Family Support Case Study

By Valentina Alfano

As a family support worker my job is never boring, and things are never the same week to week. A big part of working with people in family support means sharing new experiences, talking, and learning from one another.

Two weeks ago, during one of the parent breakfasts, one of the mums, whose first language is not English, became upset, as we were discussing bullying, and it was the first time she had come across it. To her it was a phenomenon.

This mother has a daughter of 12 years old in year 7, and they moved in this country three years ago. For the mum it has been very difficult to be involved in the child’s life at school because of the language barrier.

In the last two months, this mum started to note a change of behaviour in her child. The young girl became less talkative, she ate less food and became a bit more aggressive in her tone of voice, when speaking to her mother. She also stopped wanting her mother to take her at school or be picked up in the afternoon.

Her mum became worried about this new behaviour and shared her concerns with a friend, who told her that what she described were clear signs of someone who is being bullied. The mother had never heard of bullying before, so when her friend started to describe it, she felt quite faint. When she started to talk about it during the breakfast at the cafe, others mums knew exactly what was going on. ‘The young girl is growing up and she is becoming a teenager.’ they said.

This event opened a big discussion around important topics, like bullying, being a teenager and how these things effect the relationship with the parents, schooling, and other aspects of life.

It was so good to see how parents can be supportive of each other and how, just through their experiences, they can help others to understand what is going on with their children, how to spot the signs if there is something wrong and how to act in certain situations.

In this case, at the the end of the session the mum began to build an undserstanding about bullying. Later the school could confirm that the young lady was doing well and there were no signals that she was suffering any bullying from other children. The mother began to reflect about her daughter becoming a teenager, and recalled her own behaviour being similar at that age.

Before she left the room this mother said, ‘I feel so much better; I couldn’t sleep at night anymore. I wouldn’t have expected her to grow up so fast, but I am happy to know that this is something other parents experience and that I am not alone.’

Valentina Alfano



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