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What would make Scotland the best place in the world to bring up children?

Becoming a parent was the unusual route for me.   My kids are all fast approaching teenagehood, but I didn’t give birth to them, and they don’t have my genes.

When we decided to keep the 3 little boys we had come to know, it was still hard to accept the amount of work that it was going to take bringing them into our lives, and to become a family instead of just a temporary home for them.

I’ve made more mistakes in my life since the boys arrived than I think I had ever made in my whole life before adoption.  Children change us, and I don’t think it’s always for the better.

My boys are getting older, and although we have managed to get this far, it’s been really tough, and it’s still tough going.

The lack of support is what blights our lives the most.  The lack of potential future care for my middle one eats me up at times, as I worry about who will bad use him, ala Castlebeck, or the other institutions that look after special needs adults.  I balance that with some of the most wonderful people I have ever met from charities, who spend valuable time with him and are the kind of people I hope are also in his future when we are gone.

Our Government needs to give parents and potential parents peace of mind.  I’m not sure that I have the confidence in that now.  For the future, I would like to see more consistent care and I’d like to see our children have “rights,” and not just pay lip service to it.

Our kids should be the focus for the future of the Scottish Government, but I have grave misgivings on that front.  I do think parents need more support from all angles, and especially special needs parents.  Perhaps I am being selfish in that respect, but I know I am not.

A friend and I both want spaces in after school clubs for our kids.  We both have special needs kids, and neither of us can get the cover so that we can go out and be full-time, useful members of society in a pubic place and working regular hours.  She works part-time, and I take on some work at home, but nothing like as much as I would like to.

There is no child care.

For Aberdeen, it seems that there are only 8 spaces per day for special needs after school care.  I have one day allocated and she has two.  We’d both love 5 days and to be able to earn more money to support our own families fully.  It’s never going to happen without support.

Those who call special needs parents a drain on society don’t seem to know that we’d love to be like them and get out and work for our own sanity.  Our culture and our Government won’t allow that, as funding options are always cut.  The only provision we have is a charity run one, which has limited resources.

I don’t think this is just a special needs issue either.  This isn’t just all about me and mine.

It’s about all our children and all our parenting experiences.  What could we do better as a society?  If we don’t tell them, or ask for what we need, it isn’t ever going to happen.

Being a parent is so important for the future of our country, but the support and the services just don’t seem to be there to prevent future long-term dependency.

The Scottish Government wants to make Scotland the best place in the world to bring up children, and so they have put together a National Parenting Strategy to provide better support for parents.

To help them plan the Strategy, they talked to over 1,500 parents about what’s best about being a parent, what they found difficult and what help they needed.  I think they need to hear more.

Many parents didn’t know where to go for help. Comments included “I didn’t know where to go or who to ask” and “I didn’t have family, I only had myself”.

Their comments tell us that we need to do more and do it better so that parents can find the help they need.

This Wednesday, on the 3rd October, the Scottish Government has decided to launch the Strategy at the Parenting across Scotland conference in Edinburgh.

Aileen Campbell, MSP, the Minister for Children and Young People, will be there, to talk about what Scottish Government plans to do to make sure that mums and dads get the help they need when they need it.

What help do you think mums and dads need?

What do you think would make Scotland the best place in the world to bring up children?

They would love to hear your thoughts.  Tell them your opinions using the Twitter hashtag  #pas12, and follow the chat on Wednesday there.   If you don’t want to contact them direct, leave a comment on this post, and I’ll pass it on.

If we don’t get involved, who will?