Some people may be wondering how Pauline and her family are doing now that the cameras from My Violent Child have left. It’s often the case that when a parenting consultant has stopped working with a family the original problems start to re-emerge. Has this happened with Pauline? Is Sapphire still ruling the roost? Is anyone taking notice of Jorja? How is Spencer getting on?
With Pauline’s permission I thought I would let you know how the family are doing.
Pauline will say it’s been a struggle. She loved the weekend away at Avon Tyrrell (3rd episode) and for the first time in a long while she was enjoying her twin daughters. They were listening to her and helping. They were outdoors and learning new skills. It would have been hard not to enjoy it. The challenge would be to transfer those feelings to their life at home. Would Pauline be able to keep hold of the power that she had found within herself?
Pauline had never really felt power. She didn’t know what it was like for people to listen to her feelings and for anyone to do what she wanted. She was too used to things going wrong for her. So much so that when anyone said life could be different she didn’t understand what that meant. She didn’t realise that she could effect that change herself. After all, why would she?
The one bit of control she did have was when she walked away from her abusing partner. The abuse had gone on for years. Pauline’s inner voice was telling her that this was all she was good for and it was all her fault. She was getting what she deserved.
Exit one abusive partner and one would have thought things would be better. But Pauline was too used to being treated in an abusive way. Once her children started abusing her, although she didn’t like it, it all sounded familiar. This is what her life was supposed to be like.
However, Pauline had reached a point where it was too much and suddenly without realising it her inner being was screaming that life was unfair and it could be better. That inner Pauline, the one that had been hidden for such a long time, was ready to emerge.
Pauline, by her own admission, had done lots of parenting courses in the past. She had been on a couple of groups that I had facilitated. So why was it that she hadn’t made the changes earlier? She could have saved herself so much heartache and pain. What was the difference now?
Though hard to say, Pauline was always capable of making changes but she never believed she could until now. It’s not necessarily about the cameras, as Pauline had taken part in a TV programme a few years ago about living with ADHD.
Pauline began to change when she allowed herself to recognise how the past messages she’d been given by various people were controlling her life. Everything negative that happened to her was evidence that she was useless and had no power. She went straight back to being a little girl who had to do what she was told. Her ex-partner also made her feel responsible for anything that went wrong. Yet, none of us are responsible for how someone else feels. The minute we feel that is when we hand power over to them.
Pauline was allowing her children to make her feel responsible for their unhappiness, regardless of what it was. They didn’t like the way she said something, they didn’t like the way she cooked etc. She would then immediately try to change the situation so that they were happy. Her trying to make them happy was making everyone unhappy.
Then came the weekend away at Avon Tyrrell. Pauline started to realise Jorja was copying her. Pauline was able to see that Jorja was retreating in the face of confrontation. Sapphire was being the abuser. It took her longer to work out what was going on for Spencer. The main thing was that Pauline was able to enjoy herself. I’m not sure she had ever fully enjoyed herself before. Pauline started to get a glimpse of children who did what they were told. The children were working together rather than against each other. Pauline started to feel important and valued.
Back at home it was tempting to let things go back to where they had been before.
However, the inner Pauline had experienced what it was like to have people consider her and she had been given the message that she was important – she wasn’t about to let the inner Pauline be buried again.
It was touch and go a few times, but Pauline held strong. She did a radio interview and started to realise that she had a voice, she was asked to go on This Morning and met Amanda Holden and Philip Schofield.
Suddenly things were happening. She was having experiences that she’d never dreamed she would have. It was a heady mix.
What about the children? I hear you ask. The great thing about Pauline is that she is grounded. She knew that the attention wasn’t going to last and she knew she needed to feel valued at home, not just from the media.
Pauline has implemented some great strategies for her children. They absolutely know that if they try to take control in a negative way there are appropriate consequences in place. However, Pauline has recognised that children still need to feel in control. She has set up bank accounts for them and has learned to hand over responsibility in appropriate ways.
Life is calmer. The children are back at school and doing well. Pauline takes them out, they go to the park and they plan what they are doing. Pauline has learned that having children needs energy and she has now got it in bundles. Before, everything was too much effort, now, nothing is too much effort. She doesn’t feel responsible for making them happy 100% of the time. If they have done something wrong and there is a consequence she doesn’t get sucked into trying to save them from the negative feelings.
The balance is back. Spencer has agreed to try new foods and Pauline is giving up smoking. Pauline has learned that it’s necessary as a parent to look after yourself. With the money she saves from not smoking she’s going to have a massage from time to time.
The greatest difference is the way Pauline looks. She smiles a lot, even when in pain. She delights in her children and is recognising just what a lovely mum she is. She has my greatest admiration. She has saved her children and has changed the old patterns of behaviour. She is an inspiration to all parents who feel stuck and believe that nothing will change.
Parenting a Violent Child: Steps to taking back control and creating a happier home by Islay Downey and Kim Furnish was published on February 26, in paperback, priced £9.99. It is available at www.dltbooks.com.
More information can be found on the parenting work, help and support of Kim and Islay at http://blog.mvchild.info/. Meanwhile, Islay featured in Channel 5’s, ‘My Violent Child’, available on demand from the Channel 5 website.