Home help with a difference

I'm really struggling to be a good parent to my three-year-old daughter. I've made mistakes in the past and I'm worried that if I don't do things better, she may end up like I used to be.

It's sometimes hard being a good parent and sometimes for all sorts of reasons; isolation, illness, the emotional and physical demands of a large family etc, extra support is necessary.

Asking for help is not an admission of failure; it's one of many practical steps a person can take to remedy their situation.

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Home-Start offers a community-based service where volunteers (usually parents themselves) are recruited and trained to visit families with at least one child under five.

These volunteers visit families in their own homes and offer them informal, friendly and confidential support for a couple of hours each week

People can refer themselves or they can be referred by a GP, social worker, health visitor or anyone else who recognises that a family has a problem and is in need of support.

Home-Start offers support, friendship and practical help to parents with young children in local communities throughout the UK.

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Home-Start offers a unique service, recruiting and training volunteers who are usually parents themselves to visit families with at least one child under five, at home, and offer them informal, friendly and confidential support.

Home-Start Schemes are rooted in the communities they serve.

They are managed locally, but supported by the national organisation: this offers direction, training, information and guidance and ensures consistent and quality support for parents and children wherever they are.

Home-Start has a proven, lasting, positive impact on the development

of children and the health and welfare of the family.


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The website www.home-start.org.uk details a lot about the support that can be given. Although Home-Start has more than 300 local schemes it, sadly, does not cover 100 per cent of the UK, and some schemes are limited in how far they can travel to support families. Contact the information line on 0800 068 6368 to find out more or to be referred elsewhere. It is open 8am-8pm Monday to Friday and 9am-12pm on Saturdays.

Paul Charlson

GP from Brough

It sounds as if you are lacking in confidence due to your past. It is really positive that you are motivated to be a better parent. You do not say in what way you are struggling and it is therefore difficult to be specific in advising you. I would start with family and friends and talk through your anxieties with them. They may be able to reassure you or point you in the right direction. You could also try organisations like RelateForParents.org.uk or www.parentlineplus.org.uk or www.parentsconnect.com which are on-line. The key thing is you want to do better and are probably doing better than you think. It is about asking for advice and feedback and building on this. I appreciate professionals might be a daunting prospect as a perceived threat to you but often they are non-judgemental and helpful.

Elaine DouglasA chartered psychologist who specialises in family and child relationships

It sounds as though you didn't have an easy start in life, and I think that you are concerned that, if you'll pardon the expression, "the sins of the fathers" will impact on your daughter. I suspect that because of what you have been through you are more anxious than perhaps you need to be about your parenting skills. First of all please let me reassure you that nothing is inevitable or preordained. Of course your daughter is very precious to you and you are terrified that you will get it all wrong and she will end up in the same situation that you did. I am not sure whether you are bringing your daughter up by yourself –- which is always a tough one, because if you are, there will be no-one there to reassure you or share the responsibility. The good news is that all is not lost. There are things that you can do to help you to build up your confidence which don't necessarily involve using professionals. I would have a browse through your local library or on the internet to get some basic straightforward books about being a parent and what it entails. You will begin to feel more in control.

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Cary CooperProfessor of Organisational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University

I am sure that there are a number of organizations out there to help you with your parenting, and one of the other experts may know of specific ones for these sorts of issues. You can also get help from a clinical psychologist, who is likely to take a slightly different approach, by helping you surface the emotional issues that may be underpinning your concerns. Talking about your past, and your present circumstance and concerns, with a trained counsellor or clinical psychologist, should help you to explore your lack of self-confidence about your parenting skills, and the issues from your past that may be driving it.

Dr Carol BurnistonConsultant Clinical Child Psychologist

It sounds as if you have had many difficulties in your life but despite them you are still trying hard to live a good life for you and your daughter. Because you have an understanding of the way you don't want to bring her up and a willingness to seek out better ways, you are in a good position to do something about it. Times have changed since you were a child and social workers want to work with parents and help them to care for their children, so please don't be afraid of their role. They are trained to respect everyone and acknowledge that there are many different ways to bring up children successfully. However, they may not be your first option. Many local areas now have Children's centres and run groups around parenting issues. You can also look for local toddler groups or parent and child sessions run in a local hall. Most are informal and will put you in touch with other parents from whom you can seek support and learn new skills. Mixing with other parents of young children will help you feel more confident and give your little girl an opportunity to mix with other children.

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