One of the major social problems in our nation today is that of absent fathers. Up and down the country there are millions of valiant mothers who are having to handle the parenting challenge all on their own.
We had the chance to help one such mum who was struggling with 3 boys and a girl; aged between 7 and 12 and all growing up fast! Other agencies involved with the family noticed behavioural issues becoming quite problematic, particularly with the eldest son.
Mum herself has health problems and yet we discovered had been putting off hospital treatment as she had no one to look after her kids. This situation had begun to have a serious impact on her health. Ultimately she needed surgery that would mean a hospital stay of a whole week.
Safe Families offered support in the form of befriending and also hosting weekend respite stays for the children with caring families in the wider area, plus a full week stay during the hospitalisation. The two younger siblings were placed with one Host Family and the two older siblings with another.
One of the outcomes of the hosting that has been a tremendous encouragement has been the way in which the eldest son has bonded with his Host Family. It is just so apparent that he is thriving with a male role model in his life. His relationship with his mum which had begun to break down has been restored and his pathway towards serious problems seems to have been averted.
What’s the secret? Well, according to the Host Family, it’s just “normal family stuff” – board games, model-making, walks outdoors, fun at the beach, playing the Wii with the older teenagers in the host family.
Host dad admits “We were nervous to start with but it’s gone really well. As parents we’re confident with our own kids and so we’re just using those parenting skills with these kids that we have the privilege of spending the weekend with once a month.”
He adds “We’ve simply started to see the two boys as part of our extended family. It’s calmer here for them, and they get a bit more attention. We talk about things together in a low key way and that seems to be helping.”
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