Stacy’s Story

Posted on January 21, 2021 by Iosis

From meth addict to caring mother

With an addiction to meth and four of her five children in foster care, Stacey needed to turn her life around, for their sake. 

* Stock image used to protect identities

Stacey grew up with an alcoholic father in New Zealand when the rest of her family moved to Australia. “I had my daughter 18 years ago, when I was 13 years old. There wasn’t the support for teenage mums that there is now, so I had to drop out of school.”

When Stacey, who is now 32, went to Merivale earlier this year with her three-month-old son, her other four children, aged from five to 18 years, were in foster care. Stacey was hooked on meth, which she started taking when her violent partner was sent to prison for assault.

She says that during that time her children were at home doing whatever they wanted. “All I wanted was for them to leave me alone and I didn’t care what they did,” she explains. “There was no routine – they slept when they were tired and they ate when food was offered. They didn’t go to school. They just did what they wanted.”

As a young Mum without a good role model, Stacey didn’t know a lot about parenting. “I didn’t even know how to speak to my children – I swore at them and didn’t know there was another way.”

Another way – a better way

The six months Stacey and her son spent at Merivale changed everything. “It has been incredible to see how the children respond to me now that I communicate with them differently.”

Merivale is a residential parenting programme for mothers with a background of abuse, addiction, or domestic violence – and who are struggling with the challenges of parenting. Mothers receive counselling and attend a range of life skill, self-development and parenting classes.

Stacey reflects that the Alcohol or Drug Addiction (AOD), Non-violent Communication (NVC), and Women Supporting Safety programmes all had a huge impact on her.

In particular, learning about the ‘circle of security’ and what that means for her children was really important.

“I was a ‘jellyfish mum’ and let them do what they wanted. My five-year-old recently had most of her teeth removed because I let her eat lollies whenever she wanted.” She now understands the benefit to the children of having a clear routine and structure. “I have seen how important a constant routine is, and that they like it.”

No judgements. Just support.

“To go to a place which is non-judgemental and where they say to leave your past at the door and concentrate on what’s ahead … it’s life-changing. That’s not to say the programme wasn’t challenging. I had to make so many changes and learn new ways of doing things.”

Stacey now has a sponsor to call on should she start to feel vulnerable. “Merivale taught me that I have a voice. That I don’t need a partner – I can do it on my own.”

Stacey’s children who are still in care are coming back to live with her shortly. “We are all so excited,” says Stacey. “I love being a Mum and while I know that it will be an adjustment for them, I am ready and can’t wait to have them home again.”

Stacey encourages other women in similar situations to make the most of programmes like Merivale. “My kids now know I love them and am able to care for them. What could be better?”

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