"PLEASE HELP ME UNDERSTAND WHY MY CHILDREN ARE UNDER THREAT"

Therapist A is a counsellor with a psychodynamic approach with experience of working with adults and young people.

What comes across in your letter is your feeling that the authorities are persecuting you. You feel that they have taken control of your family life and that people are talking about you behind your back as a result of their interference.

It is also clear that, in recent years, life has had its difficulties. In addition I imagine that it was not easy for you to come to live in France at the age of 15. The change of language, education system and social structure could have been difficult for you.

It seems possible that the difficulties round the birth of your daughter put too much pressure on you and, maybe, although you donít say, your relationship with your boyfriend. You donít mention your partnerís feelings about all of this. I wonder if your son found it hard being sent away to his grandparents and then returning to find a little sister who needed a lot of your time and attention. Perhaps his anger was expressed in aggressive behaviour at school and maybe at home too. Could this have led to concerns about his family life?

I know that with three young children it is hard to keep a home clean and tidy and also to be patient and loving. However there must have been concerns about the care of your family for the authorities to step in. You experience the people who visit your home as very critical and unhelpful but perhaps there are ways you could co-operate with them and gain their support. Can you ask for their help in making things better?

You need their reports to reflect changes in your home and care of the children for the judge to lift the tutelle. It wonít just go away. The only people who, in the end, can do anything about it are you and your partner. You need to think through how you can make changes to the way you live and manage you family so that the authorities are reassured that all will be well.

Therapist B is a Relate-trained counsellor with experience of working with relationship issues and is an experienced couples counsellor

THERAPIST B IS CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE SO THIS RESPONSE IS FROM A PERSON-CENTRED COUNSELLOR WITH EXPERIENCE OF WORKING WITH CHILDREN AND FAMILIES

You must be finding it very hard to carry on when all of this has been happening and I applaud you for tackling it head-on now and trying to get help. One of the issues I would bring up with you is what your parents' role is in all this? Presumably it was they who alerted the authorities with their concerns rather than talking to you which doesn't sound as if they were being very supportive and helpful to you when you needed help most. Finding yourself in this situation is frightening enough when you are in your own country but here it must be completely terrifying to have the authorities taking control  without it being explained to you properly.  

On this website, there is a list of lawyers HERE or you could ask in the local Notaire's office if they know of a solicitor who speaks English and deals with family matters. Can I suggest you go to see one as soon as you can to find out your legal position? Regarding the children and what the judge has said about the children's home circumstances, you need to be honest with yourself. Is he right? Are you finding it difficult to show love to your children and do you need to improve the cleanliness of your house? 

Everyone dreads the authorities "getting their claws" into them and taking over, but sometimes it can be a positive thing which doesn't always mean removal of the children, but can provide support for you to get it right for them. Try not to panic as that will not be helpful for you or your children. 

If you know deep down that there is some truth in what the judge says about your behaviour with the children, it's not the end of the world. Many years ago, in the UK, I worked with mothers and fathers who has been labelled by a court as "unfit" parents and whose children were under threat of a care order. Those parents came to the assessment unit every day for a set period and learned how to be loving and capable parents alongside their children - they hadn't received the parenting skills when they were growing up and had to learn them like any other skill. No-one in the unit judged them and we were just there as teachers of parental skills who were working to make sure these parents kept their children - most authorities don't want to remove children unless they are in emotional or physical danger.     

You have taken the biggest step already - well done and I hope you can now go on to get the help you need to ensure your peace of mind and your family's security.

Therapist C is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist with experience of working with relationship and many other issues.

You seem to imply that you had your first child very young, possibly at 15 but you do not mention what were the circumstances at the time of your childís birth. If you did have the child when you were 15 years old, how did you end up having a child so young? What were the circumstances at the time of your childís birth?

I wonder what it was that caused your parents to ask for the educateur and to have the case put in the hands of a tutelle. From what you say about relying on your parents it could sound as though the message that came over from that was that you could not cope on your own.

You say that ďif this is what it is like to have a family life, then I would never have started itĒ This statement makes me wonder what your family life was like when you were growing up for it seems to imply that you have not really experienced a family life. I wonder whether you felt that being with your boyfriend and your children would be wonderful and then found it difficult when things did not go the way you expected them to go.

It sounds like the situation may be overwhelming for you. You have gone for living with your parents who helped you with your son to living with your boyfriend and having to cope with three small children. I wonder if it was all too much for you. Maybe you found it difficult to cope and things began to deteriorate and hence the actions your parents have taken. You do not say what kind of relationship you had and have with your parents.