It’s hard to imagine a new beginning – especially when life has a familiar routine; one that has continued for many years.
For 15 years, I worked with some of the most complex and vulnerable families in our society. I then decided to become a foster carer for vulnerable teenagers. Suddenly, I had to put into practice strategies that I had encouraged parents to adopt – the ones laid out in our book ‘Parenting a violent child’. It wasn’t easy. I learnt that if I allowed my emotions to take over all was lost. As long as I could stay calm there was a chance for these young people. Of course, for a lot of them, the act of coming to stay with me for a short time wasn’t going to have much of an impact. I soon realised what I had, perhaps, always known – that it starts at home. For many of these young people their patterns were set and the system appeared to be against them.
So, a year ago I decided I needed a change. I stopped fostering, let out my house, got rid of most of my possessions and moved into a static caravan on a friend’s land.
Life has become simpler and things that I used to place great importance in no longer have the same hold over me. It has been a time to get back to basics – I am now concerned about how to keep the mud at bay and watching the changing seasons. It’s been a cold winter so I have worn thick jumpers and have blankets strategically placed on the backs of chairs. I’m learning more about our wildlife and enjoy hearing the owls at night.
The first challenge was how to fit a cat flap into a static caravan… but, where there is a will there is a way and a friend who’s good at DIY and being creative.
Tucked away doesn’t mean hidden away and thanks to the power of the Internet I am able to continue my work. The plan now is to help families through teleconferencing with a trained facilitator. Using the book ‘Parenting a violent child’ as a guide, parents will be able to follow a 12-week programme to help with their own parenting challenges. The programme can take place at a time that is convenient to the parent and, with a sturdy laptop/tablet; technology can bring us together pretty much anywhere.
As I settle into this new life I will be sharing experiences along the way.
Hopefully, they will have some relevance to other parents and, perhaps, provide some interest to others.