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Author Topic: Returning to UK with 7 year-old Son  (Read 4203 times)

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Offline dreddie

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Returning to UK with 7 year-old Son
« on: January 28, 2013, 06:07:54 AM »
Hello Everybody,

Let me Introduce myself. I'm a single father currently living and working in Thailand. I've been here 12 years, married, divorced, and am the single father of a lovely 7 year-old son.

I've recently been offered a good job back home in the UK and I've accepted the offer. However, this has caused me a lot of worry.

It's been 15 years since I've been back home and while I have a great family support network here in Thailand, who help me take good care of my son, I have none in the UK. I want to bring my son with me, his future prospects are better in the UK and, besides, I love him and want him with me.

I have little idea of what help there is in the UK for working single parents. I'll be working from 8.30 to 5.30 5 days a week and initially won't be earning enough to pay for full time child care. I'm also not sure how to go about selecting a child-carer in the first place, are the licensed and CRB checked?

I'll be living in Manchester and would really appreciate any advice and information from other parents on this forum. I want to provide the best care for my son while still working to support both of us. Thanks all in advance.

Offline Cushion Plumper

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Re: Returning to UK with 7 year-old Son
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2013, 10:58:48 AM »
Hi there,

my advice would be to return to the UK a good few months before you start work here.  That way, you and your son can find a place to live, check out what areas are near a good school etc and then see if you can get your son settled in to a new school and routine, get him familiar with people etc before you start work.  If he is leaving all of his family behind and will only have you in the UK then I think it will be very hard for him to be spending so much time with childminders during the week right from the off.  Although you are doing what you believe is best for him long term, the reality is that this young lad will be plucked from the heart of everyone/everything he loves and knows straight into a foreign country full of strangers and a different culture.

The school you enrol him to will more than likely have an after school club, so that will cover your childcare until you finish work.  However, most good schools require you to live in their catchment area first, so trying to find him a good school whilst you are still in Thailand may be difficult.  You will need to provide a school with documents showing your address for that catchment area, hence you coming here earlier and finding a tenancy somewhere.

I presume your son has dual/British citizenship?  If so then you will have no problem claiming the benefits that you are entitled to as a single parent (assuming that you are a British national).
Finding the local Citizens Advice Bureau in the home town where you settle will be a great help to you as you can make an appointment with them and they will let you know all your entitlements and how to apply for them.  There are tax credits available to parents who earn under a certain income that assists in the costs of child care.  You may need to enquire in advance whether the salary you are coming here on is above or below that threshold.  If you do not qualify for it, then an example of after school care at my son's school is £7 from school ending until 6pm and £20 for a full day in school holidays.  Tax credits can pay up to 80% of this, although this may be changing soon.

How does your son feel about this move?  You do not mention his contact with his mother - is there any?  Do you not need her permission to bring your son here in the first place?

Keep active with this forum as the northerners tend to have a lot of local meet ups of parents and children and it will be a great introduction for you to make friends and your son too.
It doesn't matter where you go in life, what you do or how much you have; it's who you have beside you...

Offline Tulip

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Re: Returning to UK with 7 year-old Son
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2013, 10:14:28 PM »
I think Cushion Plumper makes some good points. I was also wondering about your sons mum.  The wording you used "I want to bring my son with me" made it sound like you aren't his only carer but maybe that's just how I interpreted it.  If he does have a relationship with his mum then moving him away will be very hard.  As said its a good idea to come here beforehand to check out schools etc although with the Internet I guess you could do this from there.  That said you can't beat that getting a feel for a place. As for schools, many do have after school clubs but don't just assume. My 12 year old goes to a village middle school which is fantastic but typical if many villages it doesn't have any before or after school clubs even though it has almost 500 pupils. 

Offline dreddie

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Re: Returning to UK with 7 year-old Son
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2013, 05:32:35 AM »
Thank you very much for the replies. I plan to work in the UK for at least 3 months before bringing my son over. I want to have everything ready, house, car, and so on before he arrives. I am a British national and so is he. He has little contact with his mum right now, perhaps once or twice a month. We share a house with his aunt and she takes care of him while I'm at work. She will also take care him while I am arranging our new life in the UK.

 I don't want him to lose contact with his mother but as she will not be coming with us I'm afraid most contact will be over skype and the occasional visit back to her home country. I can't really see any other options but I am absolutely sure that I want them both to stay in contact.

My son himself is very excited about moving to the UK, he understands that his mother will not be coming with us and he is, of course, unhappy about this. He says he still wants to come and stay with me though as daddy is always with him and he rarely sees mummy and when he does she is always angry. I have talked with him many times about this move and have been as honest and open as I can be with a little boy who will be 7 in July.

I do not need his mothers permission to take him, I have a court order giving me 100% custody. I have, however, already talked with her about this and she understands that the UK will provide a better environment and a better education for him. She will not make any objections.

Cushion Plumper, your point about taking him from all he's known to a new country is a very valid one and one that worries me greatly. He does speak fluent English and I have done my best to expose him to what I can of British culture, really that means stories, books, talks, and kids TV. He's particularly excited about visiting the country Thomas the tank Engine comes from :)

Thank you both for the input. It really helps to be able to chat with people in similar situations as, being so far from home right now, I feel very alone in dealing with this situation. After a long absence from the UK I am really unsure about just what life for a single dad will be like. I especially appreciate what has been said about after school clubs. After reading your posts I did some checks on schools in the are I plan to live, Chorlton in Manchester, and there are three schools in the are which have both very high Ofsted ratings and after-school clubs. Later today I will email those schools for more details on their admission procedures and other requirements.


Offline Cushion Plumper

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Re: Returning to UK with 7 year-old Son
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2013, 05:53:07 PM »
Hi again,
 
I've been thinking about your situation and some other things you may wish to consider too.

If your son was to be ill and physically sick then the school and afterschool/childminder/school holiday
club etc have a policy that the child cannot attend for 48 hrs after the last vomit in order to try and keep the bug from being passed on.  Therefore, you will have to take time off work to care for him with no notice to your employers at all.  You may wish to check with you prospective employers what their policy is for single parents/flexible working etc.  My employers are very good and we are allowed 3 parental days per year without losing pay or holiday in order to care for our children in an emergency, but these days are only so that we can find longer term care if it is required.  Not all employers offer this, so you may need to consider in the event that your son becomes ill with a bug for a few days, or gets chickenpox etc how you will cover his day to day care over a longer period of time.

I have been a 24/7 carer of my son in a foreign country with no family or friends to help and it really is very hard work and extremely draining.  I did not do it out of choice and to be honest, I would never recommend anyone do it out of choice, as you literally have NO time to yourself.  After a while I managed to build up some friends who would help me out when required but sometimes I think it's easier for women to mix with other women and ask for help rather than men mix with other women or indeed other men (very rare I find - afterall, there are few father and baby groups around but plenty of mother and baby groups!).

Be prepared for some very hard times ahead with your lad as I think he will possibly react like a bereaved child for some time, especially if his family in Thailand will be having him full on for three months whilst you're in the UK and then he has to leave them.  The first few weeks/month may seem like a holiday and go smoothly, but when he realises he's never going 'home' it could be pretty hard for him.  You will have to be extremely patient and attentive, even when you are tired and drained or ill yourself.  You will be leaving work every day and having your son's company EVERY night - no socialising with new colleagues or being able to get out and about and find friends of your own.  From Friday evening to Monday morning for the next SIX YEARS or so you are unlikely to get much time for yourself, to pursue a new relationship or hobby or sport.  I was going to suggest you join his school PTA in order to get to know other parents who may offer to help you out, but then you'd have to find a babysitter in order to go to the PTA meetings etc as it's adults only.

I am still a 24/7 parent, not in a relationship, but I do have family I can rely on and count on when my son is ill, they will babysit for me once a week so I can go out and as I work part time I am not rushed off my feet in a full time job so I do get some 'me' time and time to do the housework, shopping, washing and ironing when my son is at school and this does free up my time with him at the weekend.  If I worked full time and then had to spend my weekends catching up on the housework, gardening, washing, ironing, shopping, taking my son to football matches without anyone else in the network I think I'd crack under the strain.

Do you realise what a mammoth task you are actually taking on?  Is this job in the UK actually worth it?

Would you be able to do a trial run in Thailand for a whole month and look after your son or arrange his care without the help of family and friends and purely rely on paid professional services for the childcare etc and see how it goes?  Spend your whole weekends with him and no one else you know, so go out to places and do new things, meet new people, then go home shattered after all this and repeat on Sundays, then go home and get ready for a full weeks work, making sure you finish on time to collect him before the childcare club closes (remember you will have no one to fall back on to ask them to get him if you're running late), get home, cook tea, go through his homework, etc etc.  See how he reacts to not seeing family - just speaking to them on the phone/skype?  This will at least give you a taster of what you're letting yourself in for for many years to come!
It doesn't matter where you go in life, what you do or how much you have; it's who you have beside you...

Offline Tulip

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Re: Returning to UK with 7 year-old Son
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2013, 07:28:35 PM »
I do think you are taking on a lot and as said you need to be sure this job is worth it. Another thing is that this country isn't what is was when you left it. You say your son will have a better life but many kids leaving education today will not find jobs for many years,  even the ones with degrees. Some experts believe in years to come this generation will be talked about in history and known as the lost generation so be sure if is better for him. Sorry to go on about family again but you say he only sees his mum once or twice a month. That's between 12 and 24 times a year. How often will he see her if he moves? She may be grumpy but she's still the only mum he has. This may come back to bite you when he's older as he may blame you if he has no relationship with his mum or aunt, gran etc. There are many single parents who have a chance of what they think is a better life elsewhere (me being one) but wouldn't take the child away from the other parent. I'm not trying to be horrible just think you need to think long and hard. A good question to ask yourself is how would you feel if you could only see your son every few years or so.

Best of luck with everything

Offline Ms_wormwood

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Re: Returning to UK with 7 year-old Son
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2013, 07:42:10 AM »
Hi. I moved from the UK to switzerland with my 3yr old. Not exactly the same issues as CP mentioned but some. Don't be put off. I have  no family here and only had one friend when i moved. Now i have a great network. I moved into flats where there was a kid next door of a similar age and offered to babysit straight away and now we often look out for each other. As for school, most working parents have these issues, obviously a couple halves the load in theory but not often in practice. You will cope. Around 20% of children  grow up in single parent homes so there is understanding. Here it's 7% and it's still doable. Also, Switzerland is not set up for dual income families, whereas the UK is.
By the way, i combine work and kid socialising. We go to a cafe rather than a pub, and some other people have kids so we meet at weekends etc.
Guys be gentle with the man. The UK can't be that much worse then when I left.

Edited to correct typing and to say OK, yes it is, and will be even worse from April, but we don't know the situation in Thailand either.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2013, 09:46:51 AM by Ms_wormwood »
Onwards and upwards.

Offline Cushion Plumper

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Re: Returning to UK with 7 year-old Son
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2013, 09:35:06 AM »
The UK can't be that much worse then when I left.

Oh yes it is.  And next year we will be opening the flood gates to Romania!

The future for jobs here is bleak, that is why I agreed to let my son go ahead and obtain his Australian Citizenship because I believe that as an adult he will have better prospects in Oz.  I will leave it up to him to decide where he lives in the future as I will be devastated if he leaves the UK as I'll rarely see him, but I would have been stupid to refuse the dual nationality option for my own selfish reasons.  If he wants to go to Uni then it will be cheaper for him to go in Oz than it will be here too.
It doesn't matter where you go in life, what you do or how much you have; it's who you have beside you...

Offline Ms_wormwood

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Re: Returning to UK with 7 year-old Son
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2013, 09:49:14 AM »
They'll come over, work a few years, pay taxes, and then go back home before they retire so we'll save their pension. Just like the Poles did. I wouldn't worry.
Onwards and upwards.

Offline Silky

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Re: Returning to UK with 7 year-old Son
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2013, 11:56:05 AM »
Just on this point - the future for SOME is bleak and to be honest having just recently advertised for an administrative role, I can see why. Despite being clear the job needed someone meticulous and with an eye for detail, I've lost count of the applications we received littered with bad spelling, or who hadn't read the advert at all. Some didn't even bother to attach a note to say what they were applying for, others wrote in text speak (I kid you not).  One told us she didn't really want the hours we were offering but hoped we'd give her different hours instead.

Everyone who was rejected was sent a polite email offering feedback on their application if they wanted. Not one has come back on that - I'd have been right back were it me !

The unemployment rate has shown a decrease recently, I suspect there'll always be some who fall the wrong side of this - sadly.

Silky x
A positive mental attitude may not solve all your problems but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort"

 

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