Does the Perfect Family Exist?

Does the Perfect Family Exist?

I couldn’t think what to write for this week’s prompt but wanted to post something.

At first, I thought I would share some words about one of my kids who is a young adult but has suffered from anxiety, particularly in the winter, all her life. But I have written a bit about that before. Then I read Floss’s post. It resonated with me. I experienced all sorts when I was a child. My dad was a good-looking-wrogen. My mum tried to do the right thing and ended up having a mini breakdown when I was 14. Being self-absorbed I didn’t notice what was happening. But thinking about this made me realise that mental health issues are all around us and children may experience adults in their life having problems. Or, they themselves may have feelings they can not fathom.

From the outside, many families may look ordinary, or appear like a perfect family, without a care in the world. It was then I remembered Dee and her kids.

The Perfect Family

I always tried to be the normal Mum at the primary school gates. Never wanted to stand out for my kids’ sake. However, the alternative mums gravitated towards me and we formed a small group so if one of us was late  or had a problem, another mum would be there to collect the children. We lived in a-joining villages.

One day I picked my two up from Dee’s house and when we got home my youngest said to me.

“Dee was crying in the kitchen and Pete was holding her saying it would all be OK.”

Dee and Pete appeared the perfect couple. Both beautiful with three equally beautiful children. Their small home was comfortable and trendy. I’d envied them. But I was on the outside.

I diplomatically questioned Dee about what my child had seen. She was hesitant, saying it had been a bad day.  Naturally, I was concerned about my friend but was also worried that my kids would be confused in such an environment. I made sure I was the one looking after them. Twice a week I also took home two of hers. This way she could have some much needed alone time.

On the other days, her husband started turning up at the school and we became friends. He began to confide in me. Dee was not at all happy, and probably suffering from depression. He explained she had always had a delicate mental disposition but family life had suited her. Everything appeared fine until a few months prior. Then, she started drinking. He was beside himself as after a binge she’d occasionally bring home a strange man. Drugs were involved too. Pete was doing all he could to get Dee the support she needed.  In his heart, he knew he’d have to move out soon and take the children.

He moved out. She kept the children and as weeks turned into months, and months into years the situation worsened. Many of us tried help but with young families of our own, it was difficult. One day she attempted suicide in front of her children, was admitted to hospital and the kids taken into care

Pete was settled by now, had his own place and a well-paid job. The children had seen enough so he was desperate to have them live with him. Social services wouldn’t allow it, they said he would have to give up work. He argued that it was not viable for him to leave his job and could arrange childcare options for when he was not home. But apparently, this idea was not satisfactory. The children were only allowed to visit at weekends.

Years rolled by and nothing got better.

This is just a true tale of what appeared to be a seemingly perfect family. Looking back I wish I could have done more. The kids are older now and attempting to make their own way in the world. I hope they’re OK.

perfect family
#SB4MH The Perfect Family
Perfect Family
#4 Kids and Mental Health

Header Image from Pixabay


5 thoughts on “Does the Perfect Family Exist?

  1. I always think people look good on paper, but you never really know. This is the struggle I’ve always had with some people at church. They sure look nice in the pews, but I know some of what they do outside of Sunday.

    What a situation for that family though. I’m surprised they hassled the father so much considering a well-paying job should’ve made him more viable an option not less. The kids will have scars, we all do ultimately.

  2. I used to be envious of some ppl I knew. I would think to myself “oh they look so happy, beautiful house, fancy cars and so on.” Then I thought “what if I’m wrong and they’re not happy? What if there is something wrong with one of them (as in a character flaw or something)? I bet they fight more often about money due to those expensive cars…and so on.” Then I wasn’t so envious anymore. lol
    It’s a shame when agencies get involved and think that there is a one size solution that fits everyone. Those kids could have been better off. But because it didn’t fit into what someone else thought was right for the kids, they ended up missing out on valuable time & years with their father. What a shame.
    Thanks for sharing this story.

  3. You can never really know from the outside. Sometimes you can’t know from the inside either; our brains are wired for survival, which often means accepting as ‘normal’ things that are anything but. And since our own behaviors so often follow the patterns that are modeled for us – often in unhealthy environments – dysfunction perpetuates. It *is* the norm now.

    I rarely discuss my childhood. The topic of child support (or lack thereof) came up in conversation with someone a few days ago though, which led down some related tangential topical paths. Rehashing some of the things I went through as a kid, examining those events with now-detached educated-adult understanding… I’m honestly surprised that I turned out as healthily functioning as I did. At the same time, I understand the cycle of dysfunction well enough that I’m well aware of the fact that I’m probably NOT cognizantly aware of the ways I am not-so-healthy in my functioning. (If that makes sense.)

    1. Thanks, Feve for your comment. And yes it makes sense. I believe the same is true of me. I have written several posts about my background on my blog and sometimes people have commented on my “detached, matter of fact” style of writing something so emotive. But I do not have a choice but to write in that manner. I find it liberating to record what happened, cathartic even, but the last thing I want is sympathy or analysing. I am what I am – my past helped shape me – I can’t deny the past but I have always been happy to take responsibility for my future. And if I am dysfunctional, I own it.
      If my children had not been friendly with “Dee’s” kids. I would never have known the family I have written about – but there are so many out there like them, I felt it was worth remembering x

  4. It is so sad when things like this happen. Mental illness can be so destructive to a family if the right support is not available and there just don’t seem to be the right resources to go around. I would hope that social services have a more accommodating approach these days as that sounds awful and unnecessarily destructive. I think we always wish we could do more but I am sure that the help you did give was a great support. ?

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