Life seemed quite relaxed, the girls had settled after the shock of their brother leaving the house. Having only two young people in placement meant that we could give them more time than if we had the original four. The Local Authority was very supportive and both the schools we were dealing with provided excellent contacts and worked well with us. We had a great LA Social Worker and, of course, an excellent Supervising Social Worker. The girls were doing well, they both had made some great friendships and they were achieving excellent grades. The eldest of the two remaining girls appeared to be more like her Dad than her Mum and seemed like she just wanted to be part of the family. She had a great relationship with our own kids and family and she would often help around the house with small jobs like hovering and loading and unloading the dishwasher. The younger girl would help but had to be asked, sometimes more than once. The youngest was definitely her Mothers daughter. Paternal Grandparents called to speak to the girls and, afterwards, asked us if the girls could go down to them at the next half term, we, of course, said yes. We would drive them down and they would bring them back. The girls were very excited and very positive about seeing Nan and Granddad. Nan and Granddad were a very positive influence on the children and it also meant that they would have some contact with their Dad and their Aunt, also people who provided a positive influence. If you looked at Mum and Dad you would not put them together. Dad came from a respectable family who valued good behaviour and education whereas Mum came from quite a dysfunctional background and considered education to be a ‘waste of time’. Unfortunately the four children had spent time with their Mum and she had stopped the paternal family being anywhere near them.

Paternal family had been quite prepared to look after all four children when Mum admitted to struggling mentally. They were horrified that their Grandchildren were going in to care. It would have been far more beneficial for the children to go to their Grandparents. They could have got far more positive input from Grandparents. However they hadn’t had much positive early life input so both us, as Foster Carers, and their paternal family were working as hard as possible to change a few negative attitudes that the girls had originally had, such as their attitude towards education. Mum had very little education, apparently, and was kept at home at a time when Social Services never really got involved in absence from school. Therefore Mum had treated her children the same. This is usually called learned behaviour and it seems to be a common thread in Foster Care and the young people you deal with as a Foster Carer. It’s interesting to see how many young people’s negative behaviour is learned from parents who have gone through very similar issues. So the girls went off to their Grandparents. We had a long drive to ‘deliver’ them and we then spent a couple of days staying down that particular part of the world before driving home. It was nice to have a few days just with our own children and family and just relaxed. The day before they were due back we received, out of the blue, a call from Mum demanding to talk to the girls. We basically just said no without going into any details as we didn’t want to put any pressure on paternal Grandparents.

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