Being a parent is hard. It is one of the hardest things you will ever have to do. It’s also the most rewarding and it flies by really quickly, but whilst you’re in the middle of the challenges it can seem never-ending.
It is also isolating. When you become a parent you can lose friends but gain new ones. Whether you keep your old friends or make new ones, it can still be hard to keep in touch and spend time with them, especially as children get older and make their own friends and their own plans.
When you have a child which, for whatever reason, has behaviour problems, it can be even more isolating. You dread taking the child out into public as you are never sure what their behaviour will be like and you feel like such a terrible parent and that everyone is judging you and your parenting skills.
I live in Gwynedd and until next month we have been lucky to have family support services ran by Barnardo’s Caban Back Family Support Services.
For us as a family, dealing with my anxious teens‘ behaviour and insecurities and school avoidance, they have been a lifeline. They have offered advocacy and support services through Gyda’n Gilydd, father support to help hubby bond with our anxious teen and to help understand him better and to understand where he is coming from and that he can’t just tell him to “man up” and expect him to get over his anxiety and depression. They have also offered us parenting course, including mindfulness for parents.
Parenting courses sound scary and make you feel like you must be a bad parent cos surely only bad parents need to go on them. But that is not the case and they can be really helpful, especially if you are dealing with challenging behaviour and you want more ideas to help you manage their behaviour successfully.
I suffer from anxiety myself and I hate social situations, yet whenever I have gone on a parenting course I have found, once I’ve gotten over my initial nervousness and shyness, that I have gained a lot. I have gained confidence in speaking about the challenges I face but also about challenges that I have dealt with successfully or where I have failed. I have also made friends, gotten a fresh perspective on my child’s behaviour and gotten some tips and tricks to deal with something that maybe I didn’t originally see as a problem.
When your children are young, there seems to be plenty of advice available, from the health visitor to other groups and online support. But once your children are older and enter secondary school, this is when the really challenging behaviour begins! Yet, this is also when you lose a lot of support and you don’t know where to go for help or how to deal with this challenging stage of their lives as puberty, hormones and the teenage brain kick in and your previously placid and helpful child becomes a raving lunatic full of attitude and opinions!
Sadly, from next month, Barnardo’s will no longer be offering Family Support Services in Gwynedd as they have lost the tender despite having successfully supported families in Gwynedd for several years.
The new company have a completely new idea of how to support families and personally I can’t help but think their ideas are for the worst and have left me worried about the support and help we will be recieving as a family. Not only are they not going to run anymore parenting courses, as they don’t believe that courses and groups are beneficial and that one-to-one support will be better, they are also reducing the staff from 8 down to 3! So how are 3 staff members going to be able to provide one-to-one support to all the families who need it, I don’t know!
In fact, this has me so worried I have even written to my local MP about the changes.