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To have refused to take nephew out for the day?

286 replies

iz92 · 13/10/2022 12:00

Nephew is 15, y11, he hasn't done a full week at school this academic year with having one day off a week or attending one day and having the rest of the week off, he attended 4 days last week, had the Friday off and has so far had the whole of this week off, his parents don't seem to care, in their defence he did skip school Monday and Tuesday but yesterday he said he didn't want to go for no particular reason, and the same today. When he doesn't go he just stays in bed on his devices (which I wouldn't allow but I'm not his parent!).

Today, I'm going to take DD to a trampoline park, as she only attends nursery a few days a week and she's off today, his mum has asked if I can take him along as he'd enjoy it, I've said no as he should be at school and that'd be rewarding him for not attending and its half term soon so he can go then. BIL spoke to DH and DH has said I'm BU as I know nephew struggles with his anxiety which is probably why he isn't going, I disagree as yes I understand he has anxiety but I think he isn't going as he finds staying at home more fun.


OP posts:

ExtraOnions · 13/10/2022 13:38

God this is a depressing read.

DD missed the whole of Y10 & Y11 - anxiety, and undiagnosed ASD. The notion that you should be punishing these young people, or even “rewarding” attendance is on one hand ignorant, and on the other hand (if you have lived through this) laughable.

Educate yourselves folks

Even the term “school refuser” is unhelpful .. they aren’t “refusing” they are unable to go


ExtraOnions · 13/10/2022 13:39

Also … just wanted to include the text of this letter from the team of “not fine in school” - for those of you going through similar.

Dear family and friends

I hope that you are all well. I need to explain a few things to you, things that are central to the way we now live our life, things you may never have realised, things we have perhaps unwittingly or even deliberately hidden as we’ve sought to understand.

Our family life is fraught, it’s busy just like yours, we do sports, we go on holiday (sometimes short), have days out and celebrate events but we always ensure we plan, we have a plan A, a plan B and probably the most, a plan to respond to crises when the day just goes upside down.
You see, we are not being rude when we are vague in our replies to invitations, to evenings out or too enquiries about our children’s progress.
Every day for us is progress, little steps, as many backwards as we do forwards.

I thought life was made of milestones. It is.
Nursery, school, followed by uni and jobs and lots of adventures along the way.
Isn’t that how it is?
I’m not sure anymore.
I didn’t bargain for having to hold my child’s hand through some of the roughest terrain I’ve ever encountered.
I had no idea he was heading for a fall.
Sometimes there are clues along the way: struggles with uniform; shoes; homework; friendships and understanding, we brushed them off as part of ‘normal’ development, we’d get there in the end. You cannot tell the future, none of us can.

‘My child does not attend school.’
There, I’ve said it.

‘What?’ I hear you say, ‘I’d make them go.
How do you manage?
What do they do all day?
What do you mean, he can’t?
But, it’s not allowed… What about uni?
What about a job?

All the stuff that ‘normal’ kids do?

My child just can’t go to school, it’s hard to explain.
He cries, over time he’s screamed, he’s confused about it all.
Sometimes he’s poorly, sometimes so desperate he’s violent or hurts himself.
It’s difficult to unpick.
Reading’s hard, spelling’s worse.
Goodness, I don’t know where to start.
What is clear is that somewhere in there ‘school’ has made him ill and not being there has helped him to be better; to be calmer; to be able to think; to be able to talk more; to feel he’s safe.

‘Surely someone can help?’
I hear you say.
Where would you like me to start?
We tried the GP, they referred to CAMHS; the school nurse, I tried her too, along with the MP.
Well, sometimes they care, sometimes they just don’t have a clue, they are geared up for children who just keep on going.
They’ve tried to threaten with fines and punishments, sometimes persuasion and encouragement but I’m not sure they really know what to do.
My child just cannot cope with school.

Other people tell me to shout, to force, to drag out of bed: it so doesn’t work.
We just end up in a double meltdown, that’s him and me.
Counsellors claim to have the answers, therapies for this and for that, to support my child, to support me, to support the family but nothing stands out as succeeding.
I’ve learned to follow my gut, maybe that’s why you’ve never noticed.
It hurts that I can’t help my child, it’s hurting that no one knows how to help.
Maybe it’s just part of growing up.

‘Who else have you tried?’ I hear you ask.
Let’s see, Counsellors, Paediatricians, school staff and oh yes, we started with the SENCo at the school, you see, none of this works very well unless they see it for themselves.
I’ve become an expert at documenting every move; emails, letters they are all vital to our trail of evidence.
I’ve amazing friends online who are drifting in the same stormy seas, the numbers are scary but no one seems to realise.

‘Does he stay at home alone?’
Well, sometimes, sometimes not.
It’s tricky, it depends on age.
I used to work, we fought our way in to school, I juggled it all, until he could manage no more and we had to rely on texts and calls.
He wouldn’t answer the door and it worked for a while, but we had tears at night, we didn’t sleep, we’d try for school every morning.
I’d arrive at work frazzled and stressed, so, I don’t do that anymore.
I dropped the work, let’s face it, I couldn’t let my child fall.

So, what now?
I could be fined, I could be prosecuted, I could even face a prison term (now you know the worst..)
Will it happen?
We’re battling to gain support.
I have no idea, I live day to day and hope that someone might just help but I’ve realised nobody can force this.
What can I do?
Well, I look after my child, I fight their battles, I speak to school, to counsellors, to CAMHS, to doctors, to try to find a way through the maze that we have found ourselves in.
Above all else, I follow my child’s needs and slowly we have improved how he feels.

You asked me what you could do to help?
There are some things that could make such a difference:

Talk to me, come to the house, a cup of tea, a cup of coffee, it will help me to breathe (it’s certainly not catching).

Think about the behaviour you have witnessed from my child, can you help me unpick it?
I need to understand the triggers.
I know it’s not just a tantrum.

Listen to me, especially to my child; he just can’t manage school.
Attending other activities is still, perhaps more important, so yes, a playdate, sports, walks, a picnic, we’ll try to get there.

Remember my child is just a kid, he’s frightened and doesn’t know what to do.

Please avoid making judgments (plenty already are), consider how you would feel if it were you.
You might think of something which hasn’t yet struck me.

Getting back to school might not be the answer, ‘education’ does not always mean ‘school’, help us find the right fit.

If I have to give up on my hopes and dreams or even my job, for a while at least, support me, I’m doing what my child needs.
We’re a ship that’s gone off course and need to find our own route.

If I talk about alternative education; part-time school; flexi-school; Pupil Referral Units; online learning or even de-registration; ‘unschooling’ and elective home education, take an interest, smile and please don’t shake your head.

In finding a way to understand the labyrinth we are caught in, consider if you could be a witness to the way I parent my children; how proud we are of our successes and find some time to attend the myriad of meetings where I act as my child’s advocate, I’d be very grateful.

Being ‘Not Fine at School’ is hard. It’s reassuring to know that someone might take the time to understand.


GloriousGlory · 13/10/2022 13:40

@Quincythequince so you r decided from a second handed judgemental poster that you know the best course of action?

Are you involved in MH services for children?


Georgeskitchen · 13/10/2022 13:46

His anxiety is so crippling he can't leave the house to go to school but he can leave the house to go to the trampoline Park? Why can't his parents take him?


Iateallthechocolate · 13/10/2022 13:50

I would have refused, for different reasons. I would want to concentrate on a day out with my toddler. Maybe you can all go together another time with his parents? I also wouldn't be offering my opinion on their parenting, it never goes down well.


averythinline · 13/10/2022 13:51

I wouldn't take him either ....if his parents think hed like to go trampolining they can sort it..

Same for your dh...whats he doing to entertain/support his nephew?

You are not therapist for your dn...


Mochachocolatte · 13/10/2022 13:51

So many posters here just really don't get it.

Yes anxiety can be bad enough to not go to school but still be ok to go other places. Because its not just anxiety - it is a trauma response. School can be really bloody traumatic for some children especially if that school cannot meet a child's needs. It is no longer a safe space for that child to be. They do not feel safe. School 'refusal' is a survival instinct.


Spanielsarepainless · 13/10/2022 13:53

I wouldn't take him either. It's time for you and your child, not for some teen boy muscling in rather than go to school.


Quincythequince · 13/10/2022 13:54

GloriousGlory · 13/10/2022 13:40

@Quincythequince so you r decided from a second handed judgemental poster that you know the best course of action?

Are you involved in MH services for children?

I didn’t say I knew the best course of action, no.

But in light of what sounds like no other intervention and a child just playing on devices all day, he is being failed left, right and centre.

And I have experience with this (personally as well) and yes, I am familiar with children’s MH services (have had to deal with them both directly as a parent and a clinician (albeit a few years ago no professionally)).

I don’t think taking him is a reward, but the comments directed at the OP are far of the mark too!


Inertia · 13/10/2022 13:54

I fully understand how hard it is to parent teenagers with mental health issues. However, you need to be fully focussed on parenting your own toddler, and it isn’t fair for relatives to expect you to also take on responsibility for a teenager with severe mental health challenges at the same time. He needs a parent on hand too.


Badgirlriri · 13/10/2022 13:57

YANBU and I would have refused too.

Lots of assumptions on this post. Yes he has anxiety but how do we know he’s not just a kid who doesn’t want to go to school. There were plenty of them in my school.

Parents are raising a bunch of snowflakes these days. Allowing them to stay in their bedrooms all day and not pushing them to go out of their comfort zone is going to ruin their lives. Is that what you want for them as adults?! How are they going to work? Oh no theyre too anxious to work so they’ll just sit in their bedroom and claim universal credit. Depressing! Get help for your kids!


whumpthereitis · 13/10/2022 13:57

Do 15 year old boys generally want to hang out with their aunt and toddler cousin?

I wonder if it’s more a case of them volun-telling him to go rather than him actually wanting to go.


Minimalme · 13/10/2022 13:59

I'm surprised they asked you, given your views on their son and parenting.

It would be beyond awful for a teenager who is so anxious he would rather spend time alone than in school with friends, to be palmed off on someone who thinks he's lazy.

It's a good job you've made your views on anxiety really clear op.


Goingonab33hunt · 13/10/2022 14:00

Yabu. I have a son struggling with anxiety based school avoidance. It is SO hard to see him distressed and begging to be home educated because he feels unable to attend. It's not that he doesn't want to go, he can't cope in that environment due to his ASD. Outside of school he is happy and outgoing and loves spending time with family and friends. However I do have a couple of relatives with your kind of attitude. We just avoid them now.


Mummyoflittledragon · 13/10/2022 14:04

You’re still right at the beginning of the parenting journey op and blissfully clueless of what is to come. If you’re lucky, your dc won’t have an issue attending school. I know plenty of children, mostly teens, who have. Some have entered into the private sector. Others are now home Ed. More still are limping along like your dn, desperately needing support and a learning environment they can cope with, neither of which isn’t there.

We are lucky that we were able to pay for help for my dd when she was at the start of primary as she was seriously struggling to go to school and I had a great many ways of dealing with this, which would not work with an older child. As soon as dd was showing serious signs of being unhappy in state secondary, we had the funds to put into the private sector. She chose the new school and is very happy.


Realowlette · 13/10/2022 14:06

*Let’s be honest here, it’s generally not the children of people who value education who end up refusing to go.
This has to be the most smug and patronising post of today. You clearly have no idea about mental health, school refusal and the absolute anguish that many parents and children are going through on a daily basis.


mrsfeatherbottom · 13/10/2022 14:10

I'll just leave this here

To have refused to take nephew out for the day?

StressedToTheMaxxx · 13/10/2022 14:10

I wouldn't have taken him either.


Pythonesque · 13/10/2022 14:11

I think the problem here is that this boy's aunt is being asked to take him on an outing without any coherent sense of how this interacts with "what they are doing to help him back towards education". For something like this to make sense to a relative, the conversation needs to start several steps back.

eg anxiety about going to school is escalating into anxiety about leaving the house, it would be great if you could take him with you that day to remind him that going outside is ok"
or "the worst bit of school for him at the moment is PE - it would be so good for him to try trampolining instead"
or "he's really clammed up with us at home, won't talk to anyone. I wonder if you were to take him out with you and your DD, whether he might be more willing to open up with you"
[and my answer to that last one would be, well not the trampolining outing but maybe something else]

If the only conversation has been, you're going somewhere, great can you take DS with you (to give us a day without being responsible for him) ... well you definitely ANBU


dailyfup · 13/10/2022 14:12

You have no idea how bad his anxiety might be and what he feels like when faced with going to school. Some days are probably better than others which is why he can manage to go in sometimes but not all the time.
Hopefully he and his parents are getting support for this from the school and GP.
It's not as simple as just take his devices off him and send him in if he's really struggling with mental health.

However, YANBU not to take him to the trampoline park. His parents can do that if they think he would enjoy it. But I do think you should have held your tongue a bit there instead of what you did say, which sounds judgemental and I'm not surprised they were offended. Would have been better to say you wanted to spend the day with your toddler on your own and that you'd be in the toddler appropriate section of the trampoline park rather than the sections the 15 year old would be interested in, so he'd be pretty much left to his own devices unsupervised.


WillPowerLite · 13/10/2022 14:14

It's for his parents to worry if a day out trampolining is going to make his absenteeism better or worse. They clearly think it would be good for him; that's why they asked you.

YANBU to say no if nephew is a pain to deal with, or you just want time with dd and can't be asked.

YABU to refuse because you have your judgy pants yanked up so high that you can't see what's your business and what isn't.


Babyghirl · 13/10/2022 14:16

I agree with you, I would refuse aswell, he can't attent school because of his anxiety but can go to a trampoline park full of people with his anxiety, I know someone with anxiety could not attend school, but now old enough for bars and he out in packed bars every weekend.


RFPO77 · 13/10/2022 14:18

You have to wonder how bad his anxiety is if he's fine to go out on treat days but it's too bad to go to school 🤔


HowzAboutIt · 13/10/2022 14:18

Cw112 · 13/10/2022 12:11

You're being unreasonable. You had the opportunity to spend time, give him value, boost his confidence and resilience and instead you took it upon yourself to punish him because you decided he should be able to manage his anxiety and not managing it is something to be punished. His parents are obviously aware why he struggles and are doing their best to support him, might not be how you'd handle it but he's not your kid.

*spend time, give him value, boost his confidence and resilience"

Which strangely enough can all be done at the weekend if his parents (or he himself) are that bothered.

If at the weekend he choses to spend time with his aunt and pre-school cousin I'll eat my hat that would show that he really is struggling and needs help.

@iz92 You were right to decline - let your DH spend time with him if he cares so much


BirdsOfFeathers · 13/10/2022 14:20

iz92 · 13/10/2022 12:33

Yes, I know he is struggling with anxiety, but I do think some if it is due to him wanting to stay in bed on his devices as whenever BIL has taken his things in the past and has told him he needs to go to get them back, he goes the next day. I also don't think taking him somewhere fun will help him, as it is rewarding him for not going. I also wanted to have a nice afternoon spending time with just DD. DH is working so he cant take him, as is BIL.

I think there are lots of ways to look at this, and it's impossible to know what's most "correct" without being close to the boy in question.

Without any additional info, I'd be inclined to say take him. His parents know him best.

If he's suffering from anxiety, and potentially avoiding things which make him anxious (including school) by hiding away in bed on his devices, he's likely to also be feeling low in mood/generally rubbish. Staying in bed on his devices will make this worse in the long run. Physical activity and company could help him break out of it.

Having said that, if you'd be taking him reluctantly and wouldn't feel able to be positive and sociable with him, it's probably best not to.

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