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I'm sure I'll be told this isn't bad enough for SS report but...

(79 Posts)
HomeJames Mon 16-Nov-15 17:17:51

What would you do?

Family member has a somewhat chaotic lifestyle that is impacting on her children. I and other family members have offered help/support but all has been rebuffed as attempts to 'get at her' 'make her feel bad' and 'interfere'. Her usual lines are 'I just don't have the same standards as you/ don't need to be held to your impossibly high standards' or 'I have a different lifestyle but the kids are happy enough'.

She split with the children's dad 2 years ago. Since then, she has had three boyfriends with overlap or a very short gap between relationships starting/ending. The children are introduced to the men straight away and two of them have been moved in to the family home after a month or so. The first one was nice enough. The second was a drug user and we suspected domestic violence. There was definitely a lot of screaming and rowing because neighbours kept telling us about it. We asked them to call the police if they heard anything but they never did, so no opportunities for authorities to get involved that way.

The latest one might be OK, we won't be introduced to him until he moves in probably. She picks the children up every afternoon from after-school club then takes them to his for tea and they sometimes stay the night there. Both children are behind at school and the older one is supposed to attend an early 'catch-up' class most mornings. Because they are out with the boyfriend or at other friends house most nights they have late bedtimes and little time to do any homework. They are also late for school quite often, so none of this helps with their learning. Between us, we're taking it in turns to do the odd pick-up/ breakfast at ours to offer some stability and a decent bedtime, but it's confusing for the children and not always possible with other caring and work responsibilities. We are also starting to worry that we are enabling the behaviour.

Finally, I suspect she may be using drugs herself. When the last boyfriend was living there, I popped over one night (kids all in bed) and they were both stoned and offered me drugs. I don't know if she is still doing this with the new boyfriend, but it might explain some of her mystery 'illnesses' where she cannot get home or get the kids to school and calls on help, and she has lost lots of weight.

House is filthy and smells, but probably not bad enough to be on social services radar. The children don't seem unhappy but they do seem confused about who all these men are, and don't seem to know whether they're coming or going with no routine. I think they're missing out a bit on their education, but perhaps neither of them is behind enough or has SN idenitified, so they're under the radar.

Like I say, we have all offered help, but think the time has come to stop enabling the behaviour because it hurts to watch it. I see a lot of threads on here where SS is suggested but there is a backlash of 'you clearly don't live in the real world, SS have real problems to deal with'. What other options do we have now? School, NSPCC. Kids are too old to be on health visitor radar.

TimeToMuskUp Mon 16-Nov-15 17:24:11

I think that as a family member (unless you have some sort of dreadful vendetta, in which case ignore what I'm about to say) that you should report your concerns. It might not seem 'enough' to you, but how bad should it be allowed to get before she accepts help?

I don't believe everyone who struggles with their children needs to have them removed, and nor do I believe that a chaotic home will ruin a child's life. I do, however, believe that if you see a family together and have a gut feeling that something isn't quite right, that you should report it. Agencies often don't seem to act on tiny reports but they can use them to build up a bigger picture of what's going on. Sometimes minor reports can add enough weight to situations to warrant them stepping in and offering support. That's never a bad thing.

Brocklady Mon 16-Nov-15 17:29:52

I think if in doubt about whether you should report or not, report flowers

Unreasonablebetty Mon 16-Nov-15 17:37:52

It doesn't sound good to be honest.
Can you explain to her that this isn't just your impossibly high standards? The things you are talking about are simple things social services would be interested in seeing her sort out.
The school will be taking note of lateness, and the fact that homework isn't done, and if her house smells then the children would also smell, it sounds- albeit mildly- a neglectful environment for the children to be in.
Is there any chance you might be able to convince her that it is in her children's best interests to sort herself out?
She also shouldn't be smoking drugs in the household that the children live in. Can she not poke her head out the back door whilst she does it if she must?

If that doesn't work I would suggest going into the school and seeing if the head will assist in making her life align with the needs of her children. You'd be surprised at how much they will gauge about the children's life out of school, they could be your most helpful ally in making sure the children are taken care of as they should be.
They will also be aware of if its at the point where SS need to be involved.

wizzywig Mon 16-Nov-15 17:38:30

Id report it.

CrohnicallyAspie Mon 16-Nov-15 17:41:06

Yes, school can be very supportive of children with chaotic home lives and are usually the first rung in the SS ladder- meetings where sw, parents and school staff put support in place for the children and family, with agreed actions for the parents to take. This could be anything from attending a parenting course, help with applying for benefits/grants if they are in financial difficulties, head teacher phoning half an hour before school starts to check everyone is up, giving breakfast at school if parents are struggling for time/money...

TaliZorah Mon 16-Nov-15 17:47:30

Sounds judgemental. She's had a few boyfriends and gets "stoned", and her kids aren't A* pupils. Doesn't sound like she isn't looking after her kids though.

Id leave it

Beebar Mon 16-Nov-15 17:47:21

Hmmm... This is a hard one. Sounds dysfunctional to say the least. My dh grew up in a similar sort of environment and I wish someone had intervened. But will going into care be any better? Will the mother actually get herself together for her dc with help from ss?

CrohnicallyAspie Mon 16-Nov-15 17:51:06

The threshold for going into care is actually appalling, they don't take children away from parents unless they absolutely have to, meaning the child is in serious danger of losing their life if they aren't taken into care.

If the family member's lifestyle isn't impacting on the kids then no action will be taken. If it is (And it sounds like it is because the children don't know who's picking them up, where they're going to sleep/eat that night, and are frequently late for school) then she will be offered help and support to make sure the children are safe and happy.

shutupanddance Mon 16-Nov-15 17:58:07

I'd contact ss or nspcc for advice. I am judging. I dont get introducing boyfriends hardly knows to her dcshmm i don't get taking drugs when you have dcs never mind when they ate around.

SomedayMyPrinceWillCome Mon 16-Nov-15 17:59:47

Could you talk to the school?
Chances are the school have concerns themselves based on your OP. They may not be able to disclose their concerns to you but they may be receptive to hearing your concerns. This may help the school build a picture of what is going on in these children's lives and you could then have the conversation with the school about "escalating" your concerns.

shutupanddance Mon 16-Nov-15 18:00:22

The lack of homework and routine doesnt matter.

TremoloGreen Mon 16-Nov-15 18:01:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Unreasonablebetty Mon 16-Nov-15 18:03:33

Please keep us updated on what happens please OP.
I hope everything goes ok for this family.

HomeJames Mon 16-Nov-15 18:04:36

It's not judgemental to think that introducing a series of boyfriends, some of whom have substance abuse and anger issues, to your kids is not appropriate.

I must live on a different planet if it is.

Micah Mon 16-Nov-15 18:10:56

I'd report I think. Just your concerns she is struggling, and ask if there's any help she can access before things deteriorate.

It might be worth seeing if anything the HV/school nurse team can do. Ring GP and ask where the School nurse team is located.

Can you speak to the school? I'd make an appt with the head/deputy, again outline your concerns, and say you are worried and wanted to bring the chaotic homelife to attention, just in case.

MilkTwoSugarsThanks Mon 16-Nov-15 18:19:30

Contact the NSPCC.

They are really helpful and are probably better placed to decide if it's bad enough for SS.

They were really good when I called them, listened, and decided that further action was necessary. They then contacted the relevant people.

The children were not removed, the mother was given guidance and help and the children seem much happier and are doing better.

So personal experience makes me recommend that route.

Good luck.

ohtheholidays Mon 16-Nov-15 18:21:17

Please report it OP.

I used to teach,worked with SS in the past and worked within safe guarding children.

The drug use and involvement very quickly of men with her children that she might not know very well can lead to abuse happening to the children within they're own home without the mother noticing.

Sadly as well alot of the cases in the past of very serious abuse where the mother has also been involved the mother had had a very unstable home life.People like this sadly are usually the one's that are easier for abusers to groom into ignoring or helping with serious abuse of they're own child/children.

I'm not saying this is what's happening here or that it will happen but it is a very serious risk to be aware of.

20applepies Mon 16-Nov-15 18:21:29

I am surprised that the school have not reported these concerns to SS. The situation is impacting on the children and you need to report your concerns to SS and let them assess the situation.

ElderlyKoreanLady Mon 16-Nov-15 18:27:23

This is a bit of a tough one. It sounds like there are many factors that are fairly poor but possibly not poor enough that they'd quite warrant SS involvement. The most serious thing is the drugs but (as hard a truth as this is for some) there are plenty of parents who smoke weed, and even plenty who SS know smoke it. Many, myself included, don't see it as being any worse than drinking (though I don't smoke it myself).

Other than that, most of this could just be seen as having a chaotic lifestyle and not being a very clean person. And of course, not putting her children ahead of her love life. None of which are really anything to do with SS unless they're on the more extreme end of things.

There was a similar issue in my family a few years ago. Between those of us who were worried, we encouraged the DM rather than berated her. It's not been 100% successful (she still smokes weed and goes through men like most of us do knickers) but her child does now have a better routine, the house is cleaner, she only smokes weed after her child is asleep and the men are no longer invited to move in.

I'd personally keep my eye on things while trying to be encouraging. But if anything suggested the children were being neglected or were in danger, I'd call SS without hesitation.

ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Mon 16-Nov-15 18:30:46

TaliZorah once again you come on a thread with genuine concerns about children's wellbeing a minimise the concerns. I know you have an axe to grind about so called persecution of parents with mental health difficulties but sometimes children need protection from their parents lifestyles.

DannyFishcharge Mon 16-Nov-15 18:42:06

Ring the NSPCC. They are brilliant and will decide if it needs to be passed to Social Services or not.

AliceMum09 Mon 16-Nov-15 18:46:05

I'd be phoning somebody, for the sake of the children.

Devora Mon 16-Nov-15 18:50:46

I really wish posters would stop thinking that the bar for involving social services should be 'child must be taken into care immediately'. This family won't be anywhere near the bar for child removal, but it does sound like they need help.

TaliZorah Mon 16-Nov-15 19:27:40

Obsidian I just gave my opinion. My opinion is that there isn't an issue and OP is being precious because it isn't a nuclear family with perfect swot children. I don't like SS that's right, and I feel on mn they're mentioned every time a house has a hair out of place.

She's perfectly free to ignore my opinion!

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