Sunday, 1 June 2008

Parenting orders - are they practical?

I was all for blaming parents for their unruly children. I used to believe that no matter what, a parent should be able to control a child. Surely by grounding the kid and stopping their pocket money a parent had the upper hand?

I found out the hard way that I was sorely mistaken.

A year ago my 14 year old daughter was in one of the top classes at her school. She had been forecast to get good results in her GCSEs and she was generally well behaved. Then she starting mixing with the wrong crowd. Over the space of a month she turned abusive, came home late and started drinking and smoking cannabis.

Obviously I did what any good parent would do. I talked to her. When that failed I grounded her and stopped her pocket money. That seemed to work for a while but eventually I would let her out and she would do it all over again. Even without money she would still get booze and drugs from her so called friends. This turned into a battle, but I knew eventually I would win and she would come to her senses.

I was wrong again. My daughter upped the anti.

After another grounding she went out and did not come home. Eventually I found out she was staying at a friends house. I went round there to pick her up and she refused to get in the car. I tried to drag her into it but she started swearing and screaming. I realised that I could not get her in the car without seriously hurting her, so I went home to call the police.

Over two hours later (near midnight) I called the police again as I had not heard back from them. It was then that I realised that I was on my own. The police informed me that they had been round to see my daughter, checked that she was safe and told me that they did not have the power to bring her home. I was astounded and as you can guess, extremely worried about my daughter and very stressed.

At that point I rang the social services and they told me they could do nothing, but they would go round to check on my 14 year old daughter in 28 days. So there I was, totally and utterly unable to protect my daughter or control her actions. By the way, the house she was staying at was the house she was getting her drugs from. I'm sure the police knew this but that did not seem to them to make it an unsafe place for my daughter to be.

I ended up in hospital with chest pains, which turned out to be down to stress. Luckily after two weeks my daughter came home with her tail between her legs. But she knows that she can walk out and there's not a damn thing I can do about it.

A year on, and her behaviour has improved and it looks like she may pass her exams. But by God it has been a hard year.

So when the government say blame the parents, they need to consider what situation parents have been put in by ridiculous legislation. They have taken all of the rights away from adults and given them to the kids, and they then expect us to control them.

This is not all down to poor parenting, some of it is down to poor governmental policy. It is time to give parents the support they need instead of blaming them. Don't get me wrong there are some bad parents but some are just struggling to control their children with no help from the authorities.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device


Andrew Allison said...

You have been through the ringer, Steve. Yours is the nightmare every parent dreads. The problem with government legislation is that the pendulum swings from one extreme to the other. A few years ago, a child who was being physically abused would have been taken back home and put in danger. Now - even when there are no allegations of abuse or mistreatment - the parent can't do anything to get their child back. The law is a complete mess.

I hope your daughter is back on track for good this time and I wish her every success when she sits her GCSEs.

Daily Referendum said...

Cheers Andrew,

Fingers crossed she'll get the GCSEs required to get her on the Animal Management course she wants to do.

Anonymous said...

A depressing story, except that it is not a story but real life. Commiserations and we would all hope it is a matter now truly in the past. But the lesson is there and your message is eloquent.

Bill Haydon said...

Steve - what a shocking story. I hope things carry on with their improvement!

Daily Referendum said...

Cassius, Tin Drummer,

Cheers Gents. Things are improving slowly and hopefully that will gather speed when she goes to college and starts to mix with a better crowd.