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.

tribpot Mon 08-Jul-13 16:32:44

I don't think you're wrong to use 'her' money for the fine, although I doubt that money set aside for something that isn't going to happen for 5 years is going to have much of an impact. I would be looking for something that represents a more immediate sanction.

Minifingers Mon 08-Jul-13 16:41:55

Any suggestions for effective sanctions will be gratefully taken. We have tried all sanctions (removing Internet access/taking phone/grounding) and rewards (money/praise/time out with us). Any further ideas?

Using 'her' money isn't just about incentivising her. It's about stopping our resentment about the pain she's causing the whole family with her behaviour growing to unmanageable proportions. Why should my other children and DH and I go without treats and outings (because it's from this budget that the fines will come out of) because she insists on truanting for no good reason? We're all suffering enough as it is with her tantrums, violence, selfishness and bullying. sad

PeterParkerSays Mon 08-Jul-13 16:50:22

Are you going on holiday thins year? Or what about her presents for Christmas?

I'd put a sizeable sum of money in a jar, where she can see it, and every day that she doesn't turn up, a sum of money comes out of the jar, and she gets less as a result.

I agree with Tribot that using money she won't see for another 5 years, presuming she pulls her socks up enough to get good A levels and go to university, isn't a sufficient incentive.

Do you put credit on her phone? £5 less a month for each day absent?

livinginwonderland Mon 08-Jul-13 17:23:09

Put money in a jar, and for every day she skips school, take money back out of the jar for you. By the end of say, each week or fortnight, she can keep whatever money in the jar as pocket money (for her phone bill, snacks, days out, whatever). If there's no money in the jar, then she doesn't get any of those things.

Visual incentives work better than threats of taking money she doesn't see anyway.

AcrylicPlexiglass Mon 08-Jul-13 17:26:43

Do you take her to school?

BrianTheMole Mon 08-Jul-13 17:29:12

I can see your point, but dont think it would work. Unless she would feel guilty about her nans money?

3littlefrogs Mon 08-Jul-13 17:32:30

What do you pay for that she wants/needs?

I am thinking of things like phone, credit, computer time, TV time, clothes, toiletries etc.

I would write down the cost per month of all of these things and compare with the £60 fine.

Remove something each time a fine is incurred.

There is no point in telling her you are taking the money out of the savings account. That will have no impact on her whatsoever.

She needs to experience the consequences of her behaviour.

If CAMHS are already involved, could you ask about boarding school?

Whatever the problem is, it needs sorting now. 13 is very young.

This isn't normal behaviour, especially if it has been going on for 3 years.

Minifingers Mon 08-Jul-13 17:45:42

"Do you take her to school?"

She weighs 11 stone. I can't force her to get in the car, nor would I try.

3littlefrogs Mon 08-Jul-13 17:52:47

11 stone is a lot for a 13 year old, unless she is very tall.

Does she have food/eating issues?

I know you have said that she appears happy and settled at school, but it does sound as if there is more to this.

Do you have complete faith in the school and the staff?

Minifingers Mon 08-Jul-13 18:20:39

"11 stone is a lot for a 13 year old, unless she is very tall.

Does she have food/eating issues?"

She is 5ft 3inches. (but about a stone of that weight is her 34G cup bosom). Yes she's overweight. This because one of the ways her teenage rebelliousness has expressed itself is for her to buy fizzy drinks and sweets most days. Where does she get the money from? Grandparents (yes we have asked them not to), her aunt, her train fare, her lunch money, any spare coins she finds around the house, or what she can scab off friends.

"I know you have said that she appears happy and settled at school, but it does sound as if there is more to this."

Well there is more to it. She is in a state of total teenage rebellion. She doesn't want to do anything she doesn't want to do. So she's happy to behave well in the subjects she likes and that she finds easy, but behaves like an absolute arse in maths and history because she doesn't like them. She does no work at all outside school, because she doesn't want to. This means sometimes she cops some flack at school from the teachers she's rude to in class. She also won't go to bed when we tell her during the week. If you insist she shouts and wakes the two younger children up, so we let her go to be when she wants, as long as it's before 12. And of course then she doesn't want to get up for school. So she doesn't.

I can hear you saying 'I wouldn't put up with that from my children, where are your boundaries?', to which I'd answer, 'they've been blasted to smithereens by three years of persistent, dogged aggression and defiance". We have tried. We really have. We have revised our expectations down and down and down, as she has ridden roughshod through them again and again. Now we try to avoid confrontations which result in violence and screaming - it simply isn't fair on our two younger children and it has destroyed my peace of mind over the past few years. We have three rules left: no violence, go to school, and tell us where you are when you're not at home or school. We also have the rule 'be on time for school' but she's flouted that one so consistently that we shouldn't really call it a 'rule' any more, because it means nothing to her.

"Do you have complete faith in the school and the staff?"

As much as I can do. DD appears perfectly happy btw - as long as she's not being expected to do anything she doesn't want to do. She is generally very high spirited and good humoured. She's like a massive toddler. Happy and living in the moment. And then you say 'no' to her and a shit-storm of epic proportions descends.....

3littlefrogs Mon 08-Jul-13 18:58:37

minifingers - I feel desperately sorry for you and wouldn't dream of criticising. It is obvious you are doing your best - you are between a rock and a hard place.

I have had my share of problems with my own teenagers and it is very hard.

My honest opinion? I think she would benefit from either boarding school (there are state ones) or living elsewhere. Sounds drastic, but it sounds as if you can't go on as your are.

Is there any possibility of either of those happening?

CAMHS have to consider the effect on your other DC.

Rowanred Mon 08-Jul-13 19:05:31

I think boarding school sounds like a really good idea.

Minifingers Mon 08-Jul-13 19:15:01

Even a state boarding school is more than we could afford (though we earn too much for a bursary)

tribpot Mon 08-Jul-13 19:53:41

What about some of the money that's been put aside for her future? She needs an investment now, by the sounds of it - and god knows, you need some respite.

Minifingers Mon 08-Jul-13 20:02:24

The money that's been out aside is only about 1k - not very much!

3littlefrogs Mon 08-Jul-13 20:03:21

I was going to say the same as tribpot.

I think you have to emphasise the negative effect her behaviour is having on your younger DC. they deserve to have a normal family life and it sounds as though they are not getting that at the moment.

IME the focus always tends to be on the person who exhibits the behaviour and the rest of the family are not considered.

This has brought back unhappy memories for me, it is so important to consider everyone's needs.

Moxiegirl Mon 08-Jul-13 20:13:39

'Camhs have to consider the effect on your other dc'
<hollow laugh>
In my experience they will do no such thing.
Sorry you are having a tough time with your dd. I do think fines are harsh on parents who try their best to get their child to school.

3littlefrogs Mon 08-Jul-13 20:16:02

I know Moxiegirl.

Clearly things have not improved much then. sad

specialsubject Mon 08-Jul-13 21:36:00

pity that the workhouses or borstal are no longer options...

you need to get family on your side to stop them giving money.

staggered that she has friends, she sounds a nasty piece of work. Is there any way of getting the rest of the class to get involved - I know it is very Malory Towers but it is all I can think of. Send the school bully to Coventry..

sympathies to you. let's hope she grows out of it soon.

Minifingers Mon 08-Jul-13 21:39:06

Here's the thing special - she's nice to most people. Very nice. Kind. Empathetic. It's only her immediate family and about three of her teachers who she bullies and is difficult with. Go figure.

Nerfmother Mon 08-Jul-13 21:54:22

Oh god poor you. Ds has aspergers and very hard to reason with or persuade at times. Having someone say 'make me' - well, what can you do?
I totally get the needing to let the little ones sleep although luckily we are not at that stage.
I don't know what to suggest. I have told ds that unless he works no one will be paying for his electricity bills or food when he's a jobless adult. It works for him but all children have different motivators.
In your shoes I would probably focus on her weight. Is there any way it makes her reluctant or unhappy? And then I would try to create a special thing we did together that was dependent on attending school, even just meal planning and a wander round aldi.

AcrylicPlexiglass Mon 08-Jul-13 22:16:07

It sounds awful and she quite clearly has major problems. Poor. poor you. Have you already tried dragging her to school, kicking and screaming? Would the community police in your area come over and help you? Some of the ones I work with are brilliant with truancy.

3littlefrogs Mon 08-Jul-13 23:02:16

Would a talk from your local neighbourhood police person be an option?

I had a small incident with one of my DC and friends. Nothing too dreadful, but I got the local policeman (who is a lovely man) to come round and put the fear of God into them - in a kindly, but serious way, and it worked a treat. They were about 16 at the time.

I don't know OP - it sounds horrendous. I think the only thing that would work would be to remove your DD from her current comfort zone where she is in charge and calling all the shots, and place her somewhere where she has to conform. How you do that I don't know.

A work colleague sent her troubled teen to live with a relative hundreds of miles away. It worked. But the relative was on side and helpful. Can you think of anyone that would help?

sashh Tue 09-Jul-13 08:34:12

Could she quit school and home ed?

She sounds like a very bright and frustrated teenager, and it may well be she is not learning anything at school. And the things she really needs to learn before entering the work place, respect for teachers, doing things you don't want to she isn't learning is she?

Home ed, in reality, can be doing not very much.

The money could be used to pay for tutors if she is not keeping up with her studies. If she is bright and bored and it is practical to take her out of school then get her working on GCSEs by correspondence course (paid out of that £1k it will soon eat out of it).

I think it's too much to have in a jar, but a chart showing how much is being spent and that she can have what's left. BUT she has to get English, Maths and Science, if she doesn't then get her to resit, at her cost.

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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