and ASD and say he's polite, mature and a 'normal' 13yo. They are about to discharge him and close his file.

He's settled at his new school and they've been brilliant with him and have worked very much in partnership with us over his attendance and behaviour.

At home he's back to how he was before, still a few issues, but things are manageable.

It sounds like you've had years of what we experienced for a few months sad.

So in answer to your original question yes I would use 'her' money to pay any fine. Not because you think it will have any impact on her behaviour, but because it will lessen the frustration and resentment that the rest of the family will feel.

Lastly, you've probably covered it, but CAMHS did uncover that ds is very passive aggressive and dealt with authority figures (parents and school) using passive aggressive behaviours. Hence probably him coming over as polite and mature in the CAMHS setting? Anyway this is getting too long now. I just thought I'd throw that last bit in in case it rings any bells for you.

Corygal Tue 09-Jul-13 15:38:55

Yes to the fines, but I would make it something DD loses now and personally, not an education fund - she won't care unless it impacts that day.

Moving area might be the right thing to do - for her, not you. Do you know anyone who would be prepared to take her? How long could they stand it, realistically?

3littlefrogs Tue 09-Jul-13 17:45:22

She needs a bootcamp. Really.

I would go all out to look for somewhere, anywhere that would take her.

Not helpful, I know, but I think I would be looking for something along those lines.

Is there any way that you can separate her from the fridge/television/money? Or is the reaction too much to cope with?

Did the police offer any advice at all?

sashh Wed 10-Jul-13 08:08:36

mini

Oh you really have tried everything.

Wish I could help.

Ledkr Wed 10-Jul-13 10:12:28

I remember standing there as my son handed over his Xmas money to pay for the large Internet porn bill he had managed to run up.
The only guilt I felt was for the people who had go an it to him in good faith.

flow4 Wed 10-Jul-13 23:52:16

When my DS went through this stage, I phoned the education social work team and was reassured that if I was communicating regularly and effectively with the school, and doing all I could to get him into school, then although they had the power to fine me, they wouldn't use it. Here's hoping your LA take the same view.

If they do fine you, it would not be wrong to take it from her, but personally I would take it from current money not some set aside for the future that probably doesn't feel very real to her.

And conversely, have you tried paying her to go to school? That worked with my DS for about a year. He got (I think, but is was a few years ago and the details are blurry so the amounts maybe wrong) £1.50/day for going and an extra fiver if he managed a full week; then after a while, nothing daily but £20 for a full week in his hand on a Friday night. Plenty of people will disapprove, but I was desperate enough to try anything.

I won't get started on the subject of how rubbish the English curriculum is for kids who learn thru' doing rather then sitting still and listening (you can do an advanced search for my previous rants posts on this subject if you're interested)... But it ends up failing many of them.

My DS pratted around in school, scraped 5 GCSEs, pratted around even more for a year on a level 1 course intended for NEETs, and then finally got his act together, and is doing well on a level 3 course and thinking about uni... If your DD is bright (and it sounds like she is) she'll almost certainly sort herself out in the end... You just have to survive the next few years!

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