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Anne, UK asks:

My sister needs practical help with her son

Stressed woman at home

I am writing on behalf of my sister, who is a very capable working single parent with 5 children. They live in South London. She has a high-pressure full-time job, doesn’t drive and her three eldest children have worked very hard to achieve a high level of sports. However, not surprisingly, she is now reaching the end of what she can cope with.

Her eldest son approached her last week and admitted he is not coping with sports and his A levels and asked her to devote some time each to week, to help him. It is not an unreasonable request, but she really can’t do it. Is there any practical help available, maybe to help with the smaller children, or someone who can help with homework?

She really has no spare money at all for any of this, as most of her income goes on childcare, although I wouldn’t mind making a small contribution if such a service was available. 

Bit of a long-shot, but I really can’t think of where to turn. 

Thanks, in advance!



Hello Anne and thanks for your email.

I really appreciate you taking the time to write in on behalf of your sister, and can imagine that you are feeling very concerned for her with the pressure that she is under. It feels like there are two important strands to the situation, the emotional aspect and the practical element.
With regards to the emotional side, it is really important that your sister  listens and respects the signs that she has reached her limits without judging herself or making herself wrong. Having given out so much for so long, it may feel hard to let go and change the pattern, but the very act of doing so will help a new way forward become clear.
I would encourage her to be very straight with her son and explain that she doesn’t have the capacity to support in the way that she has been doing, and for them to discuss how to get him the help he needs. Crowdsourcing

There may be possibilities of retired teachers on the area offering free or very low cost private tuition? Her son maybe able to offer something in exchange for tuition such as gardening or other physical work or there may even be extra help from school/college that is available?

The college may hold lists of low cost tutors or you could place an advertisement on a free listings website like gumtree? There are also good crowdsourcing sites where you can put your request out there and there’s often willing volunteers happy to give up their time?
Right now, it probably feels like you can’t see the wood for the trees, but if you can encourage everyone to take one step at a time solutions and opportunities will become clear.

With warm wishes,

Smithsmith solvesit



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