Talk to Us

I love Desert Island Discs. I love the way memories and life’s turning points are shared – allowing us a peep into the motivations, insecurities, emotions, relationships and dreams of people in the public eye. People we think we know, but seldom do.

Listening to Lord Prescott on the programme this week I was moved by his telling of how he was asked to “testify against” his father in the days when divorce was only granted if blame could be apportioned – if somebody was found to be “at fault”. He also spoke of the emotional responsibilities he assumed as the oldest child when his parents split.

The relationship troubles of adults can be a heavy burden on a child, one they will often carry through to adulthood. I was reminded of a recent conversation with an Aunt and Uncle – a couple I stayed with frequently as a child. They were fun, seemingly irresponsible and we were never witness to the petty but overwhelming squabbles and fights of home which challenged our sense of security. Now married myself, I wonder about the reliability of my memories of the marital harmony I found in my Uncle’s home. I asked my Uncle if he and my Aunt argued much. My husband and I certainly do! He said no. He described how when he married my Aunt he was determined not to relive the pattern of arguments and violence he had experienced as a child. He felt he couldn’t live a life with more conflict. To protect himself he knew he would rather be alone than argue. That’s a tough call and I am struck by his resolve. But it is a determination grown out of fear and unhappiness. My Uncle may have been successful in his quest to break the cycle, his siblings were not. Family tales of alcohol abuse, aggression and violence continue.

This week I also received a copy of the new video from Relate as part of their Talk To Us campaign, highlighting the pain of children caught up in the break up and relationship problems of their parents.

I confess I didn’t even know that Relate provided counselling services to children. I thought they only helped couples in crisis. Times have changed since my Uncle and Lord Prescott were children, but the fear and the anger are the same. We may think we talk more, young people today certainly seem to share all manner of emotions on the stages of Facebook and Twitter, yet evidence suggests that when parents are facing relationship problems or a break up the feelings of isolation and assuming blame remain. It is at these times when professional support and counselling is invaluable and it is good to know that it is available from Relate. Who knew?


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