“I was referred to the NSPCC by social services because they were worried that I wasn’t giving my 2-year-old son, Nathan*, enough attention to meet his needs.
“I had suffered from domestic violence when I was younger and with Nathan’s dad, James*. I was drinking a lot to black out my problems. I would get drunk so that I didn’t have to deal with the pain or with the stresses of the relationships. A few years earlier I’d mixed myself a big cocktail of different drinks and tried to cut my wrists and I was heading that way again.
“I’d drink 2 or 3 times a week and once I started I didn’t know when to stop. I was bordering on being an alcoholic. I didn’t think about the effect on my children. When I was hungover I didn’t have the energy to play with Nathan or his older brother and sister, Mathew and Sarah*. I wasn’t there for them when they wanted to speak to me and I often scared them by snapping at them.
"I had low confidence and low self-esteem and I would cry all of the time. I didn't value myself or even like myself."
“I would see to Nathan’s physical needs by feeding him and changing him but I wasn’t meeting his emotional or psychological needs as I was so wrapped up in my own problems. I would leave him to do his own thing and I wouldn’t bother with him.
“I had low confidence and low self-esteem and I would cry all of the time. I didn’t value myself or even like myself. I didn’t leave the house other than to take the older two to school and to go to the case conferences to decide the future of the children.
“I’d completed a few parenting courses before, so when I was told that I’d been referred to the NSPCC’s Parents Under Pressure programme I felt like I was being picked on. I was a bit sceptical when I first met Anthony from the NSPCC but he was very friendly. The sessions happen in your own house, which helped relax me and Nathan too.
"I play with the kids a lot now and really enjoy doing it."
“I didn’t know how to play with Nathan but Anthony taught me how to get down to his level. A few weeks into the course, I sat doing a jigsaw with him, something I previously wouldn’t have had the patience to do. I play with the kids a lot now and really enjoy doing it. My behavior used to be erratic and I wouldn’t make plans with them but now I plan fun activities for them all like movie nights.
“While I was growing up, I was scared of my mum and step dad and I didn’t want my children to be scared of me. I learnt how to change the way I spoke to them.
“Social services were also concerned that Nathan’s speech wasn’t as developed as it should be. Anthony helped me to work with him to teach him new words and I soon saw an improvement.
“Before I came to the NSPCC I was having a lot of panic attacks and I felt like I was going to have a breakdown. Anthony taught me how to cope with the panic attacks and how to calm myself down. I realised that I’d used alcohol to block out some problems from my past and once I stopped drinking I had to face things. Anthony helped me open up and I talked a lot about different things that had affected me. He didn’t judge me, he listened to me and allowed me to go at my own pace.
"He didn't judge me, he listened to me and allowed me to go at my own pace."
“During the programme I saw that I was changing for the better but James hadn’t joined in with the course and was still drinking. I decided I had to end things with him for the sake of the children as it wasn’t fair on them to see us arguing so much when he was drinking. He also said I couldn’t change my life but I knew I wanted to do better. Anthony gave me the courage to apply for a course to become a counsellor to help other people who have struggled with drink or drugs.
“If it wasn’t for the Parents Under Pressure programme my children would still have been on the Child Protection Plan. My relationship with the children has improved no end and I’m a lot more loving with them. When I was drinking all the time I didn’t realise things could even be as good as they are now.”