Karen was referred to Fegans Parenting Support Service by her Son’s Social Worker, as she was struggling to manage his behaviour. The Social Worker and I carried out a joint visit to Karen so that I could meet her and she could share her concerns with me regarding her Son.


Karen agreed to support from Fegans and shared that her Son’s Father had been abusive and controlling during their relationship and she had left him when she was seven months pregnant with their Son. Karen went on to say that her Son has regular contact with his Dad but the contact is very controlled and when he returns from Dad, his behaviour is often very challenging. Karen said that she does not like to have face to face contact with her ex-partner and becomes anxious if she has to see him.


Karen shared that the Father of her youngest child was also abusive and controlling and her Son witnessed the domestic abuse that she suffered. Karen’s current partner was extremely supportive and provided a positive male role model in the family home; he also had a good relationship with her Son.


As Karen and I talked and we completed the Family Star (Fegans assessment tool), it was evident that Karen struggled to demonstrate warmth and affection toward her Son as his negative behaviour reminded her of her ex-partner and she was aware of this. Karen was also able to recognise that she tended to react to her Son’s challenging behaviour which served only to continue the negative cycle she was in.


Through regular weekly visits, we were able to identify areas that Karen could work on, predominantly opportunities to build her relationship with her Son by spending time together but also for Karen to implement clear boundaries and use strategies that enabled her to respond in a more productive way to her Son’s more challenging behaviour.


Karen’s partner was very supportive in the whole process and worked with her to instigate and maintain new strategies in the home. Karen was able to put clear boundaries into place regarding her ex-partner so that she felt in control and less anxious. Karen went to her GP regarding her anxiety and was prescribed medication to help manage this.


Karen was a joy to work with as she was open to looking at herself and prepared to look at how she needed to change in order for her Son to change; she was able to identify and acknowledge her own behaviour and weaknesses and was proactive in implementing new strategies and ideas that I suggested in order to achieve change.


Over a relatively short period of time, we agreed to reduce visits as Karen was managing the home situation well and was aware that she could contact me in between appointments should she require additional advice and support.


Karen was able to tell me when she felt ready for my involvement to cease as she felt that with the support of her partner, she had the necessary strategies to help her manage her Son’s more challenging behaviour but most importantly, she felt that she had a better attachment to her Son and their relationship was in a much better place with Karen feeling that she could offer the appropriate emotional warmth and affection to her Son and he would seek her out for cuddles.


Written by one of our Fegans’s Counsellors.  The name and photos have been changed for client confidentiality.