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Parental Support in general

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      20.02.2013 21:12
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      Cloud Cuckoo Land

      Child benefit cuts - is it fair?

      A staggering 72% (ComRes Poll) of us feel that welfare funding should be either increased or frozen. A stark message to an administration that is hell-bent on dividing the UK into a 'shirker' or 'striver' nation via political media hype, while slashing welfare by 23 billion in eighteen months of governance. This is a poisoned debate which ever means you look at it. I advocate a sharper tax system that'll defrag tax avoidance schemes, targeting multi-international corps who trade in UK yet pay "zero corporate tax." Develop stringent programs that'll track IP addresses of eBay businesses / power-sellers, money-making websites and Avon representatives, who rarely declare their earnings to Her Majesty's tax and revenues via the SA (Self-Assessment) system. I know of seven affluent families whose main earnings are via online businesses and Avon Sales. The problem is; these families pose to be in need of benefits yet break the 60K salary. Defrauding the tax office by not relaying their true earnings therefore will continue receiving child benefit - causing the law-abiding strivers who work for legitimately registered businesses, only to get stung with the copiously unfair child benefit cut - this is profoundly unfair - iniquitous, to single parents, their logistics and their 'cost of living.'

      A single parent taxpayer who earns 61K in London yet pays child-care fees is no better off than a family on the full entitlement of benefits which works out at 26K - However, this taxpayer is subsidizing them and does not qualify for the child-benefit allowance. On paper, she looks comfortable, a 42,000 take home pay packet - although take away 1,100.00 GBP for London average monthly child-care fees - 450.00 weekly rent for a standard three bedroom house which she could easily afford with a partner, already this is a different story. This equates to 35K per annum; leaving her 7K for fuel and living costs - all forced on her due to her marriage break-up (Forced Poverty); her quality of life has diminished substantially; our governance has shredded organizations such as the (Child Support Agency) that would've once protected her from this financial plight - remarkably, she has worked all her life without any hand-outs from the state, and through unforeseen circumstances has worked hard to become a hard-up 'hand to mouth' taxpayer. At the top of her manager pay-scale and no chance of a pay rise she is locked into an unfair system whose caricature tabloid message claims to 'protect', 'worship', and is known as a 'striver.'. Odious political rhetoric! Alas, on a dual income you can earn 98K and still qualify for the child tax benefit. For me, this denotes gross unfairness; and is on par with Lord Myner's (the 2009 Financial Services Secretary) RBS botch-up in not claiming back the banking fiend's Fred Goodwin's golden handshake - 'an annual pension pot of 700,000 GBP'; another feather for the wealthy 'Barnes hostie hat,' earmarked for Royal Ascot 2013 and thereafter.

      The defining point of the child benefit debate is: child-care costs which equates to over two thirds of a monthly wage on average - therefore any salary below 20K, is not viable in real-terms, if you've a family to support. I would understand the child benefit cut more-so if our innate coalition had capped child-care fees - or even successfully capped monthly rental for generic housing - instead the coalition panders to the private landlords / housing associations and professional child-minders - in-turn this may escalate into a humanitarian issue by the end of the year; partly due to another benefit cut whammy. In April 2013 Housing benefit cuts come into fruition, causing a potential 700 thousand tenants to go into (temporary?) B&B orientated homelessness - and a high proportion of these benefit claimants have children. Bang goes the thirteen year Labour policy of taking 'children out of poverty' - they're now back in poverty - the amiable vision from the last administration will be totally reversed within three years of the coalition governance - now that is a tragic achievement. This de facto scenario brought on by a flat-lining economy and no fiscal stimulus plan - How do you explain this to a cold and hungry child? A 'fistful stimulus' is a plausible plan, thumping on the doors of Downing Street. One thing to note though; statistics announced by politicians are seldom correct and are politically laced with rhetoric leaning towards their allegiance. The 'wolf in sheep clothing' is the additional Income Tax Charge - aimed at individuals earning over 60K, who continue to get child benefit into February 2013 and beyond, thinking they've been means tested and passed with flying colours. The system is designed to claw back 7 billion by 2017; if it doesn't, a heavier ITC burden will be introduced on 15% of the working population. No single-parent family should be taxed at 50 pence! Instead the coalition is forcing people to stay in passively aggressive, unhappy marriages; in real-terms; the children are undeniably vulnerable in this situation.

      The banana skin if you're a parent earning over £50,000 and having child benefit, there is an additional Income Tax charge on your take-home pay - it is equivalent to 1% of out every 100.00 GBP of earnings over the 50K threshold. Basically, an additional tax on the tax you've already paid out of your salary - the amounts nevertheless depends on the taxman though, ambiguous styled means testing directly from the tax office itself. Therefore the unfairness goes beyond the actual welfare cut as the tax office predominantly have the last say of what you're entitlements should or should not be - this isn't necessarily a cul-de-sac. Take a leaf out of the 'politician handbook of expenses' instead: Turn to the chapter called: 'exploiting taxation's loopholes.' (1) Set-up a private limited business - (2) Pay yourself a livable wage - (3) Then pump-up your annual income as a dividend. This is legal and will entitle a single-parent to reap a full child benefit too. UK taxpayers should wise-up to ITC style taxes - this isn't mere hyperbole, this is a fact.©1st2thebar 2013

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        27.02.2010 11:14
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        The State picks up the bits

        The are John Terrys in life and there are Wayne Bridges in life, women prefferig to have babies with the nice guy Wayne Bridges of the world and sex with the John Terrys of the world, women always drawn to bad boys when they tire of nice guys. The news is that 2009 was the worst year on record for marriages (well, legal ones), yet a record high for divorces (very legal ones), in recession, money not love, the binding factor in relationships it seems.

        There was a rather sad (and naughty) yougov survey on those relationships featured in the broadsheets last week where it found that 28% of British women have stopped having sex by their 40th birthday. Those with kids faired little better, just 12% of mums finding time or the energy (or an affair) for a quickie more than once a week. In Scotland it was far worse, 38% of girls snuggling up with a good book not a man by their 35th birthday. So after money its lack of nookie that erodes couples relationships. I think its time I brushed down the old kilt and cleaned my big bagpipe for a trip up north!

        The Daily Express hatred of anyone but white middle-class middle aged males, newspaper screamed the headline with the grim fact that one-in-four moms are now in single parent households in the U.K., and an unbelievable 50% of mothers with children under the age of 13 (so born under a Labour government) have never married or lived with a boyfriend, many finding it 'rewarding' to stay at home or be 'supported' by state handouts, niether headline easy or hard to confirm but revealing.

        Every week now we have a court case or of a young child murdered by this smallish band of usless parents in our inner cities that we call the underclass, the absecent fathers that could have protected the kids all too quick to blame social services for their own feckless behaviour, the pure volume of cases making it impossible for social workers to save these kids. Husbands have been replaced by the state in the working-classes and single parent families have doubled under New Labour. If young working-class girls are not deliberately getting pregnant to get on the housing list then it sadly puts them more in the ignorant class. I just don't believe that to be the case though and this is more about social conditioning, aping what your parents did and giving up because no one believes in you, than wanting not to succeed in life. In the defence of these baby machines a recent scientific piece of research found that promiscuity in women may be critical for the future of the human race, the more babies they have then the more we illuminate the damaging SR chromosome and so the male and female chromosomes can flourish. A lower birth rate produces more males and so less females to make the babies!

        http://www.nydailynews.com/lifestyle

        Where as young girls know no better older and affluent ones should, a middle-class Asian mum grabbing the right wing tabloid headlines last week in big style, the tea cups of Surbiton rattling against the saucers in utter rage! Even the most left wing, world music listening, lentil munching feminist would have been fuming over that extraordinary news story in those redtops last week about single mom Essma Marjam, who had managed to get Westminster Council to put her up in a five bedroom house in a very posh area of London, all on the social. Whilst most working Londoners are paying £1600 a year council tax she was getting that amount free a month to pay her rent! A rather nefarious housing association loophole ruling had allowed her to plead poverty because she was pregnant with her SEVENTH child and so entitled to five bedrooms. Due to huge immigration flows and those increased single parent rates in our general society a new law was bought in around 2005 to cover emergency housing issues under those annoying human rights laws, making sure vulnerable women with kids were at least housed. Essma chose her house on the internet, one she felt was deserving of her situation when she had her sixth kid, chancing her luck and low and behold her rent of six grand a month is now being picked up by the benefits office in Westminster. Because there were no council houses she liked in Derby-her home town- she seems to have pulled her 'minority card' and landed on her feet. The £2 million town house is just down the road from Paul McCartney and has raised the hackles once again over women exploiting the benefit system by having child after child to stay on the dole. Once you have had one kid on the state you are legally entitled to housing until that kids 7th birthday, and so you celebrate that 6th birthday by getting pregnant and doing it all over again, and with the obscene cost of childcare, it makes sense not to work if you're a mom under New Labour, Blair's benefit policies to encourage unemployment in single working-class women all rather pathetic, purely done because he thinks they will vote Labour to keep their injection of the heroine of state handouts.

        Rather incredibly Essma's second husband is a lawyer from Derby yet she was allowed to claim the house in London's swanky Maida Vale? Why on Earth isn't he paying her maintenance and she told to stay in cheaper Derby? The whole point of the CSA was to increase absent father's contribution to the kids so to be able to reduce benefit payments to the mother. What are the reformed CSA messing about at in Derby? I'm sure there were plenty of mums and dads reading that story that have had very negative dealings when looking for rent and housing help through recession and you are just throwing your hands in the air over this. There will, of course, be a handful of you saying you shouldn't mention this and it it's politically incorrect. Well you are the people making the human rights lawyers so bloody rich! Over 800 families alone in Westminster have benefited from this housing association support system in the last five years alone. The welfare state was meant to be a safety net not a bloody hammock!!

        Although immigrant mothers have much lower levels of divorce and far less likely to be single mothers they now give birth to one in every four babies born in the U.K. but, rather paradoxically, more likely to be unemployed. Married women to working men are not classed as unemployed. Of the 791,000 babies born in the UK in 2008, 24 per cent had immigrant mothers. Overwhelmingly, they were from Pakistan, India or Poland, families with high morals over marriage. In the white underclass they have neither, the real fracture in British society. Some migrant groups are highly dependent on social housing because their families have higher numbers of children and are more likely to be without work. They include families from Afghanistan, Somalia and Bangladesh. The Muslim population in Britain has grown by more than 500,000 to 2.4 million in just 5 years - 10 times faster than the rest of society, putting huge strains on maternity and housing services, as was the case with Essma Marjam, Britain in the new millennium.

        For me the problem of the family and divorce is that New Labour tell the working-class its ok to fail whereas the Tories says its ok to succeed, 12 years of one government always needing 12 years of the other lot to fix the problems. Blair's biggest crime outside of the Iraq War is he has made us a weak nation, and worse still we sat back and let him do it. Those ober human rights lawyers' power and this health & safety nonsense has come from that apathy. Nobody is responsible for their mistakes any more, including babies, abortions up big too.

        I don know how Labour did it but just before the election they announced that teen pregnancies were a small percentage down, the £275 million pounds spent on sex education schemes reducing the number by 456 nationally to mums age 13-17. Although only 5.4% of girls in the U.K have given birth by their 18th birthday and that seems quite low, these girls tend to in the same places and so the problem intensified. You go to any sink estate in Britain and you will find pregnant 15-year-old girls with 32-year-old mums and 55-year-old grans, even in the same postcode. It's the norm guys. They are most likely to produce delinquent children and those children even more likely to be single moms to continue the chain. Now at this point I'm not talking about teenage girls in strong relationships with working partners but the girls on estates just doing it to get out of the family home or situation. I don't believe the majority of these pregnancies are to do with not knowing about the birds and the bees or poor use of contraception. After all, middle-class teenage girls don't get pregnant and nearly all go on to university without nappies and a pacifier in the back of their VW Golf. I think lower class teen moms have babies because they don't think they can go to university.

        http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/8531227

        But it's the older moms that have been having the babies in the last ten years, careers and fertility drugs allowing career moms the chance to delay families. But at least in this demographic the men of the house tend to be working and the birth is based on the ability of the parents and so not the state paying for it.

        Some babies come from mistakes, of course, and those girls and women need support. There are still too many feckless men out there not willing to help. But in these younger working-class moms it's often the case that women almost demand mitigation on sexual mistakes, whether it's getting pregnant by a one night stand or through a relationship. The feminist jumped all over this recent survey that claimed that 55% of people asked from a group of 1000 adults found that women were less sympathetic to other women who make rape claims, much higher than the men on the same survey, an honest evaluation as- perhaps-its these the very same women on the survey who get in the same situations with booze and provocative wear and so the right to have an opinion.

        http://community.livejournal.com/ontdpolitical/

        Rape accusations aside I think it's far too easy for unplanned pregnancies in young girls and it's not always due to promiscuous males. For me the heart of those relationship breakdowns and divorces is not feckless men - or women- but booze, simple as. Women use booze as an excuse and they use lack of contraception as an excuse for getting pregnant or in a situation with a guy they shouldn't be in through a lack of common sense. If a girl or a guy gets drunk on a night out they strip away their ability to keep control and so anything can happen, maybe why they drink so heavily, and it's no coincidence that the most promiscuous country in Western Europe also has the most pregnancies and rape accusations. Other European women just don't live that way. In Spain if you get pregnant before your 25 there's no council flat escape just parents and 100 Hail Mary's!

        A recent survey of 3000 British women between the ages of 18-50 found that women had slept with an average of about 8 men, but were drunk with at least five of them, and on an average two of those encounters they couldn't even remember the guy's names. Astonishingly, 48% said they 'preferred sex' whilst under the influence. 75% say they like a tipple before getting into bed with their partner or husband and some 6% polled had never had sex whilst sober. A worrying 14% said they can't face sleeping with their partner without a drink. Many surveyed said that 'drinking was part of the dating process', so they were bound to be a bit drunk on the meeting. Again, alcohol plays an integral part of relationships in this rather pathetic booze soaked country. British women perhaps suffer from lower self-esteem and less confidence about sex than our more cosmopolitan European friends because sex is so available and so need a drink to deal with this countries bizarre macho need to be so promiscuous. Young British working-class men after a drink are usually out of control and always have been - why it's always been a mystery why the girls don't understand that threat.

        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1215262/

        So in summary divorce is on the up in recession and its down to money and mistakes, the kids the ones hurting the most. The CSA has been too target obsessed to stem the rise, targeting men that can pay more rather than spending more catching up with men who wont pay any, an absolute disgrace. Women need all the support they can get when their kids are very young and men who don't help them are rats. Where New Labour really went wrong was pushing women into work and so driving up those child care costs, higher than full board public school fees now, meaning it was cheaper to stay at home and draw benefits if you're a low skilled working-class with no hang ups about that or middle-class dads having to do long hours so eroding their relationships with their wife and kids and wrecking the relationship that way. This British obsession with money and social class and not family has weakened the very fabric of this fine country. We know where it went wrong. Please vote these clowns out before its too late!

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          07.06.2009 13:29
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          Follow your instincts and enjoy.

          I too agree that being a parent is the most joyful, frustrating, exciting, tiring, soul rewarding, painful experiences there is.
          I guess from that list you get my drift.
          It's hard! Someone said to me many years ago that it doesn't get easier it just changes and I remember thinking how very negative they were and how depressing that thought!

          Now from many years further down the track I realise just how right they were!

          I found the early years very easy. Yes of course there were problems and stresses, that was to be expected, but as the little dears got older particularly middle teens- nightmare alley here we are!
          The one thing I can say now is that if you do enough work in the early years you just need a large measure of fingers crossed and gulping in the teens and hopefully when they get past about mid 20 or so you start to see that maybe you didn't get it all wrong after all!
          You won't of course get any credit for your efforts so if you imagine otherwise let me disabuse you of that notion double quick!

          I find that their successes are their own efforts and their difficulties are down to you and your earlier years of parenting.
          The point is, I can remember feeling the same!!
          That's what gets me through, quite often.
          And now I do find that 'outsiders' who have the chance to get to know my beautiful, loving , awesome offspring do now congratulate me on doing a good job! Then it is nice to accept that little glow of praise and feel your efforts may, after all have been worthwhile.
          Especially, if like me, in the earlier years my other half was off all over the world 'working' (yes I saw the photos taken in the nightclub in Cairo!) and then followed divorce so I reckon I pretty much did it all by myself. Following on from the core idea in azana's review, I will now proceed to pat myself on the back, accept that NO ONE is perfect and gets it ALL right and what I achieved was, using counselling terms, 'good enough'.
          So all those parents out there, single or not, value your good intent, accept you won't get it right all the time and always ALWAYS enjoy the experience. They're gone to their own lives way too quickly.

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            03.06.2009 09:24
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            when exactly did we decide the books knew best?

            Becoming a parent is, I am sure most people who have been through it would agree, one of the most steep learning curves you will go through ever. It is amazing and humbling in equal degrees and full of suprises and the harsh discovery that you will end up saying all those things your mum used to say and no, you won't be perfect all the time.

            If you took on a new job you would expect training and support, but too often when people become a parent they think it will be just intuitive and disappointment is sure to follow. In the past parents were supported by their community but today, sadly that is not so. I have a few worries about this and I think the way parenting is valued and supported or not in this country.

            Firstly, and perhaps due to the fact that many parents don't get advice from their parents, we have seemed to turn to books and parenting gurus in this country. There are authors who haven't even had children who have made vast amounts of money telling the rest of us how to do it (and I shan't mention names here as the main routine advocate I can think of actually sued a parenting site as she didn't like criticism). There are endless programmes on TV showing naughty steps and nightmare kids. This is all plain wrong if people feel governed by the books and the programmes. I do think that the books and programmes portray parenting as some sort of ordeal - sure it has its challenges, but these books are often not right or wrong and sometimes no support whatsover. They do seem to have empowered every granny I have ever encountered when my child is having an off moment with the power to offer unsollicited and unhelpful "advice" or tut, this is not always a good thing.

            Secondly it worries me deeply that this country seems to have decided that the solution to the lack of real support for parents is daycare, lots of it. Fantastic as it is that 3 year olds are shortly to have 3 hours per day funded preschool/nursery time per day there is more pressure than ever to put young children into a day long session. That is not to say that I have every respect for parents who work and think daycare should be there as a support to those that choose it, I just don't like the feeling I have that this government seem to have decided that they should set targets for under 3's and write curriculums. There is even a curriculum for under 1's full of what they should be doing - that is not support at all, that is making parents feel from the start that they can't measure up to the ideal.

            That is indeed the crux of problem, often in this country parents are not supported properly. The number of Health Visitors is at a record low, if you do have a concern with your child it is far easier to turn to the parenting forums on the internet than to find a professional to help, GP's are too busy, the two and a half year check has disappeared, even at the start you don't get a midwife but a "team", at a time when parents are expected to be doing more and more there is, it seems, less constructive support than ever in some cases.

            The headlines scream that 5 year olds are coming to school not knowing how to listen, or eat with a knife and fork, but the reality is somewhere along the line the knowledge that would help many parents learn how to feed and discipline their children correctly is either being conveyed in the wrong manner or not at all.

            Personally I enjoy being a parent, but I don't have any family support to speak of. When I got food poisoning along with my 5 month old I spent a week having to get on with it and breastfeeding her even though I hadn't eaten for a week as there was just no one to ask for help. At times I have literally been near hallucinating from two hours' sleep and chocolate and adrenaline has got me through - this is not a whinge from me just the reality of parenting sometime.

            I have learned that the best support that there is comes in the form of other parents. Whether the support be from parenting forums or from my network of "real life" friends I have found that the support I have built up for myself is the only real support there is.

            There are now children's centres that, from my experience of them, have had a lot of money spent on them - they do offer support for some groups of mums. I met a delightful very young mum yesterday, of probably 18 or maybe younger who was happy with the help she had received and seemed to be doing a great job. Sometimes however you, as a parent don't fall into the "right" group and so you may not have access to the parenting course or the free baby massage. Surestart is a charity that does offer real support in the form of volunteers that will go and help for a couple of hours, but again provision is not adequate probably.

            In conclusion I would say that parental support is important between the generations. It is important to support your own children in all they do, and in the lack of any cohesive system in this country those people who do have grannies or grandads to help should realise that they are worth their weight in gold. All of us should support parents in whatever way we can. Certainly being a parent is a choice and can be fantastic but when we see a mum struggling with a tantruming child a smile or a "we've all been there" is more helpful than a tut.

            I live in a fantastic community where parents generally do support each other, we swap childcare or babysitting for appointments and so on, it wasn't like that where I used to live. Overall I would like to see parents everywhere help and support each other in real ways so that parents can regain the confidence in their ability to parent that has, in my opinion, been lost in the mire of judgemental programmes and government reports. Parents need support and I think the future of our children would be much better if we all supported parents a little better.

            On a personal note I hope, God willing, to see my own children have their babies and hope I will be able to be there for them 100%, as I am now when they are growing up. Hopefully I will be there to support them and advise them if they ask for it. As a mum I think that the support I give my children now is as important as anything that money can buy, and the support given by and to parents is a pretty vital component in bringing up our young children. Let's not underestimate the importance of parental support.

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              17.02.2009 15:01
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              Everyone needs some help

              When my sister had her first child, she didnt have a partner, and the father of the child, didnt want to have anything to do with his son. We as a family tryed to help out as much as possible, but having families of our own, there is only so much you can do. During the eary stages, she got a lot of help from the midwife in charge of their well being, but even that has to stop at some time. When she went back to work, my mother looked about her grandson a lot, but as he grew, it became a lot harder for her, so she had to hire a nanny, who helped her out a lot. Wher my nephew went into school, they as helped out a lot. They didnt charge any fee's when he went to nursey, which I lot was great. I help her out as much as I could and our kids get on with each other brilliantly.

              At first, we found it a struggle, and living in America, we were so far away from home, that I found it even harder. When we came back, we had no problems, and we had everything under control. There are a lot of people out there can help you, and these days, you dont need to bring up a child on your own.

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              15.01.2009 16:39
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              Put yourself out there!

              This review is about the support that is available to new parents and how I felt about the support I had.

              As a new mum (my son is 4 months old) I found that there was a mixture of support available. Sometimes I felt totally alone, other times I felt as though there was so many opportunities for support that I just did not have time to make the most of all of it.

              I think the most important support I could get as a mum was from fellow mums. I also found that the closer in age to my baby the better. So when I met a mum of a 2 year old, it was helpful to talk things through and learn from their experience. Then when I met a mum of a 2 month old when my baby was just born, I was over the moon at having someone who was going through it at roughly the same time as me. Then, once I met a mum of a baby that was born two days before my son, I was in my element! I would recommend all new mums and dads go to as many community groups as possible to meet parents in the same position as them. You will get on with some people and not others, just like in any walk of life, but even if you do not click with someone, you might still be able to learn from their experiences. It is also so reassuring to hear someone else is going through the same as you.

              Health visitors can provide you with lots of information about community groups that are available.

              One thing I would say is that to start, if you do not appear to have any problems, there is a slowness on the part of the health community to come forward and offer support or suggestions. Once I was diagnosed with post natal depression, everyone came out of the wood work and suddenly I have more offers of help and more invitations to groups than I know what to do with.

              If you need help, ask for it. I know it is easier said than done but it is well worth it. Parents need as much support as they can get. There are lots of books and websites that can help but you cannot beat a good chat!

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              09.11.2008 17:02
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              Parental support

              I have been fortunate enough to have had two amazingly supporting parents even though the person I call Mum is not my biological mother, she left the hme many years ago and gave up her right to be considered a mother to myself and my brother instead the wonderful person my father met and marries a couple of years later has been a great source of support for me.

              My parents were also fortunate to have the support network of a close knit family structure, sure at times this could be a bit claustrophobic with anties coming out of the woodwork and both sets of grand parents on hand but the plus side was that we were and to some extent still are surrounded by cousins who were also childhood friends and now adult ones as well with the added bond of blood relatives.

              These days there are also lots of non family support out there in the form of family health counsellors, schools with a more outward community feel to them and also a whole range of professionals, parents also have the huge research capability of the internet to get support, and while there are some down sides to all of these they also proivide an opportunity to others.

              Despite these I still feel that it is the family that provides the best support network by a signifcant margin.

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                06.11.2008 22:07
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                There are many many sources of support you just have to know where to look for it

                As parents, it's so hard sometimes to know where to turn when you are having a problem with your child, or sometimes when you are just feeling isolated and alone as can often happen in any mothers or fathers time when being the main care giver of their children.

                There are always places where you can gain support, its just a matter of looking for them and also having the motivation to do this, I wish I had done this before slipping into post natal depression, as would have maybe not stopped me getting post natal depression but may I may have had the support to have been able to diagnose it quicker and also had people to lean on in my darkest hours.

                The best place of support I have found is local play groups, I was brave and went on my own and the first time I was a little nervous and did not speak to many people but as the weeks went on, I made so many friends, and was invited to their houses for play dates, and to birthday parties, body shop parties etc, and this really helped me as there was so many other parents who had felt the same isolation as myself and some of the mothers there also worked the same as me and gave me lots of advice on how they have learnt to deal with the guilt they feel for working when they are a parent.

                If you are feeling isolated or just want to meet some new people and to get support and advice then call your local health visitors office or even your GP office and they should be able to point you in the right direction for local play groups, mother and toddler or mother or baby groups etc.

                You can also try the local library, I'm not sure about all libraries across the UK, but ours does many little clubs, like the breast feeding café, singing and stories with sally, book clubs for older children and adults etc, these are great fun and I really enjoyed taking both of my children to these events, they both love books as do I, and it was really nice for me to see that they have inherited this from me, and gave me a great boost as at the time I was feeling a bit useless and that I was a bad mummy (unfortunately a symptom of my depression) and this made me realise that I was not a bad mum and have gave my children so much, not just love but important life skills and hobbies.

                My advice for any parent is to make friends with other people in your situations and you can do this in many ways, my hubby sometimes goes to daddy and toddlers with a friend of ours at the local parent centre and also at the weekend if I need some time to do some housework or just need a bit of "me" time he will take the kids down to the local soft play centre and again there are lots of other dads and mums in there for exactly the same reasons.

                I have also made many friends through my sons dance school and have become involved in the charity work for the school and that has been really good because not only do you gain loads of friends for support but you also give support to others also and there is nothing better than that feeling you get in your tummy when you know you have genuinely made a difference to someone's life.

                There are also many websites you can try, if you prefer to chat online firstly, some of the better ones are netmums.co.uk, mumszone.co.uk and mama.co.uk and also activedads, I personally think its better to get out there, but I know some people do not find this easy and also if you do not live in an area that has this type of support structure there then the internet can be a good source of support.

                I also must say that dooyoo, is also a tool that I would recommend to parents looking for support as there are some terrific mums and grandmas and dads etc on here, you only have to look at i am joy or kingfisher111 or honestbob and many many more to realise there are some brilliant community members with a wealth of experience and I know by just reading some their reviews that they have inspired me at times.

                Also gain knowledge from your families, my mum and mother in law have gave me so much advice, not that i have always taken it, but sometimes just hearing it helps.

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                  03.11.2008 11:54
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                  Parental support is very important, sadly I have never had it.

                  As a parent myself, I know how important it is to feel that you have parental support. Sadly I have never had alot of support. My Husband does what he can, but he is self employed and works all the hours. So the parenting bit is left mainly to me. I have a one year old son, who has been a challenge at times, but luckily for me he is a very happy boy. This makes it slightly easier to cope, but unfortunatey when he was six months old I suffered with post natal depression for three months. I had no supprot through this time. My Healthvisitor was useless!! My mum and dad have busy lives too, so I don't have the support from them. I feel that I was let down a bit by the system. Healthcare professionals should be more keyed up to spot when there are problems. It could have been so much worse for me, but I am so strong now, as I have had to cope by myself!!

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                    14.10.2008 13:05
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                    Fantastic - Complete transformation in behavour

                    I have read the reviews wrote on here about the rewards/Sticker charts for children and ithought i would also give it a try, i brought one of these magnetic wipe clean boards from next £12.99 (Very pink and girly)

                    We decided to change each task each week pending if she was at school or half term.

                    It had worked fantastically, she loves being rewarded and i have found that even the trawling task of getting ready in the morning for the before school club and getting her out of bed has improved.

                    We stil have one or two little hickups but then that normal isnt it.

                    i have previously tried the naughty stair technique and also the removing toys one at a time with 3 warnings etc but i have to say this has been the most effective.

                    Thank you so much for this, being a single parent i find it hard sometimes juggling everything but this has kept me calmer and feeling more in control of the household instead of her.

                    Brilliant

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                    07.09.2006 18:56
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                    What price a career when your child is growing up?

                    PROUD TO BE A HOUSEWIFE/HUSBAND?

                    Is it time mothers can once again say with pride that we are a housewife and mother, or for the father to say he is a househusband. There is nothing at all to be ashamed of in doing a good job of staying at home and looking after your family if that is your choice. Quality time would then be just that and could be enjoyed spontaneously instead of having to be planned for at weekends – when many parents probably don’t enjoy it as much as we pretend, as in actual fact we are thinking of all the other things we have still to do.

                    AT WHAT COST?

                    The only thing which has come out of this desire for women to have jobs outside of the home is that nowadays some of us have the choice – but at what price?
                    I sympathise with parents who have no alternative but to leave their children with competent carers, but I also feel that more should be done to enable parents to take a career break in those first few years of a child’s life.
                    I am not entirely convinced women have achieved a lot with all this liberation we have strived for. Many of us still have the responsibilities of caring for our homes and families and are expected to succeed in a demanding career as well. Instead of liberation could it be termed as slavery for some of us?

                    TOO TIRED

                    As any working parent will testify, at the end of a hard day at work parents often don’t have the time, energy or patience to amuse our children. If we could afford to spend more time with our children maybe discipline would improve. How many of us have found ourselves giving in to demands from our children just because we are too drained to battle with them. This in itself causes a lowering of standards and allows the child to think it can always get its own way.

                    QUALITY TIME

                    Listen to modern parents boasting about the “quality time” spent with our children. It is so easy to spot them in the shops on Saturdays. The kids and parents are dressed in the latest designer clothes, shopping trolleys loaded with exotic convenience foods and the kids frequently told they can have whatever it is they happen to pick up from the shelves. Come Saturday night, the kids are left with babysitters while Mum and Dad go out for the evening – “We need time together” is the excuse. A time to relax as a couple.
                    Sunday the whole family might visit grandparents or fit in some sporting activity, or more likely the parents will have a lie-in while the kids watch television. Maybe a trip to the pub for lunch, or a drive to yet more shops. By seven o’clock the kids are in bed and come Monday morning it’s back to the nursery or childminder again. What kind of a family life do these kids have?

                    EARLY RISERS
                    Are we being fair dragging young babies and toddlers out of bed as early as 6 am to bundle them into the car for the journey to their carers? Is it fair to ask these children to sit in rush hour traffic, breathing in the exhaust fumes, sensing their parent’s frustrations at the delays?

                    IN CARE
                    Once at our destination, the child is left – but what do they do all day? In many nurseries babies spend most of the day in their cots in a room full of other babies. We talk about the cruelty of battery farms for animals, but unless a nursery is chosen very carefully many babies could be in a similar situation, herded together in one room for hours at a time. When do they receive the stimulation of simple things like a walk to the park or the shops? How do they become familiar with all the everyday sights and sounds when they spend all their childhoods in “daycare” – isn’t that the same term we use to describe the care of the elderly? Do we really want our children to become institutionalized at such an important stage in their lives?
                    No wonder so many of us feel we have to spend this so called quality time with the kids at the weekend. By the time Mum and Dad finish work, collect junior from the minder, prepare the evening meal and do the basic chores we are too shattered to want the bother of amusing our offspring every evening, hence the 7 o’clock (or earlier) bedtime. We are tired and so are the children, after all it has been a long day for them too.

                    CHILDREN OR A CAREER?.
                    I really think it is time we should all question our motives for having children whilst continuing to pursue our full time careers. Are we being fair to our children? Do kids really need all the material possessions parents seem compelled to bestow upon them? If parents have to pay out so much on childcare and all the other conveniences we need in order to juggle our career and our family, what are the benefits from all this? If it is purely a matter of finance that makes parents have to work so hard, then surely we should reassess if we really need such an expensive house/car and all those fashionable designer labels. Do we need to have foreign holidays and eat out several times a week?
                    Surely the most important consideration must be that it is always possible to continue a career later on – how many of us are in jobs where we are constantly retraining to keep up to date?

                    CHILDHOOD IS VERY SHORT

                    A couple of years away from the career path is surely not as important as those first few years of a child’s life. Once a child grows up its childhood is lost forever and parents can never recapture those lost moments of babyhood. But it is usually possible to retrain for our careers.

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                      06.04.2006 15:43
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                      good way to keep law and order

                      We started using this method on our two girls quite recently and it really does work. Our kids used to leave the house in a complete mess every night after coming home from nursery and playing with their toys. The two of them love getting stars or stickers when cleaning the lounge or kitchen as a treat and prevents a lot of crying and shouting by both parties. They like to get picked up by us and put their own stickers/stars on the chart which is an adventure in itself. I would suggest to any parents that they try this method if all else fails.

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                        15.03.2006 10:54
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                        amazing

                        these charts can be found at www.starcharts4u.com

                        they are a excellent behaviour aid for parents for all sorts of problems. such as bed wetting, keeping children in there own bed, general behaviour problems, I used one on my daughter who would not stay in her own bed and after a week we so a great improvment, I cannot praise this sort of system enough and am so glad I found these charts.

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                          25.02.2005 22:30
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                          Having been at the end of my tether for some time, I was desperate to get some help with my son’s behaviour problems. I surfed the net, and eventually found a web site selling an e-book, which claims to have 100% success rate, dealing with behaviour problems. There was also a forum for parents with children who have behaviour problems.

                          I have to admit that I was sceptical, having tried rewards, punishments, the positive parent approach etc, and neither us as parents, 3 nursery schools, or primary school could get through to him.

                          Those who have read my review on “James’ Story” will know all the problems we have had with James since he was 2, and it now appears that he may have Aspergers Syndrome, (an Autistic Spectrum disorder) as well as ADHD.

                          I joined the forum last Saturday which is free, and had a look around. I will tell you more about that later.

                          Having read as much as I could about the claims of this book, I decided that for less than $40, I really had nothing to lose, so I paid my money, and downloaded the book. That was on Monday 21st February 2005 (just 4 days ago).

                          I read the book from cover to cover in about 4-5 hours, and found that everything which was said was actually common sense, but having been into the downward spiral of constantly nagging and shouting at James for his bad behaviour, we couldn’t get out of it.

                          In the book, is information on how to stop the bad behaviours, and encourage good and helpful behaviours by introducing strategies to encourage the child to “want” to behave well. It describes how punishments can sometimes act as rewards, and how to find the right punishments and rewards for your child. It also describes how to work with your child to decide on appropriate rewards that they will be happy to work for. It also contains reward charts, and describes a couple of different ways of using the chart depending on your child’s age.

                          On Tuesday, I awoke with a new attitude, and a determination to change things for the better. I started applying the principals, and although warned that things may get worse before they get better, James’ attitude immediately changed. By being strong on Tuesday, and applying time out (“It is your choice James, you can sit on the stairs for 5 minutes, or you can lose the television for this evening”) by Wednesday, I didn’t even need to time him out.

                          Today, James’ teacher commented that they had the best day in a long time. James has completed his work, and has been nice to his classmates. His rewards have been plenty, and I haven’t shouted at him since Monday.

                          The author, Noel Swanson, claims to be able to help even if your child has ADHD, Aspergers, ODD, or other behavioural problems. Having read the book, I completely agree that this method if used consistently can change the behaviour of all children for the better. It is early days, but I can see that things are going to be very different in this house!

                          Anyone interested in finding out more can try this link.

                          http://good-child-guide.com/index0b.html

                          OK, so that is the background to the forum I want to tell you about. Noel Swanson set up the forum for parents of children with behaviour problems. This forum is available for anyone wanting to give or receive support in relation to behaviour problems.

                          The site is easy to register on, and easy to navigate. Looking at the postings, it is clear that there are a lot of people out there with similar problems to mine, and all in need of support.

                          I joined the site and made a few posts. A couple of people joined just after I did. There is just one problem. The site was set up last November by Noel, and he tried hard to reply to the postings on the forum, but it is clear that the people using the site so far are not used to forums in general. Many people have posted their problems, but there is a lack of enthusiasm, or more likely confidence in posting replies. As I write this review, there are currently about 52 members on the forum, and over the last couple of months, the members have become less and less active.

                          I emailed Noel last night to find out what was happening with the site. I was really disappointed to hear that he is thinking of closing it down due to the lack of interest. I think this is a real shame as this is a brilliant opportunity for all parents to share their knowledge, experience, and problems with others in the same situations.

                          So if you are a parent with a child who has behaviour problems, please go and have a look. If you are a parent with perfect little angels, then please go and take a look. You just might be able to help someone cope with their little devil.

                          The link is http://www.7stepstofreedom.com/forum/

                          Many thanks for reading,

                          Sam xxx




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                            04.12.2004 20:15
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                            Families Need Fathers

                            Suddenly after many years of silence the issues facing seperated fathers from their children has never had such prominence. Bob Geldof has long been a spokesman on the difficulties and injustice of the family law courts but it has taken the attention seeking antics of a few and the recent court appearances of the Home Secretary to raise the awareness to a whole new level.

                            This review is about the charity FNF of which I have been a member for the past five years, one year less than the time I have been divorced.

                            First things first I want to clear up a couple of points. This is not one of those publicity seeking crackpot groups that raises it’s profile through publicity stunts, people like Spiderman and the group who tied themselves to the Seven Bridge and Buckingham Palace are not a part of FNF. Fathers for Justice are the ones who grab the headlines with high publicity stunts. Some similarities can be drawn with the Suffragette movement, they carried out the stunts that earned publicity while a more moderate womans group worked behind the scenes to influence politicians and public opinion.

                            Secondly as with all organisations there are things that you would want to change, for me the first thing that I would change is the name. I believe the title is misleading and by being misleading it will exclude people (women) from looking any further at it. The membership is predominantly male however it represents all parents in campaigning for both parents to have joint responsibility for raising their children. To this end there are female members but they are in the minority, perhaps this will always be the case as in the majority of cases of separation and divorce it is the father who becomes the parent without care.

                            Background

                            FNF was established in 1974 and became a registered charity in 1979. Currently it boasts a membership of about 2,500 and is funded solely from membership fees and donations.


                            Aims

                            The aims of the charity are to provide advice and support for parents to get shared responsibility for the raising of their children and to help people through the legal complexities of divorce and getting access to their children.

                            The charity campaigns actively on parent’s rights and particularly on behalf of those who have been denied access to their children. It does not seek to further its aims through stunts but by reasoned argument and debate.

                            Canvassing MP’s and seeking to get significant changes to the law are part of the regular activities that members can get involved in.

                            The charity is also active in highlighting the inequalities that exist within the legal system and is not slow in denouncing those decisions within the family courts that defy logic or common reason.

                            Finally the charity sets great store in providing advice to anyone representing themselves through the courts and thus avoiding the costly and often ineffective family lawyers. In particular it promotes the use of McKenzie Friends who act as advisers during court appearances. Often judges may decide to refuse this help with no sound legal reason and FNF seeks to challenge these decisions.

                            Membership

                            Annual membership is £30, which reduces to £25 if you pay by standing order. The use of gift aid also boosts the charities funds.


                            Benefits

                            The website provides a wealth of information for anyone who is trying to pick their way through the courts. There are many useful fact sheets in particular advice on how to represent yourself in court with the necessary documents that you can download.

                            There is also advice available on the CSA including a calculator to enable people to calculate the likely amount of maintenance that will be awarded, a really useful tool that allows you to budget while the CSA take an absolute age to come up with pretty much the same figure.


                            Members receive a quarterly magazine entitled McKenzie, which has well written articles providing both advice and updates on any changes to the law.

                            Support is also available through volunteer contact numbers and local branches and it is the former that I have found useful on a couple of occasions often providing the voice of reason that I needed to hear.

                            Resources

                            The website can be found at

                            www.fnf.org.uk

                            Conclusions

                            This site and the charity can provide an excellent reference point for anyone who is facing seperation from their children. You will come across some very sad stories of what people have been through but you will also come across success stories from which you can draw strength.

                            I'm one of the lucky ones, I have had contact at all times with my children and have avoided the courts, two sessions of conselling and a contact agreement was reached that works for the children their mother and me, however it is still nice to know that there are people out there if things do ever change.

                            Good luck


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