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to be surprised just how hard life is for some children/families?

(162 Posts)
SchoolNameChanger Fri 08-Feb-13 17:49:01

When my Dc were small I was working f-t and not really involved in their school life. Now I'm working p-t in their school.

I has come as a huge shock to me just how difficult life is for lots of families. From my financially comfortable, stable family life I just had no idea.

The child who is completely uncontrollable is actually a victim of child abuse and now living with foster carers.

The mother who doesn't manage to dress for the school run spent the night with severely disabled child and alcoholic father.

The boy who is regularly violent to others learnt that behaviour from his mother's boyfriend/grandfather/older brother.

The poor attendance is because the child has to get himself up and out while mum sleeps off her hangover.

Or because he's caring for seriously ill parents in another way.

Being asked for £10 for a school trip is make or break for lots of families.

Obviously I knew there were some people with really difficult circumstances, but I have been surprised at the sheer number of them. Also blush the way that "poor parenting" always has a reason behind it. The vast majority of parents do care and are doing their best, some have unbelievable things to deal with and/or no experience of what good parenting is.

Also most of the "difficult" children have experienced things that "normal" children could never imagine. We sometimes see people here talk about others' bad behaviour, but there is almost always an understandable reason for it, if only we knew (which we never will)

MyDarlingClementine Wed 13-Feb-13 19:42:11

Emotional neglect far worse than a shorter pair of trousers.

scottishmummy Wed 13-Feb-13 19:27:32

decent but financially poor people are demonised and presumed to be dysfunctional
yiu know what not all folk getting by are to be pitied or to be held up as wpuld be artists
the working classes are frequently misrepresented.fwiw I grew up in a scheme, skint family but fantastic childhood

somewherewest Tue 12-Feb-13 21:38:18

Not all poor children with parents on benefits are unhappy or badly treated.

I spent part of my childhood living with outwardly 'respectable' parents in an affluent area. Behind closed doors my mother was an unstable alcoholic physically and emotionally abused by my stepfather and I was messed up and neglected. The rest of my childhood was spent with my benefits-dependent grandparents on a rough council estate, but they cared for me in a way that my 'parents' never did.

diabolo Tue 12-Feb-13 21:00:58

Some of our poorest families produce the brightest, nicest, cleanest, most intelligent children we have. Sadly lots of them have never been out of the County we live in and have no desire to do so. I ache for the lack of aspiration in their lives. Even though many are capable of going to University, it doesn't even figure on their radar and nothing we say as a school seems to impact on that.

Some of our few m/c families are the ones most in need of Family Support Workers, with their children needing a few lessons in empathy and manners. Nastiness abounds where there are a huge % on FSM and who get help with their uniform costs. Some m/c children have many material possessions their peers don't have, but little love or guidance.

Neglect does not belong exclusively to the poor. Doing my current role has really opened my eyes to that. But I do see many cases where parental choice on how to spend what little money the family has, DOES impact, massively.

Amber - I've asked around - roll-ups and cheap bottles of strong cider are his drugs of choice. Just so you know.

Goodtalkingtoo Sun 10-Feb-13 18:08:17

Not all poor children with parents on benefits are unhappy or badly treated.
Not all neglected children grow into neglecting parents
Not all wealthy, working parents know how to be good parents.
Just because a child turns up at school with trousers too short doesnt mean that they had no dinner the night before. Maybe mum chose a healthy meal over
New trousers

Neglect comes from all walks off life, and regardless of how sheltered an upbringing, to say you didn't realise other people had such struggles means a lot of people are walking around with their eyes closed.

To help these children people from all walks of life need to open their eyes and look around on ground level not from their high horses

Jamillalliamilli Sun 10-Feb-13 11:16:26

If I have to choose then YABU to be surprised, but I can’t work out why being loved and cared for would make people so un empathic and detached from reality that it would come as a surprise.

I find this idea that you can’t give or work out what to give, what you didn’t have, hugely offensive. I’ve never read a misery book and don’t want to, but do the people who write them say that?

I honestly don’t want to be rude to anyone but are people really so detached from half of society that they have to read misery lit to understand other people’s lives?

amillionyears Sat 09-Feb-13 23:18:38


PickledInAPearTree Sat 09-Feb-13 23:16:55

She has all the biographies of serial killers too

PickledInAPearTree Sat 09-Feb-13 23:16:13

There was not one normal book in there mine were up in my room.

I had a date once and I saw him look at them with fear!

amillionyears Sat 09-Feb-13 23:13:28

Yes, I read the kid and the dave pelzer ones..and some more but I dont want to upset ssd!
Dont think I read the one where the daughter kept getting operated on.

I think the one I stopped on was the ugly book and the one after that. Because her mum claimed it was untrue. I think that case went to court, and it was the daughter who was found to be telling the complete truth, and not the mum.

For some reason, it it making me smile thinking of you sharing a flat with a social worker, and you reading her misery books on her shelf. She might/must have had loads of them!

PickledInAPearTree Sat 09-Feb-13 23:02:20

I can't remember those ones.

I read the kid and the dave pelzer ones.. There was an awful one she had where the mother moved around and kept getting the daughter operated on. Awful stuff.

amillionyears Sat 09-Feb-13 22:58:13

What about the Torey ones?
I assume, hopefully correctly, that they are true?
Someone on MN last week or so was saying that the Torey books are popular reading for teenagers, which I thought was nice actually.

amillionyears Sat 09-Feb-13 22:56:42

Perhaps the earlier ones weren't, and some later ones were?
Fairly easy to make up I suppose.
I agree, that is sad.

PickledInAPearTree Sat 09-Feb-13 22:52:01

I was just about to say a million I have heard some are made up..

I flat shared with a social worker and our book shelf was miserable viewing I've read lots of them too.

Not sure which are supposed to me made up but that's sick isnt it.

amillionyears Sat 09-Feb-13 22:39:55

ok ssd, best if I do I expect.

porridgewithalmondmilk Sat 09-Feb-13 22:36:29

penelope - I appreciate that but again, have to say that therefore I do not think flinging more money at the problem will solve the problem. As has already been highlighted here middle class families can be abusive too, and there are many more ways to not meet a child's needs than not to feed them or keep them warm. In fact in some ways neglect is the easiest of the four key areas of abuse as it tends to be something a child is lacking that can be (relatively easily) provided - unfortunately it tends to come hand in hand with the other forms of abuse too.

ssd Sat 09-Feb-13 22:33:43

amillionyears, keep away from those awful books, seriously

PenelopePisstop Sat 09-Feb-13 22:33:06

porridge if nobody prioritised feeding you when you were a child why would you think that was a priority for your own child. The sad fact is that some people had no proper parenting themselves so have no idea how to do it. It seems the most obvious thing in the world when you have been brought up in family that puts their children first. But it's also the obvious thing the other way around.

poppypebble Sat 09-Feb-13 22:30:04

Poverty doesn't stop people being good parents. I grew up in poverty myself and was loved and had everythingI needed. Neglect and abuse happen in all social classes. The girl who goes home to drug addicts is poor, yes, and SS don't care even though her attendance record at school is less than 60 %. They sat through the CAM where her parents turned up 30 minutes late and unable to participate because they were giggling constantly and then said 'nothing for us to get involved with'.

It is a very mixed intake where I work and I two of the children in my form considered 'vulnerable' have middle-class parents who just don't give a shit. One was left alone whilst the parents went on holiday (12 years-old) and another has a largely absent father and a mother who drinks (and turns up to parents evenings drunk and demanding).

amillionyears Sat 09-Feb-13 22:29:30

scottishmummy, Have you read any of it?
Like I said I used to read it when it first came out.
But then there were loads of them, and you could almost guess what was going to be in them. And I think, it was revealed that some writers were actually making it up or at the very least, embellishing or somewhat copying.

But yes, they do offer some insight imo.

PickledInAPearTree Sat 09-Feb-13 22:22:08

I was about to say the same Kim.

porridgewithalmondmilk Sat 09-Feb-13 22:21:24

I don't think more money is what is needed to solve this particular problem. If I had as little as £10 a week I would prioritise feeding my child above anything else. The problem is a mindset not a financial issue. I wouldn't describe my political leanings as conservative but I am in favour of benefit reform.

kim147 Sat 09-Feb-13 22:20:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

scottishmummy Sat 09-Feb-13 22:18:09

good grief I hope you're not recommending all that awful misery lit as good read
the sepia pictures and ghastly titles, I find it incomprehensible people read that stuff

PenelopePisstop Sat 09-Feb-13 22:15:10

I am frontline and agree with all the teaching staff on this thread.

It looks like it 's not just my area where Social Services are shockingly poor. Have we any SW's on here? Maybe they could explain why they don't appear to do anything until something really shit happens.

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