To Ring Social Services?(8 Posts)
I'm not sure if this is the right place to post this but I need some viewpoints.
I have a 4 year old step son, he is as a result of a one night stand my partner had with the child's mum before we were together. We care for the child every Wednesday after school and Friday through to Sunday evening and we've just finished Court proceedings which gave us extensive holiday contact - all agreed to by the mother.
When he is with us SS is a happy, carefree and settled little boy who interacts really well with other children. We have had some concerns in the past about the level of care he was getting with his Mum but he seemed ok and we're aware that just because she parents differently doesn't mean we are right and she is wrong. We also wanted to try and build a stable relationship with her for the sake of SS.
This year though the school has started to make us really concerned, he was in nursery in the same school last year with no issues, this year he has destroyed a bathroom twice, he has pushed other children, the teacher says he can be tearful and appears like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders, he's distracted in class, the other day he bit one child, pushed another of a child and slapped 2 others and yesterday we got a phone call saying there's been another incident and we've to meet with the school later. We do not understand, the child they are describing to us is not like the child we know. The situation with his Mum appears to be getting worse, he's regularly sent to school without his teeth brushed, he can't remember when he was last washed by her, all he seems to eat is takeaway food and he's chronically constipated, he watches adult tv, watches a lot of tv in general, he doesn't play outside or with other children and she will not take him to any extracurricular activities, he comes out with strange phrases and it's clear he's being coached, there were previous issues about him being late to school, she keeps him off school for very minor ailments and has previously lied about taking him to the doctors, her house has really dirty, sticky floors, plates always overflowing and dirty, clothes everywhere and she's moved house 6 times in 4 years and on the last occasion didn't inform the school or doctors.
Should we ring social services? We don't want to be malicious but we are genuinely really concerned now. It's just such a serious thing to do. She wasn't given the best childhood herself and we think she just isn't aware of the level of care he should get.
Advice please and I promise this is nothing vindictive to take him off her etc. (Sorry for the length)
Hi, I am step parent to my partner's two boys (although they are older and we don't have them as often as you). Their mum has diagnosed mental health issues, and there was a time when I became concerned in many of the ways you describe. It sounds daft but the best thing to do is get organised and document ALL examples of poor care, school feedback, strange things he says, strange / unacceptable things mum says/does. This way if you have to speak to SS you have evidence. The worst thing would be to make a report with no hard facts, which all comes to nothing and causes animosity between you and the mum. I would say monitor closely for a period of time, document everything and then make a decision. It might be that talking to her, particularly about the diet/constipation thing (as I am sure she wouldn't want to knowingly be making her son unwell) will help but if not my gut feeling is that SS should get involved if this doesn't work.
Nearly 2 years ago DSD flagged up issues concerning her mums alcohol abuse. DH got straight in touch with the DSCs school, who then got in touch with social services (upshot is DCs now live with us full time and rarely see their Mum, it transpired she had worse problems than anyone realised). Your DP should ask for a meeting with your DSSs class teacher and head, where you can discuss your concerns. The school then have an obligation to contact SS if they have concerns regarding the safeguarding of your DSS. Hopefully, they will investigate properly and talk to everyone involved with DSSs care to work out how to move forward with this. In our case this included me and Grandparents as well as teachers, parents and SS. Good luck.
On the other-hand, it seems that he has been through a lot of disruption in his few short years. If there has been a court case and variations to access, that could just as easily be the reason for disruptive behaviour in school - especially if expectations in one house are very different to those in the other and the relationship between parents is strained or hostile. You now have him almost half the week, so I'm not sure why you are assuming his disruptive behaviour in school must be down to care at his mums. Please consider your own behaviour too - e.g. are you questioning him about being washed, what he eats at mums, etc.? He's young, but not too young to sense your disapproval. If mum's standards of care are not up to yours, that's one thing, but the disruptive behaviour is more likely to be linked to high levels of disruption in other areas of his life and the hostility between parents.
Firstly I would meet and discuss with school, they can advise if there is any difference in behaviour the night he stays with you, they should also be able to advise of any concerns regarding his appearance when he comes to school. School is your starting point, they can sign post you from there.
All of these emotional issues could also be explained as being from the luving in two homes tbh. It is interesting that you lay the fault with mum.
Massive thank you to everyone. We've spoken to a family friend based in child protection to get some advice and they recommended the same as you Gemcmu so we are going to start keeping a closer record. School were not able to organise a meeting with Mum but are going to try again this week so hopefully that reveals and helps a bit more. lizzij4 we never question him but we are concerned that the two different set of rules are confusing him. We've outlined the contact arrangements clearly to the school who weren't aware previously and we're going to monitor things closely with the help of the school over the next while. One of those things that you just have a gut feeling over but I'm a are how hard it is to prove. Just want the best for him. Thanks again for the help everyone, really appreciate it.
Yes it's interesting that you don't consider the effect of the general upheaval in his life - which sounds huge - how recent is it that he's been with you once a week and every weekend? Why every weekend (unless I've misunderstood) - surely the norm is every other weekend? If it is every weekend, that is maybe too much time away from his mum? If it is a recent thing that he's gone from mum having majority care to you doing a 50/50 which involves him being away from his mum every weekend, and being in school on other days, then I am not surprised that he is showing distress. And it won't be because his mum is neglecting him but because he is just not spending enough time with the person who is ultimately his primary attachment figure.
It's hard to advise because it's clear that you have an agenda. It may be wholly positive, in that you absolutely believe he's being neglected - or it may be less so. For example, you say she's moved 6 times in 4 years - my first assumption would be that she's privately renting and hasn't had the option not to, but it's presented here as just another exmaple of fecklessness. How does she manage for money? Is there no maintenance being paid now that he is with you for more of the week? How do you know the situation with tv/takeaway food/teeth? (my first thought here too is that there are plenty of people who brush teeth before breakfast, it's actually very bad for your teeth to eat and then brush them immediately as you'd often have to do if you did it the other way around on a school morning).
Sorry if this seems negative but your first post is very anti-mum.
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