There was never a single point in time when I remember actually sitting my kids down and telling them about dads in time care and all that goes with it. But that said there’s never been a time when they’ve never known about my time in care. It’s just as if it’s been part of our lives as a family since we’ve been a family.
Before children I couldn’t have imagined having a family of my own. It’s not something I’d ever thought of. All my peers and friends had families and I used to think they were jealous of my freedoms. Sex drugs and rock’n’roll. Pub on the weekend and chilling and working during the week. Child abuse never entered my head for many years. Being a victim of the system? That was different. Of course I’d had a ‘hard’ time growing up, but didn’t we all? It seems not.
My first was born in 1994. Her arrival was apocalyptic to my existence as it was then. Everything changed. Protective? Too much. Aware of the dangers of the big world? Eyes wider than owls. Forever there? Ongoing. I was blessed with a mini me. This mini me wasn’t going to know about child abuse or similar. Why would she have anything to do with abuse? She was mine and I was experienced with what goes with being in care, in the system and in the machine. All I had to do was the opposite of my parents. Thus far it’s paid off.
As they matured and starting asking questions I found it difficult to dilute the events I’d experienced. It got so difficult I stopped trying. I answered their questions with 100% honesty. Even the hard ones such as; why did your mum let them to take you? Why didn’t she fight them? Do you hate her for it? Have you told her what happened? She could have stopped it if she took you home. How big were you? If that was me I’d go mental dad. I did for a while chicken but it didn’t last long.
They’ve always known about my defensive mechanisms such as fighting back and fighting back twice as hard as those who became my opponents. Also known to them are the abuses I suffered. My main angle of approach was to state that the biggest abuse was depriving me of an education. I’ve drilled it into them so much that all three have excelled at educating themselves.
How can you build a house on sand? I used to ask. I explained about foundations and planning involved for any decent future. I explained about the system and about the rulers of said system.
When they reached their teens it was question after question. I couldn’t have avoided the issues even if I’d wanted to. My 18 year old son was and still is a prolific inquirer into my past. He wants to do better than me. He wants me to know I’ve succeeded with him. He doesn’t question any of our parenting tactics as he knows the tools we were working with weren’t the best on offer. Nevertheless we’ve got ourselves an academic genius who is currently the shot put champion of Wales and ranked third in the UK for his age group. His academic abilities are without any doubts beyond me. His athletics career has gone from strength to strength. He started at the age of seven and hasn’t missed a training session since then. He’s represented his county, country and club and has won too many awards to mention. My past has benefited him because that’s the way I planned it. Ditto my daughter.
On the 22nd February 1978 I was whisked off to care. It’ll be 37 years this year and guess what? I have a 10 year old boy who is more mini me than the other two combined. We’ve discussed it and have agreed to mark the day with an event of some sort. To imagine him being taken from me at this age is to imagine hell in my mind. Admittedly, my mother and step father had five kids to deal with but that doesn’t dilute the emotions one feels when you were the only one out of five to be taken.
My 10 year old knows more about my past than most others in my life. He loves to hear the stories; the escapades and tales dad remembers and tells him. He hangs on to every word. All my kids have in-depth knowledge of how not to bring up kids. They’ll do well themselves if their current mind-set remains and improves. Rights and wrongs have been instilled into them from a very young age.
Another area which they have gained extra knowledge is about the re-socialisation of ex-care residents. The troubles ex-care kids come across when they have entered the big wide world. The lack of social skills. The deficient tools we’re given to operate with. Not forgetting the communication requirements for anyone looking for work or a social life. None of these were apparent to me when I was 15 years old. I was never taught them and had to learn them the hard way. Usually by having my nose broke or being dismissed from employment for being an unsociable gobby twit. But I got there in the end.
My advice to any abuse victim who’s not yet told their kids about their abuses is to tell them as soon as possible. Now. They’ll love you for it and it’ll give them more time to digest and evaluate you as a parent as they grow and develop into adults themselves. Hide it at your peril. Because like everything else in your life it’ll all come out. Whether you’re dead or alive they will find out. Would you want someone else’s version of your life to be told or your version? Imagine if I let my trolls dictate what memories my grandchildren will have of me. It doesn’t even bare thinking about. Hence my fight against lies with an honesty approach to life. Even if the honesty hurts more than the lies it needs to be said.
My children have been upset with many truths I’ve told them, but over joyed by many more. Anyone who’s ever given me one of them looks and thought; oooh bit too much info for the kids there Daz, has soon disappeared from our lives. We don’t do bullshit in the Lav house.