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A candidate for the world's worst parent

I may not be the best parent in the world, but I'm certainly not the worst. This I know after meeting a prime candidate.

I may not be the best parent in the world, but I'm certainly not the worst. This I know after meeting a prime candidate.

My darling, screaming infant has now become a testing toddler. Although he has not lost one whit of his vocal range he has gained an altogether new and terrifying dimension: speed.

We have recently returned from France. The terminal in Marseilles is refreshingly open plan. I watched with a mixture of awe and annoyance as he sprinted past the queueing hundreds, dodged the ladies at the check-in desks, nimbly avoided the luggage handlers, and disappeared into duty-free.

Now I may not be the best of parents. No doubt there are those of you reading this who could have brought the boy to heel using the power of the force alone. I resorted to standing on the correct side of the stainless steel barriers and hissing urgently at him to leave the "World of Whiskies".

However I am certainly not the worst of parents either. One of the reasons which I know this is that I have recently met a prime candidate.

Before leaving on holiday I received a phone call from a surprisingly pleasant and proactive psychiatrist. Earlier in the week his CPN had assessed a young man who had made a fairly significant suicide attempt.

He lost his job and his girlfriend, then his heating, and electricity. He therefore made the natural choice amongst possible coping options and elected to end it all.

At the risk of delving into dark humour, I can only comment that he would not have made a very good Boy Scout or sailor. He apparently somewhat sheepishly formed his mother the next day.

She in turn phoned the out of hours services and insisted that "something has to be done". This resulted in a series of urgent assessmen's ultimately followed by an appointment with me.

Having seen the notes and having had the phone call I was fully predisposed towards the poor young man. I had my best, gentlest, most kindly demeanour ready for action when he crossed the threshold. What I had not anticipated was the presence of his mother. The words "aggressive and confrontational" spring to mind.

She was still insisting that "something has to be done". However it rapidly became clear that whatever it was to be done would not be done by her.

The first tricky point of the consultation came about when she waved a copy of the quite thorough assessment by the CPN. It was awkward because the poor chap had evidently told the CPN things in confidence that his mother then had significant issues with. Whilst the young man looked haplessly on she proceeded to take offence with the various aspects of the description of family life.

Now to a certain extent I spoke in jest when I talked about the candidate for the worst parent in the world. Nevertheless I did wonder why a mother whose son lived within a mile of her house would allow him to become so destitute and so penniless that his utilities would be cut off.

Now of course we all have our different styles, but this question came to a head when I wrote out a prescription as suggested by the psychiatrist. She rounded on me and said "Well doctor, how is he going to pay for this?"

I leant forward in my seat fixed her in the eye, and said slowly "Perhaps you could lend him the six pounds necessary." I've seen him since and I'm delighted to say that he is really on the right track. He's brighter, smiling, and looking for a new job. SSRI magic or avoiding his mum? Hard to say.

Geoff encounters a fearsome woman who is a candidate for world's worst parent

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