A mother told the court that she no longer wanted to file a Beyond Parental Control immediately after her daughter received a 2-year care and supervision order in an institution. At that point, she realised that utilising the court to win back her child had backfired as she would instead be losing her for 2 years. She endured a harsh reprimand for wasting State resources but although she was red-faced and shaken, she found much comfort in being able to bring her 15-year-old daughter home.
On several occasions since June, we have been impressing on this mother not to utilise the legal system for the welfare of her daughter. The law can be a blunt instrument and a Beyond Parental Control Order amounts to parents abdicating their child-rearing responsibility to the State because they admittedly can no longer guide their child. In her mind, she believed that the court will only order her daughter to listen to her and nothing more. Even though we told her that no one could guarantee that, she proceeded to file the order.
This mother had spent most of her childhood growing up in an institution as her family could not care for her. In moments of frustration she would insist that children like her daughter needed to be disciplined in an institution. She would also insist that she turned out fine and so she cannot see any cause for alarm. In more placid moments, she would tell us that being raised in an institution and a family are two very different experiences. We concur with her as we have observed that those who were raised in institutions tend to be rather harsh in their parenting approach and easily regard institutions as a viable solution for their parenting challenges.
Her daughter tells us that she ran away because mom could never listen and only did things her way. She disliked having to clean offices with mom during weekends. The pay was okay, but mom would insist that every cent is saved for a rainy day. Also, she wished that she could spend weekends hanging out with friends. Now, mom grants her a little more time with friends after school, but she is not to leave the neighbourhood. Mom believes that when she remains in the neighbourhood she is less likely to get into trouble because neighbours care about her. Mom’s biggest fear is that she gets pregnant.
Having missed school for about a month, she is now being isolated from her class and given work to catch up. “My teacher tells me that I can join my class when I have caught up with my lessons. It is not fun studying alone and I think they consider me a bad girl since I have been in remand. They think I will be bad influence for my classmates.”
There is an uneasy peace between mother and daughter now, but both realise that family problems are best resolved within the family. At this point, the one thing they both agree is that an institution is not a home and they need to find a better way to manage their disagreements.
Enjoy your weekend.
Society needs both justice and compassion, a head and a heart, if it is to be civilised. – Julian Baggini