coffee morning mothers having a go at my son and me without realising I was in the room

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Argo
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coffee morning mothers having a go at my son and me without realising I was in the room

Postby Argo » Thu Oct 21, 2021 8:11 pm

Our four old boy can be extremely challenging in terms discipline, aggression, socialising and following instructions.

We've just put in place some professional support for him but his behaviour at school is already causing him to feel slightly alienated and me already embarrassed and sad.

At our first class coffee this morning another mum started to recount a story about my son's behaviour not realising that I was his mother. Predictably others chimed in with some choice views of parenting and discipline. I didn't say anything, I didn't trust myself not to lose it or break down but I am now sat wondering what to do next that will most help my son.

Take it up with this mother individually or email the class to explain that the story and was about my son and to further explain his issues? Not sure what is best to do? I don't want to make enemies but I do feel that he deserves a break. Thanks for reading.
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2009Kat
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Re: coffee morning mothers having a go at my son and me without realising I was in the room

Postby 2009Kat » Fri Oct 22, 2021 2:05 pm

I'm so sorry to hear that.  Some people just have no idea.  My son has additional needs and it (judgment from others) just goes with the territory - it shouldn't have to obvs and people usually more compassionate when and if they try to understand.
To be honest, I think these things always come across better in person and I wouldn't be emailing round anyone (who knows how that could get forwarded on...?!) but having a large drink and punching some thing.  Next time call them out in person?  Although I can see there are advantages to just telling them all in a message.
If your son is only 4, it sometimes takes time for them to settle in the school environment (I am assuming Reception?) and for other parents to realise kids are not just all the same. I would focus on your son and helping him with his self regulation and socialising.  He is the one that matters, not the thoughts of the other mothers.
I hope you're getting some help for your son - it sounds like you are recognising he needs some support and I hope you are looking after yourself.  Feel free to pm me any time.

 
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Funkymonkey2500
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Re: coffee morning mothers having a go at my son and me without realising I was in the room

Postby Funkymonkey2500 » Sun Oct 24, 2021 12:48 pm

I would definitely explain to others what troubles your son has and what you are doing to help him. One of my children was badly affected by bullying and another by the aggressive behaviour of a classmate and I think my reaction to both these things would have been different had I known the child had difficulties. That is not to say I would have ignored the problem though- managing a challenging classmate can be tricky for everyone- parents, other children and teachers!
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Mayamoo
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Re: coffee morning mothers having a go at my son and me without realising I was in the room

Postby Mayamoo » Mon Oct 25, 2021 7:51 am

Tough one. Suggest working closely with the school to ensure your son is getting the support that he requires but at the same time being mindful of the impact his behaviour could be having on other children. The other mums might be worried about the safety of their own children but if their friendship / approval is important to you perhaps arrange 1:1 coffee catch-ups next time and raise the topic if you feel comfortable? We’ve been in a situation where our child has been on the receiving end of aggressive behaviour - whilst the other child received professional support the emotional impact on our child sadly didn’t seem to be acknowledged or treated as a priority by the other parent. I think what I’m trying to say is that there’s sometimes a balancing act between requesting compassion and understanding for your child versus safeguarding and protecting the welfare of other children. I think it’s fair to ask for your child to have a break but at the same time the feelings of other kids who might be at the receiving end matter too. Hope you find a solution that works for you and things start improving.
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Bevvers
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Re: coffee morning mothers having a go at my son and me without realising I was in the room

Postby Bevvers » Mon Oct 25, 2021 9:10 am

I can’t believe that any parent would think it acceptable to use a class coffee morning to criticise a child and their parent. Let them get on with it and ignore their comments.
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cheesesandwich
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Re: coffee morning mothers having a go at my son and me without realising I was in the room

Postby cheesesandwich » Mon Oct 25, 2021 9:42 am

We are a few years on from you, but I have been in this situation and it is hard. It sounds like you are already aware that he has additional needs which aren’t necessarily fully identified just yet. If it comes out like that again. I would just speak up and be factual. “Yes that’s my son you’re talking about. We know his behaviour can be challenging snd we are working on putting support in place as he has additional needs.” And then I would leave it. I think doing this would be incredibly brave and would teach these parents a bloody lesson. Be the bigger person. You will find your people. It IS isolating parenting children like ours. But you mustn’t internalise that shame and be open about the struggles - it will only help people understand more rather than judge. Some people will withdraw and others will have compassion. It’s a journey as cliched as that is. When I think back the years between preschool and year three at school I just had no idea - so if you are getting on top of things early then brilliant snd kudos to you. My child has now been diagnosed with ADHD and ASD and i can’t even tell you how much change we’ve experienced in a short time. He’s doing well. But it’s hard. Good luck. ❤️
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Cinders
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Re: coffee morning mothers having a go at my son and me without realising I was in the room

Postby Cinders » Mon Oct 25, 2021 9:54 am

With hindsight I wish I’d read a book called Love Bombing by Oliver James….think it would have gone some way to help bringing up our challenging and recently diagnosed ADHD son (he’s now 18)…might be worth a read? All the best.
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Starr
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Re: coffee morning mothers having a go at my son and me without realising I was in the room

Postby Starr » Mon Oct 25, 2021 11:29 am

The fact is a group of grown women decided to use a coffee morning to gossip about a small child and their mother. I have heard these sorts of conversations and I never joined in. In fact I rember calling a mother out, at a similar age with a child who was facing difficulties. He is so different now as it happens. Of course you support and offer help, not shun.
This is a reason why I avoided these gossipy groups and find people on your wavelength. Don't be afraid to call them out. You are doing your best and he's only little.
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dudette
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Re: coffee morning mothers having a go at my son and me without realising I was in the room

Postby dudette » Mon Oct 25, 2021 3:23 pm

I'm very sorry this has happened to you so early in your son's school career. I'm afraid it's just a fact that women bond over gossip and as they presumably don't know each other very well, your son has become an obvious target for that gossip. You asked for advice - I would certainly not recommend you send an email to the class. In my experience emails can backfire and you don't want to be met with a wall of silence. Some of the parents from my daughter's Reception class have become my closest friends (she's now in the 6th form!) so you really don't want to fall out with people or become a target for gossip yourself. The good news is that people will generally not judge you on your son's behaviour once they get to know you. There was a child in my son's class who was very difficult but his mother was lovely and was friendly with everyone. Try and develop some friendships among the class. Pick out people you think you might get on well with and invite them out for a coffee. You can tell them about the problems you have had with your son and what you are trying to do about it and I'm sure word will spread that you are aware of the issues he's facing. Go to as many get-togethers as you possibly can so you get to know everyone. Be friendly and off-load if you need to - as well as gossip, women bond by telling each other their problems. There will always be some people who aren't worth the time but hopefully there will be a few gems among them you can forge lasting friendships with.

And the other thing I suggest is you write to your MP about our ridiculously early school starting age. Very few other countries start formal education as young as we do. Finland doesn't start until children are 7 and they have the best educational outcomes in the world. I worked in a school Reception class once and it was completely obvious that some children (quite a lot actually and especially boys) were far too young to be starting school. They were unable to sit still and got labelled as trouble-makers, labels that no doubt will have stuck with them throughout their time at the school. At this age, children should just be socialising with their peers. There is no need for them to learn to read this young; some of them can barely speak! Play is how children learn - not sitting on a carpet in front of a teacher and being told to sit still and be quiet when all they want to be doing is mucking around in a sandpit. Childhood is so short and we make it even shorter by expecting too much of them. 
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CraftandArt
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Re: coffee morning mothers having a go at my son and me without realising I was in the room

Postby CraftandArt » Mon Oct 25, 2021 3:46 pm

Definitely email the class! That will set aside any gossiping, and enable the other parents to be more understanding.

We had exactly this situation at the beginning of this term in Reception, where a mother explained her child’s first week of “unpredictable behaviour” to the other parents via a post in our class WhatsApp group. She didn’t need to, but the teachers hadn’t mentioned it and every so often my child mentioned another child being scratched (I’m sure that child’s parents had the situation explained to them, but it was not explained to the rest of us so we just had mutterings from 4-year olds, which we tried to piece together with other parents we knew)

The mother’s message was incredibly well received as it explained the situation, leaving no room for confusion and offering ways in which we could be supportive. Responses were “thank you - it’s very kind and thoughtful of you to share this with us” “what an honest and open post. I can’t imagine it’s easy for you either. Is there any way our kids can help or be more understanding?” etc. This also opened the door for other parents to mention their own children’s learning difficulties, and the whole experience was just overwhelmingly positive.

I hope this is useful, I just thought it was a fantastic way to deal with the situation in an open and positive way.
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Argo
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Re: coffee morning mothers having a go at my son and me without realising I was in the room

Postby Argo » Tue Oct 26, 2021 10:01 am

Thanks so much for all of your very lovely and helpful replies. I think that I will send an email to explain the situation and hope that it is as well received as the one you mention Artsandcrafts.
Gives me lots of faith that things will get better xx
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parentpractice
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Re: coffee morning mothers having a go at my son and me without realising I was in the room

Postby parentpractice » Sun Oct 31, 2021 2:47 pm

Hello Argo

I just wanted to reach out and ask how you decided to take this forward?

I'm afraid we live in a society which expects children and adults to conform. Many are quick to judge those who present differently, and if our children behave inappropriately we often believe the behaviour is a reflection on our parenting, and that any criticism is directed at us.

The notion that our children may be shunned in the school group at such a young age, for being different, breaks our hearts and being judged by others can be one of our biggest fears. It was something I experienced regularly when my son was a similar age, and that's when the story of how I trained as a parenting coach began.

Irrespective of how you decided to deal with this particular incident, it does sound as if you are worried about your son's behaviour and he may not be being a problem, but having a problem, and you may be confused and unable to understand where the behaviour is coming from.

I'm glad you have some sort of professional support and am guessing the SENCO at school is involved? It's easy to feel overwhelmed and anxious if things don't feel quite right and you are at a loss of what's really going on. Happy to chat to you Mum to Mum if you need some support, and really hope the other parents are understanding and compassionate.

Take care Elaine
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Kat15
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Re: coffee morning mothers having a go at my son and me without realising I was in the room

Postby Kat15 » Mon Nov 01, 2021 8:42 am

I think it would be very useful to communicate the issues to the other parents. I remember some parents in our school Whatsapp dropping this into a communication in a very normal way as part of a discussion... Something like 'Xxx has additional needs so we found xxx experience more challenging.' It definitely helps encourage understanding and I've also had conversations with my DC about being understanding and ways to react where I've known that children experience more challenges.
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Vicki W
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Re: coffee morning mothers having a go at my son and me without realising I was in the room

Postby Vicki W » Mon Nov 01, 2021 9:21 am

I would definitely explain your son's needs and how his behaviour can be challenging. As the mother of a daughter that was on the receiving end of challenging behaviour, it would have been helpful if the other parents had acknowledged their children's impact on ours. As it was, in the end I had to take her out of that school for her safety and wellbeing. We became the target of the gossips and the teachers also were an issue as they didn't want to acknowledge that this behaviour was harming her.
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CheekychappieMum
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Re: coffee morning mothers having a go at my son and me without realising I was in the room

Postby CheekychappieMum » Mon Nov 01, 2021 6:53 pm

I sympathise, having been in your situation years ago. The trauma from trying to fix my son´s behaviour is still with me. I attempted to hide it for ages from the rest of the mums from embarrassment, whilst other mums were calling me directly to complain as was the school - constantly. I cannot recommend this advice I am going to give you enough. 1) Speak to Elaine at the Parent Practice (she has already contacted you). I wish I had known about the The PP at the time. I have read Elaine´s book and follow her work. I am not connected to her practice but I understand precisely what it does and I wish I´d contacted her. You will need professional help from someone like Elaine who can help you re-channel a child´s behaviour as well as lead you to understand what the root cause of his challenges are. As she has already stated, he is having a problem as opposed to being a problem. 2) This is a huge issue for you and keeping it to yourself will eat away at you over time. An email to the class is a great idea and I think that can work after a particularly challenging incident & generate very useful discussion but I would actually phone every single mum in the class first to tell them that you´re aware your child is having challenges and that you´re taking concrete steps to help him overcome his  difficulties. They will be bowled over by the trouble you have taken to be honest on an individual basis and some will actually tell you they had no idea and others will tell you their own stories. They will all respect you for being honest. Do not give away too much information on facts at this point. As little info as possible is best because you need those parents as allies, their children will be helping you in the journey your own child has to make to model his behaviour on theirs and for that you will need 1:1 playdates to build up rapport so outlining horror stories will not help. The support I got from my individual phone calls meant a lot to me. And it took the wind out of the sails of the gossiping complaining ones because I had made the issue public. 3) Please feel free to PM me for any advice whatsoever or to simply offload. I have a library of books and a wealth of information and experience and an empathetic ear, I would hate for another mother to feel in the dark as I did. Again, for professional advice I cannot stress enough: please phone Elaine. 4) Adopting the following mindset has helped me enormously over the years: Try to separate your son´s behaviour from you as a person in your own right. He is him and You are you. You are going to help him but that doesn´t mean you need to absorb and assimilate every aspect of his behaviour as if it were you stuffing it up. Allow yourself to continue to be the person you were before you had children so that your son´s behaviour doesn´t erode away who you really are. I spent many years in fear for what each school day might bring, apologising for my son´s mistakes, absorbing his challenges and blaming myself. Keep us posted.
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