Case Study – Family 3

(Names have been changed to ensure anonymity).

Donna is seventeen and has been excluded from the family home by her mother Betty. She has been in trouble with the police and is at present serving a reparation order following an assault on another female.


Betty's interview

Betty has the following issues with Donna's behaviour:

  • Spends most of the time in bed sleeping
  • Has a bad attitude, shows no respect, taunts her in front of other people
  • Doesn't do jobs when asked, says she will but doesn't do them
  • Pulls faces and flies into a rage
  • Has been in trouble since the age of ten, was bullied at school and then turned into a bully. She played truant many times. She was expelled from school for criminal damage and is presently on probation for assaulting a 23 year old together with another person. She is presently on an anger management course.
  • Moving due to problems caused by what Donna said to a neighbour, resulting in him smashing all the windows of the home.

What Betty thinks Donna might say about her:

  • She is always nagging
  • Has a go at her in front of other people

Betty thinks that the best solution to the problem would be for Donna to move out and have her own place.

There are two other children, Billy age 8 who lives at home full time and David age 12 who lives part-time with his dad and part-time at home. There are no behaviour problems with Billy but David is starting to display the same behaviour as Donna towards Betty. Betty says she feels she wants to hurt Donna sometimes, that's why she wants her to move out.

When Betty felt threatened some months ago, she didn't sleep in the house for approximately 3 months, she just visited sometimes during the daytime. Donna was left to look after the house, and to her credit did it very well. Since Betty has returned to the family home, Donna thinks the house is hers, does everything she wants, thinks she is the boss.

5/6 years ago Betty was in a relationship that became violent. Her boyfriend of that time physically abused Donna who was approximately 12 at that time.

Betty is moving to a house in another part of the Borough soon which is a 3 bed property. Her present boyfriend is moving from London with his 2 children to live with her. There will be 4 children excluding Donna living at the next address. This is another reason why it would be better for Donna to have her own place. Betty would support her in her own tenancy.

Betty is not working at present but would like to go back to work soon. She realises there is a lack of communication between herself and Donna and would like to attend a Face-2-Face mediation session soon.


Donna's interview

Donna has the following issues with mother (Betty):

  • Donna is told she does things wrong, but she doesn't think she has. Her mom gives no explanation of the problem.
  • She expects her to help because she is the eldest child
  • She hints instead of asking directly
  • She sees genuine mistakes as 'wind-ups'.
  • She takes things out on Donna when she has had a bad day.
  • She is stuck in hurt and the past.
  • She sometimes seems to be judgmental when she is really trying to help.

Donna says Betty makes many references to things that happened in the past with her ex-boyfriend Greg, adding that he put a barrier in between them and made her mom 'cold hearted' and 'turned her against me'. He physically assaulted Donna. Donna was bullied at school and together with the problems she had at home, she 'went off the rails' has self-harmed and received counselling and psychiatric help. She is on a reparation order at present and was fined for assaulting a 23yr old female along with another person.

Says mom might say this about her:

  • She doesn't always show respect
  • She argues instead of talking
  • She doesn't keep room tidy

Donna says there is a lack of communication between herself and her mom and mom is disappointed and scared about her going off the rails. Donna says she couldn't think about anyone except herself because she was hurting so much. That's how she retaliated because she could see how much he was hurting her mom. Donna feels she and her mom need some way or somebody to help them be honest and not to hurt each other.

Donna likes her mom's new boyfriend - stating "she's got a good one there" and adding that he helps them out and lends her money. Donna says she gets on well with his two daughters and that they are like sisters, she baby-sits for them sometimes but that is rare at the moment because they are saving for a holiday.

Betty has offered Donna support to have her own place. She does want independence but would like to live with mom for around 6 months until offered independent accommodation. Donna feels they won't argue so much and will get on better and is positive about the future as she has a placement for college and wants to stick at it.

Both Betty and Donna agreed to attend a face to face meeting.


The Face to Face Meeting

The meeting was difficult for both parties but they described to each other the issues they had, the effect they had upon them and their lifestyles and what they would like to change. Following full and frank discussions around all of their issues an agreement was reached about how they could move forward in a more positive way and to rebuild their relationship.

Donna returned to the family home for a short period, completed her reparation order and has not re-offended to date. She was allocated independent, supported accommodation by the Youth Offending Service, which she accepted and mom Betty is supporting her and helping her to settle in and make it a comfortable home.

The mediation case was closed shortly after and no further help has been requested.