A huge thank you to Eddie Nestor, of BBC Radio London Drivetime, who devoted more than half his programme yesterday to the topic of “children who hit their Mum.” You can catch the programme by following this link. The show is available till the end of May. Eddie starts off by interviewing Yvonne Newbold from about 1:21.00 and then takes calls from around 1:48:00.
With Yvonne’s particular area of expertise, the focus was on children with “special educational needs and disabilities”, but Eddie was keen to find out more about the wider reasons which might lead to children being violent. There was considerable treatment of the issues around traditional parenting, and the tendency to assume that parents just aren’t trying hard enough, but as Yvonne and several of the callers explained, in situations like this, traditional parenting techniques may have the effect of adding fuel to the fire; and if you’ve tried everything and it isn’t working, you have to try something else. Several of the callers had attended Yvonne’s seminars and were highly appreciative of the impact this had made on their family life. You can find out more about these courses via Yvonne’s website, or on Eventbrite. There was also acclaim for NVR as an approach to enable de-escalation and restoration of parental authority. Finally, Eddie spoke to Sarah Whalley of the Key Clinic exploring other issues behind the challenging behaviour of young people on the autistic spectrum.
Overall, there was a sense of how confusing people find this issue – the difficulty in believing it could be happening and that it can’t simply be solved by ‘parenting harder’, but also a real desire to find out more and to be able to offer hope to parents through the provision of answers and support. This is very much an interest of Eddie’s and he is keen to explore this taboo further in future programmes. Do look out for him, and add your voice if you can in raising awareness of the issues!
It would be so much easier if we could point to one clear cause of violence and abuse from children towards their parents. Once that was made obvious we could then wheel in bespoke solutions and solve the crisis in an instant. Sadly the reality is much different, with almost no end to the factors that might increase vulnerability, and often layer upon layer of complexity for families affected. Some situations get a (relatively) large amount of coverage: exposure to domestic violence and early childhood trauma for instance. Others are highlighted less often. While each family’s experience will be unique to them, there is much to learn from the experience of others, and the despair that is common to parents across the board.
Recently, Keri Williams posted on her blog a review of an HBO documentary, A Dangerous Son, a film about families with sons who have disorders giving rise to explosive and violent behaviour. (The trailer is available here if you are not in the US.) Psychology today also has a review of the film, and in interview with the featured parents. Both draw attention to the blog written by Liza Long shortly after the Sandy Hook tragedy, Thinking the Unthinkable, which inspired the Director of the documentary, Liz Garbus.
The 90-minute film features three mothers who struggle immensely to find proper help for their emotionally disturbed sons. Audience members who had never dealt with children facing severe mental illness described the piece as heartbreaking and difficult to watch. However, parents of mentally ill children displayed a very different reaction; they felt a sense of validation and hope. They believe that this film could serve as the first major step in changing the public’s judgmental perception of children with mental illness and their families. Parents should be supported, rather than shamed, by their communities. (Psychology Today)
The hope is that the film draws attention to the needs of families for help, the misunderstandings around childhood mental health, the paucity of provision for young people, and the difficulties in accessing help.
Keri invites comments on her blog in response to her post. As always, you are welcome to join in the conversation here as well.
I am breaking my silence.
I am breaking my silence for any person who is a stepparent, and they are living in a dangerous situation at the hands of their stepchildren.
I am breaking my silence because I know what it is like to scourer the internet trying to find someone or some resource to signal that I was not alone.
So begins a post from Dr Sam Kline. You can read the rest of the post here, and there is the promise of a follow up on her site in a week or so. You will recognise many of her comments: Continue reading
My life now is radically different … But I still can’t sleep. Putting my child into care was searingly painful. I am often paralysed by recriminations, guilt and despair.
The words of a parent, writing in the Observer this last weekend, in a long, tender and heartwrenching piece about her experience of abuse and violence from her teenage son. Tom’s violent behaviour was thought to come from his acute frustration, communication difficulties and problems regulating his emotions, due to a range of diagnoses. It included actual violence to his mother and siblings, damage to property, and controlling behaviours which took over the life of the family, making a normal existence well nigh impossible. The writer, Lesley Clough, describes calling the police on numerous occasions, and the good support of local DV services, but ultimately the impossibility of finding any solution other than her son’s move out of the home and into care. Continue reading
Do you like your art calming and reflective, or maybe you enjoy the challenge of something complex and abstract? For thousands of years, artists have used their work to comment on the human condition, and to explore ideas of power, truth, and reality. Nevertheless, you might be thinking, “but what can art tell us about child to parent violence?”
What I like about any new way of looking at things is that the questions are slightly different, the insights often trip us up and change the direction of our thoughts, and we can be left with new questions that we hadn’t even thought of before! So I was excited to come across artist, Sophie Cero on twitter and to hear about her work exploring child and adolescent violence towards parents. Sophie kindly agreed to be interviewed for Holes in the Wall. Continue reading
I am pleased to post this guest blog from a parent who would like to be known as Sam. Sam is passionate in her campaigning to get better understanding for women who have experienced domestic abuse. She is active on twitter, and has written previously for other people, as well as managing her own blogsite. Sam has a story to tell about the impact on children of living wth domestic violence, the way in which this can be replicated by children once the abusive parent has left, and the long term effects of this for all concerned. Her contribution is also pertinent because of findings across the world of the prominence of the experience of domestic abuse as a contributory factor in child to parent violence.
I am a parent who has been subject of child to parent violence (CPV) and a woman who is domestic abuse victim. I am not a professional, but have vast lived experience of abuse. CPV obviously has a number of roots and in this post I will explain from my viewpoint one of them. Continue reading