Skip to main content
SAGE
Search form
Auto-Scroll
  • 00:30

    [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • 00:50

    SPEAKER 1: 13 years ago, the BBC set outon an ambitious project-- to follow the lives of 25 childrenafter their birth at the millennium.We've captured ordinary family life in 21st century Britain,from towns and villages, to inner cities

  • 01:12

    SPEAKER 1 [continued]: and the countryside.Our cameras have followed the Child of Our Time families.And in the process, we've witnessed the changing livesof the children who are hitting their teenage years.

  • 01:33

    SPEAKER 2: Being 12 is like beingin the middle of being a teenagerand being a little kid.

  • 01:38

    SPEAKER 3: You're an in-between age,so you feel different from others.

  • 01:42

    SPEAKER 4: Every day should be an ice cream daywhen you're 12, because your body can take it.

  • 01:46

    SPEAKER 5: The shallow people aregoing to be best friends with you just for a piece of gum,because everyone's obsessed with chewing gum at 12.

  • 02:00

    SPEAKER 6: She used to love pink and fairies and thingslike that, but that's now gone.She is very good at getting doing that teenage focusing outthe rest of the world where they don't see anythingapart from what's immediately in front of them or on the screen.

  • 02:17

    TANYA: Bossy, would you say?

  • 02:19

    ANDY: But there again, she's 12.She's experimenting with--

  • 02:23

    TANYA: Yeah, but she bosses you around an awful lot.

  • 02:26

    ANDY: Yeah.

  • 02:26

    TANYA: Can be.

  • 02:32

    SPEAKER 1: Inevitably, it's not been easy for all our children.Some have to cope with difficult times.

  • 02:40

    SPEAKER 7: I never guessed she would die.But I can remember quite clearly the afternoonin which I found out.

  • 02:50

    SPEAKER 8: I think I was 10.And my dad had an affair.

  • 02:58

    BERYL: He'd sit there and sing, Bob the Builder.Can we fix it?Yes we can.I used to join in like a silly fool.

  • 03:09

    SPEAKER 1: Tonight, our families,three generations of them, reflect on the last 13 years.

  • 03:43

    SPEAKER 1 [continued]: Family life in Britain is said to be in crisis.But it remains how most of us still define ourselves--as brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, parents, children,or even grandparents.

  • 04:04

    SPEAKER 9: Nothing ever, ever prepares youfor having children-- ever.

  • 04:10

    JACQUI: You kind of think, gosh, am I reallyallowed to have children?I don't know where I've parked the car.This is crazy.I shouldn't be allowed to have them.

  • 04:18

    SPEAKER 10: Eh, they're so beautiful.God knows me.He knows what I have to do to make be smile.I said, you made him so gorgeous.SPEAKER 11 Jamie was absolutely enormous when he was born.I'm glad I didn't have him naturally, anyway.

  • 04:34

    SPEAKER 12: You can go and buy the most fancy car, stereo,or washing machine, you get a owner's manualwith it, a handbook.The most important thing you're evergoing to look after, you bring it out of the hospital.There's no manual.And you just do the best you can.

  • 04:48

    SPEAKER 13: It just completely changed our lives.

  • 04:51

    SPEAKER 14: There wouldn't be a life without the children.They are, they become your life.They are my life.

  • 05:08

    SPEAKER 1: The 25 children were allborn between September of 1999 and February, 2000.Jacqui Langerveld was pregnant with twins.But four weeks before she was due to give birth,she went into labor and there were complications.

  • 05:31

    RICHARD: I was holding Jacqui's hand.And I remember looking at her and her breathingand having the drugs and everything,and knowing that she wasn't aware at that precise moment,being aware of what had happened.

  • 05:52

    JACQUI: The labor will turn into a nightmare.And you just actually feel like, I justbought want this whole thing to end now.I don't want to have children.I don't actually want to be alive.I don't want any of this.I couldn't see how it was all going to end.It was just awful

  • 06:09

    SPEAKER 1: Their first baby, Alexander, was stillborn.

  • 06:15

    RICHARD: 12 years on, remember justthe ringing, deafening silence.I just couldn't believe what was happening.And so they didn't tell me what he was,

  • 06:37

    RICHARD [continued]: and I had to ask whether it was a boy or a girl.

  • 06:54

    SPEAKER 1: Soon after, the second twin, Charlotte,was born.

  • 07:00

    RICHARD: They delivered her, and she was beautiful.Perfect.Sorry.

  • 07:17

    JACQUI: Quite quickly, she opened her eyes.And these big brown eyes stared straight at you.And she was incredibly alert.And it was so obvious, I felt, that she was a fighter.I just knew she was all right from the beginning.

  • 07:32

    RICHARD: Life does go on.And whilst we were down in the dumps, obviously,we still had a beautiful little girl that we had to look after.

  • 07:46

    JACQUI: If you've got any grief in your life,the most wonderful thing about children is they kind of justforce you to go forwards.

  • 07:52

    RICHARD: The simplest, easiest things may go wrong.And so it's really important to cherish what you have.

  • 08:06

    SPEAKER 1: Charlotte grew up to be a healthy, happy, and verysensitive little girl.And 18 months later, Jackie gave birth to her sister, Jasmine.

  • 08:18

    CHARLOTTE: Once upon a time, there was two little girls.One was called Jasmine and one was called Charlotte.There was a mum called Jacqui and therewas a dad called Richard.

  • 08:33

    SPEAKER 1: Later that year, Jackie and Richard got married.

  • 08:39

    RICHARD: Jacqui and I had been together for quite awhile.But once we were married, for some inexplicable reason,we did-- and I don't know at what point--but we did start to drift apart.

  • 08:52

    JACQUI: One of the key things was I was working full-time,as was Richard.And so I think there was a lot less timeto go round for everybody.And like a lot of parents, it's hard to find the time to talk.

  • 09:08

    CHARLOTTE: I think my mum and dad separated partlybecause they lost Alexander.And I sort of think that maybe pushed them away a bitrather than bringing them together.

  • 09:41

    CHARLOTTE [continued]: Not talking, not talking.Charlotte and Jasmine go to each other, but not Mummy and Daddy.

  • 09:50

    RICHARD: I do feel that I've failed myselfand failed Charlotte and Jasmine and alsofailed my family as well.I have a brother and sister.They're both married.I have my parents.They're married.And as hard as I try, I still have at the back of my mind

  • 10:11

    RICHARD [continued]: the fact that I failed and I've let some people down.

  • 10:23

    CHARLOTTE: I try not to tell themhow I feel about their separation,because I think it might upset them and make them feel bad.

  • 10:34

    JACQUI: All those years, most of the time,putting a brave face on things and getting on with it.There are times when both her and Jasminedo need to just let it out and just say,sometimes it is tough.And it's important, I think, that both Richard and Ilisten to that and just say, I hear you.

  • 10:56

    MAUREEN: She's very, very sensitive.And possibly underneath, there is,subconsciously even, this feeling that things are notabsolutely perfect.But as she's getting older, it's getting better, I think.And she's finding it much easier.And I think Charlotte is coping with it very well.

  • 11:26

    SPEAKER 1: Charlotte's mother and fatherare in new relationships.And like many children, Charlotteis now part of a large, extended family.

  • 11:36

    CHARLOTTE: I really enjoy having older stepsiblings.They're generally nice and they do your hair and stufflike that.

  • 11:45

    JACQUI: The beautiful thing about childrenis with all that sensitivity Charlotte has,children don't mind telling you that Helenis in fact a great cook.And when Helen cooks this, Mum, it's delicious.Will you ask her what she does that you don't do?

  • 11:58

    CHARLOTTE: Sometimes I do wish that my parents wereback together.But I wouldn't change anything in my family.I love it exactly how it is.

  • 12:18

    SPEAKER 1: Charlotte has coped with the change to her family.But we all know how difficult it canbe to keep a family together.

  • 12:27

    REBECCA: I think that my parents have got a good relationship,because they rarely argue and they always laugh together.And it makes me happy.

  • 12:36

    GILL: Compromise-- as long as it's my way,I don't mind compromising.

  • 12:43

    FELICIA: We've been married 52 years,so we feel that the secret of a happy marriageis tolerance, understanding of one another's needs.

  • 12:54

    ANN: The secret of my marriage is having been lucky enoughto marry a wonderful guy.

  • 13:02

    GILLIAN: I think one of the key elements of a successful familyis having time together.Because you can have all the principles in the world,but if you aren't there, you're not there.Any principles are just in the air.

  • 13:20

    TEJAL: If there is no strong relation between the motherand father, that will affect the children.

  • 13:25

    ANDY: Well, perhaps we've knocked each other's cornersup a bit, and we find ourselves at this pointwhere we are now, quite happy with each other-- sort of.

  • 13:35

    TANYA: Ooh, you are presumptuous.

  • 13:53

    TRACEY: To me, family is the most important thingin your life, really.

  • 13:58

    DOCTOR: Chilly on your tummy?Cold?

  • 14:00

    TRACEY: I just love having children.

  • 14:04

    SPEAKER 1: And that was just as well,because a scan revealed that Tracywas pregnant with triplets.

  • 14:10

    DOCTOR: One baby lying over here.You see the membrane?

  • 14:13

    NIGEL: When we had the scan, they moved around on the thing,and they give knowing looks to each other.And then they told her, look, one, two, three.

  • 14:22

    TRACEY: He just comes straight out and phoned uphis mum and dad and told them.Nigel was incredibly proud of knowingthat he'd fathered triplets.NIGEL It's quite a skill- three eggs, three sperm.It's not easy.

  • 14:42

    SPEAKER 1: Tracey went into laboron the 4th of January, 2000.The girls were born by cesarean sectionand were Europe's first triplets of the new millennium.[BABY CRYING]

  • 14:58

    TRACEY: Number one is Alice.Number two is Mabel.And number three is Phoebe.

  • 15:13

    SPEAKER 1: The girls weren't the Ballards' first children.They already had three-- two boys and a girl.

  • 15:23

    NIGEL: We've got this little house.We've got a little car.How are we going to get all the blooming kids in thereto do you know what I mean?It's for having somewhere to put them,because there isn't enough room.Because you've got three of everything, you see.You've got three cots, three little chairs.So you have to get a bigger car for, a start.

  • 15:40

    TRACEY: We had to move house.Move house, yeah.We'd get to about nearly 200 bottles per weekand about 200 nappies per week.

  • 15:58

    NIGEL: I'm sure they had a dip in sales.[INAUDIBLE]

  • 16:08

    TRACEY: It is hard to get the balance of making sure that allthe children's needs are met.So you've got to have time slots.There's times when the little ones are asleepwhen you can give them your time so they feelthat they're part of the team.Do you know what I mean?It's not just Mummy and Daddy that's doing it.Everybody's involved.

  • 16:28

    TRACEY [continued]: And the same is we've always includedNan and Granddad in everything.That's how I know family life to be.

  • 16:39

    BERYL: I'm glad Tracey let me get involved with them.I had a lovely few years with themas young babies and little children,giving them cuddles and things like that,sitting and watch Bob the Builder,and all that sort of thing.And we'd sit there and sing Bob the Builder, can we fix it?

  • 16:60

    BERYL [continued]: Yes we can.I used to join in like a silly fool.

  • 17:18

    NIGEL: I thought given the same environment,they would all grow very, very similarly.But they're just completely poles apart, all of them.

  • 17:33

    TRACEY: It looks easy.Two of them with one hand and walk up the road.But it's not that simple, because they wantto stop and do their own thing.I tried them on dog leads, once three dog leads.And if one fell over, they've jolted you,so you pull the other two over on their dog leads.So that didn't work

  • 18:10

    SPEAKER 1: They may be triplets, but as the girls get older,they're developing at different rates.

  • 18:16

    TRACEY: Because of puberty and what's going on in their ages,there is more arguing now than whatthere has been in the past.[INTERPOSING VOICES]

  • 18:29

    ALICE: 10:00 when he's supposed to be getting ready for the dayand then I can't go into my own bedroom.

  • 18:34

    PHOEBE: Pretending like we're asleep.

  • 18:36

    ALICE: Me?That's you.

  • 18:38

    TRACEY: Sometimes I want to kill it each other.Sometimes I'm really happy with each other, ,you know what I mean?It's just a normal sister relationship.[INTERPOSING VOICES]

  • 18:55

    ALICE: When Mabel's in here, when you're in here,all I know, when I come in here, what are you doing?

  • 19:06

    TRACEY: Mabel's reached puberty, and that is a lot of work.She's neither a girl or a woman at the moment.So there's a lot of emotions going on there.And she's a typical teenager, really.

  • 19:20

    ALICE: You can't walk in the room in the morning.

  • 19:23

    MABEL: But if I'm sleepy, you don't justslam the bloody drawer.[INAUDIBLE]

  • 19:32

    PHOEBE: You take things too seriously.

  • 19:34

    TRACEY: I'm quite happy that Mabel's gone through it first,really, because the thought of having three go through ittogether is just a bloody nightmare, to be honest.

  • 19:47

    SPEAKER 1: Finding time to get awayas a family is really important to Tracey and Nigel.But the girls are beginning to have their own opinionof the family holiday.

  • 19:58

    ALICE: We go camping every year.And it's Mum's idea to go camping.And it rains all the time.

  • 20:04

    TRACEY: I just love camping.It's an adventure, and I like the fact you can put everythingthat you ever need to survive on the top of your carand just go.PHOEBE Me and Mabel are probably the ones that hate it the most.

  • 20:19

    NIGEL: Bloody horrible, this.

  • 20:27

    TRACEY: I love children.That why I've got so many.It has been lovely watching them grow up.But it goes by too quickly, to be completely honest with you.And in no time, they've gone from being-- you can still

  • 20:49

    TRACEY [continued]: see them being in your arms.And then the next minute--

  • 20:52

    NIGEL: One minute you're watching "Barney the PurpleDinosaur."Next minute, you're lending them a tenner'cause they've run out of cash.In an instant, they've gone from being little girls thathold your hand across the road into little independent girls,who just want you to drop them off at the picturesand come pick them up later.It's quite sad, really.

  • 21:11

    BERYL: I'm glad I've been involved with them all.And it was lovely.I said, lovely while it lasted.And I knew it wouldn't last forever.But I've got their memories.I remember them as they was.And they're growing up.I'm glad they're growing up to be nice young ladies.

  • 21:31

    BERYL [continued]: And I love them to bits.

  • 21:34

    NIGEL: Says, what will we do when the last child goesand the door slams shut and there'sthat eerie little silence.And I said, what will we talk about?

  • 21:43

    TRACEY: We'll have grandchildren, I said.

  • 21:45

    NIGEL: And the grandchildren.I hadn't actually thought of that, you see.And they'll all still keep coming backand they'll be bringing extras.And then we'd bring in extras.

  • 21:60

    SPEAKER 1: So it seems the Ballard familyis set to grow even more.And they're still together.Half of our families are either divorced or separated.

  • 22:20

    PROFESSOR ROBERT WINSTON: The fact is in Britain, nearly 50%of parents separate.It's a problem that different coupleshave to face in different ways.[MUSIC PLAYING]

  • 22:46

    CALVIN: Then my parents getting divorced hasn't, like,had an impact on me.

  • 22:51

    HELEN: When you first get together with somebody,then that person's your priority because it's justthe two of you.And then children come along.And the overwhelming love that you feel for a child,I can imagine for some, it would be very, very easyfor that to take over.And maybe it did in my case.I don't know.

  • 23:10

    JEANETTE: A lot of us are separated.So actually, we're not doing anythingterribly different to the rest of society out there.

  • 23:18

    RICHARD: As a chap, we're supposed to be tough.But the separation and subsequent divorceleft a massive, massive hole in my life.

  • 23:31

    BARRY: All kids get hurt by this.And to understand is part of taking awaythe hurt, the pain, and the devastation that that causes.

  • 23:40

    JAMIE: I think I was 10.And my dad had an affair.He said he was at work, but he was actually in Scotlandwith another woman.And it just-- my mom found out.

  • 23:58

    SHARON: It's hard to explain to a 10-year-old what's happened.Your dad's had an affair with another lady.How can a 10-year-old comprehend that, really?

  • 24:14

    NARRATOR: When Jamie Craven was four,he was diagnosed with diabetes and neededregular injections of insulin.

  • 24:22

    SHARON: Get your injection.[JAMIE CRYING]

  • 24:29

    NARRATOR: Although Jamie learned to cope with his condition,his dad Ian struggled.

  • 24:34

    IAN: When Jamie was diagnosed, I always have had and still havethis phobia with needles.I'm petrified of needles.But obviously, being diabetic and insulin dependent,you've got to inject.[JAMIE CRYING]I was really, really struggling because I thought,I couldn't even do that to myself, never mind, you

  • 24:54

    IAN [continued]: know, basically having to make him do it.

  • 24:57

    JAMIE: He always used to try and help me,but he couldn't really because he didn't really like needles,you know.And it was just hard for him because hewas trying to do his best.

  • 25:11

    IAN: I can't have him looking at methinking that I'm frightened and concerned about it.It'll just make him worse.[JAMIE CRYING]I was asked would I go and do this job in Scotlandfor 10 days.And right or wrong, I said, yeah, I'm off.

  • 25:31

    IAN [continued]: I took the coward's way and I bolted and run off.

  • 25:33

    SHARON: Ian just disappeared because hecouldn't cope with it and left meto deal with it all on my own.So there I was, on my own at home with this child.

  • 25:58

    SHARON [continued]: It was absolutely horrible time.Horrible.

  • 26:02

    IAN: I know she was upset and I shouldn't have gone,but we can all say that at the time.At the time, I thought it was what I needed to do.

  • 26:23

    JAMIE: I used to be in the house with my mom a lotbecause my dad always used to be at work, away with work a lot.

  • 26:31

    IAN: Well, going right back, my fatherdid exactly the same as me.He'd go away and be away all the time.So I grew up in that environment.So I think whatever environment you grow upin, you think that's normal.I thought I was doing the right thing.But looking back, possibly it wasn't the best thing to do.

  • 26:52

    NARRATOR: With Ian working away from home and Sharonstruggling with depression, the marriage came under strain.In 2008, Ian had an affair.

  • 27:03

    JAMIE: My mom wasn't happy.Well, you wouldn't be.And was like, I want a divorce and we're moving out.So he moved out and they got divorced.

  • 27:25

    SHARON: You know, he just kept saying, why?Why has he done it?Well, I can't answer that.But it was me that he was asking the questions to.As a parent, trying to manage your children'semotions as well as your own whenyou go through a breakup is quite difficult.

  • 27:47

    SHARON [continued]: You try to hold it all together, to be strong for your children.But I'm afraid I sometimes-- well, quite a lot of the timeat the beginning, I couldn't hold it all together.

  • 28:01

    JAMIE: I knew she wasn't very happy with my dad,and I didn't want to make it worse.So me and my sister just talked to each other a lot.

  • 28:15

    SHARON: He did, unfortunately, witness me cutting upIan's shirts up one day.And it just wasn't fair what the children were going through.It wasn't their relationship that had broken down.It was my relationship with Ian.

  • 28:37

    NARRATOR: Following their divorce,Jamie still sees his dad as much as he can.

  • 28:47

    JAMIE: We try to stay as close as we can.But he's away with work a lot and we can't reallysee each other that much now.

  • 29:01

    NARRATOR: Sharon now has a new partner.

  • 29:06

    SHARON: I met Barry in April, 2011.He's taken Jamie under his wing and he'sabsolutely fantastic with him.

  • 29:16

    BARRY: Yeah.Good shot.I'm glad that he has taken to doing things with me.There is no atmosphere, funny atmosphere.He seems pretty relaxed and he has a good laughwhen we're out and that.I think Jamie enjoys himself.

  • 29:38

    IAN: If he goes out to their house and all that, spends timewith him, he is going to become a part of his life.I'll be truthful.At first, I was a little bit upset about it,but that's in the past.I mean, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't upsetand it didn't bother me.But hey, you've just got to get on with it.

  • 29:59

    IAN [continued]: You know what I mean?

  • 29:59

    JAMIE: I would like my mom and dad to get back together,but that's never going to really happen.So I'd just like everyone to be happy, you know, and not argue.[MUSIC PLAYING]

  • 30:40

    NARRATOR: Although so some children areable to adjust to how their family changes,others find it difficult and it takes time.

  • 30:52

    MARIE: The breakup affected Tyrese.One day, he was living in one house with his mom and dad.And the next day, he was in another houseand his mom and dad weren't together.And he's three years old.He doesn't know what's going on.

  • 31:03

    NARRATOR: Tyrese lives one week with his motherand one with his father.

  • 31:08

    MARIE: He did go through a period of timewhere he was quite rebellious at a very young age.And I think he's learned that pattern over time.And obviously, his school background, his school reports,they follow him.And I don't know if, again, that is part of it.

  • 31:30

    TANESHA: I think if they were still together,Tyrese would probably be not as bad as he is, I think,because I think he hasn't really grown outof the anger problems and the behavior issueswhen they broke up.[SOBBING]Because he was so young when broke up.

  • 31:53

    TANESHA [continued]: He, like, lashed out at school.And that's where his behavior stuff came from.

  • 31:58

    TYRESE: I've been in trouble for fighting and being defiant.I've been excluded three times.It's most of the time self defense.

  • 32:11

    MARIE: He's learned a certain behavior.And it's trying to get him out of that behavior,get him out of that anger.So that's where I am at now, just deciding,which way is he going?Is he just normal teenage things that boys go through?

  • 32:29

    NARRATOR: Now Tyrese is at secondary school,he's much more settled and his behavior has improved.

  • 32:39

    TANESHA: I think Tyrese is doing all right at school, betterthan he used to do.Now he hardly gets in trouble.It's on a rare occasion.He's doing a lot better.

  • 32:53

    MARIE: In the past couple of years,I've enjoyed him a bit more because he's sort of-- I'mable to communicate with him.We're able to talk about various things.And I think communication is the key.And I think you always need to talk to your children.You always need to be honest with your children.We'll be all right.

  • 33:15

    MARIE [continued]: [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • 33:23

    NARRATOR: As children become teenagers,the relationship they enjoy with their parentschanges inevitably.Our children suddenly have opinionsand are more willing to share them.

  • 33:37

    SPEAKER 2: There are times when he's suddenlywanting to exert his authority over the house.And he feels that he can talk to me in a certain way.And that just is not going to happen.[MUSIC PLAYING]

  • 33:56

    NATHAN: I think I've probably changedby getting a bit cheekier.My mom says that's because I'm turning into a teenager.

  • 34:08

    RICHARD: He has been quite challenging recently,especially with Ruth.He loves to push Ruth's buttons.And he's constantly testing boundaries.It becomes quite wearing after a while.

  • 34:21

    NATHAN: I get sent out of class a lot to, like, stand outside.

  • 34:25

    RUTH: He's at one of those stagesat the moment where he's messing about.

  • 34:30

    NATHAN: I feel very pressured because Idon't want to make them unhappy that I'm misbehaving.But I just seem to misbehave a lot.[MUSIC PLAYING]

  • 34:51

    TONI: When I sit with Charlie and I think, oh, you know,you don't sound like you're 12.You're talking like you're 17 and you'redressing like you're 17.

  • 35:03

    KERRY: We've got this hairdo going on.You know, it'll pass.It's a phase, whatever.He likes it, it's trendy.OK.

  • 35:14

    SPEAKER 3: He's not a baby anymore.He's in size eight-- no, sorry, nine-- shoes now.

  • 35:25

    SPEAKER 4: I think she's got to the age whereshe does need to question an awful lot of things in life.You know, she's a growing young lady.

  • 35:34

    BERYL: I can remember them as they was.And I still think of them sometimes as little.But now they've grown up into lovely little girls.

  • 35:57

    BERYL [continued]: They're not little girls now.They're growing into lovely ladies, aren't they?[MUSIC PLAYING]

  • 36:13

    NARRATOR: As Ethan Kerr was growing up,it became obvious to his mother that somethingwasn't quite right.His behavior suggested a mild form of Asperger's.This affects a small percentage of people, mostly boys.

  • 36:32

    KERRY: Whenever he was diagnosed, I was devastated.This is my perfect little child.And it took me a while to get my head round it that he'smy child and he has this.

  • 36:49

    ETHAN: I don't really notice it because it's notthat noticeable.They give you extra time in tests and all, exams,but I usually don't take the extra time.

  • 37:01

    KERRY: You just kind of figure itout as you go along, what he likes, what he doesn't like.He doesn't like people that he doesn'tknow in his personal space.So sometimes, he just wants quiet time,putting on his computer and playing with his friends.Ethan's Xbox, that's his thing.That calms him down.He can just switch off for an hour

  • 37:22

    KERRY [continued]: and be in a wee world of his own.And he's pretty good.He whips people's backsides at it.And because he's good at it, thatmakes him feel good because he's getting positive feedback.That builds his self esteem.I'm happy.Children with Asperger's have very lowself esteem, generally, and very high anxiety.

  • 37:44

    KERRY [continued]: And that computer makes him feel good.And if it makes him feel good, that's good enough for me.

  • 37:52

    ETHAN: I used to go on the Xbox a lot.But now I've been going outside with my friends and all, justto go out and hang around.

  • 37:58

    SPEAKER 7: Coming, Ethan?[MUSIC PLAYING]

  • 38:30

    NARRATOR: Our children are now at secondary school.And that environment is beginningto widen their world, as Rebecca Saunders's parents arediscovering.

  • 38:39

    GILL: I think Rebecca has become a bit more strong willedover the summer.Whereas before, if I wanted her to do something,I could kind of gently ease her into it.Now if she doesn't want to do something,she's not going to do it.

  • 38:51

    MARK: She's her own person now, isn't she?

  • 38:52

    GILL: Yeah.

  • 38:53

    MARK: She's--

  • 38:55

    GILL: She's Rebecca.

  • 38:56

    MARK: She's Rebecca.

  • 38:58

    REBECCA: I'm going to do, like, about her life, like howshe was a popular girl in Petershead.My mom inspires me because I thinkshe's amazing at everything.But Mary Berry also inspires me because shelikes baking lots of cakes and she's really good at it.

  • 39:16

    GILL: She's forming her own mind.She's making--

  • 39:18

    MARK: She's her own person.

  • 39:20

    GILL: Yeah.She's making choices now and reasons for her choices.So I think she's in the transition from childhoodto teenagehood.But she's still quite sweet natured.She hasn't lost her sweet nature.Long may that last.

  • 39:37

    REBECCA: My mom said to me this yearthat I'm not allowed a boyfriend because Ineed to focus on schoolwork.

  • 39:43

    MARK: At the moment, I'm not worried.Yeah, sure, in three years, six years, nine yearstime, it will be different.

  • 39:51

    GILL: Got the shotgun by the front door.

  • 39:52

    MARK: But at the moment, I'm not worried.[MUSIC PLAYING]

  • 39:59

    NARRATOR: As the children become teenagers,the changes in their hormones affect brain and body.[MUSIC PLAYING]

  • 40:12

    SPEAKER 6: I love towering down on all my friendsbecause it's just so fun.Yeah.And because they're medium height, but I'm taller.So I just enjoy that.

  • 40:24

    NATHAN: When they ask me to do chores,it feels like they're torturing me.Sometimes I don't mind.But sometimes I just want to not do themand do what I want to do.

  • 40:41

    NARRATOR: Toni Plaster from Kent wasthe youngest of the Child of our Time parents.She was a teenager herself when she found out she was pregnant.

  • 40:53

    TONI: I do feel having Charlie has made me who I am.I don't feel that I would be nowhere near the person Iam today if I didn't have her.[INTERPOSING VOICES]I was 16 when I found out I was pregnant.

  • 41:13

    TONI [continued]: And for some reason, I had it in my head from the startthat I was going to go ahead and have Charlie.[INTERPOSING VOICES]

  • 41:26

    NARRATOR: Following a healthy pregnancy,Toni gave birth to her daughter with her mother by her side.

  • 41:39

    TONI: That is such a weird feeling pushing the baby's headout.I'll tell you all.It is so weird.

  • 41:47

    NARRATOR: Each year in the UK, over 18,000 girlsage 16 or under fall pregnant.[MUSIC PLAYING]

  • 42:01

    TONI: When I brought Charlie home,I was still quite overwhelmed.It sounds a bit immature now, but at the time, you know,I'd change her like six times a day.And I'd be like, something new, or new trainers.It was a novelty for so long.

  • 42:19

    NARRATOR: A few months after the birth, Toniand her new boyfriend Rob moved in together.

  • 42:26

    TONI: He became Charlie's dad and itwas nice to have him around.It was lovely because I felt like a unit with him.Charlie looked up at Rob as a dad-- still does now.And he treated her how he would treat his own.

  • 42:47

    TONI [continued]: He never made an issue that she wasn't biologically his.And even when we had two more children together,there was no difference in the waythat he treated any of them.

  • 42:57

    CHARLIE: I'm not telling fibs.

  • 43:02

    NARRATOR: But in 2010, their relationship broke down.

  • 43:08

    TONI: Me and Rob started to just fall out,if you like, constant arguing.The environment wasn't nice.And there was always tears with the kidsbecause they obviously didn't like us arguing.So we separated in January, 2011.

  • 43:26

    NARRATOR: Toni moved into a flat a few miles away,but it was too small for all of them to live in comfortably.So Charlie went to live with her grandparents.

  • 43:37

    ANNE: Charlie's basically living with us.She's not living here.She keeps saying that she lives here.No, she don't live here.Charlie's staying here at the moment because of the marriagebreakup between Toni and Rob.Toni's actually moved out of the marital home and she's renting

  • 43:57

    ANNE [continued]: accommodation--

  • 43:59

    RON: Two bedrooms.

  • 43:59

    ANNE: A two bedroom accommodation.Obviously, there's two bedrooms, so--

  • 44:02

    RON: There's not enough room.

  • 44:03

    ANNE: There's not enough room there.

  • 44:05

    CHARLIE: I stay at my nan's because at home,if I do my homework, Caleb and Alexare always moaning or fighting.And when Caleb get's annoyed he always gets naffed, he goes outand then he Alex fights me.And I can't do it properly.

  • 44:26

    CHARLIE [continued]: It will be easier for me to get to school.

  • 44:29

    ANNE: It just made sense for her to be here.She's got the space.She's got her own room here.She's nearer to the school.

  • 44:39

    NARRATOR: Toni missed out on school qualifications,but she's made up for it since.She put herself through universityand qualified as a nurse.

  • 44:50

    TONI: Emotionally, it was a struggle.And with my kind of job, you're not getting home until late.And I missed silly things like the school run or bath time,bedtime.And it was tough.It was tough.It would have been less of a strugglefor me to be at home with my children and to claim benefits.

  • 45:14

    TONI [continued]: We would have earned more money through the statethan we would out working.But I didn't want that.I didn't want to be on benefits and have the state supportme to bring up a child that I chose to bring into the world.I liked the fact that I'd go to workand what I'd get paid a month, that's what I've earned.

  • 45:35

    TONI [continued]: Whatever my children get is from me.

  • 45:41

    NARRATOR: Toni is working towards a new homefor her family and hopes they'll all be together again soon.

  • 45:48

    TONI: The last year has been a struggle for everybody.And it's been nice that Charlie's had my parentsto be that supportive network.So now, it's kind of gone full circle.Everybody's settled down and everybody's a lot closer.I think as time's gone on, the kidshave realized that it's not that bad, me on my own.

  • 46:11

    TONI [continued]: And it's nice.It is nice.We do a lot more as a family.

  • 46:17

    RON: She's a blinding mother, you know, a really good mom.I'm proud of her.Anne's proud of her.We're all proud of her.

  • 46:27

    TONI: I hope Charlie's learned from me going to universityand studying for three years that nothing's impossible.You can have these dreams and you can go for them.And even now, with schooling, shestruggles every now and then with certain subjects.So I kind of have to remind her, as long as you stick with it

  • 46:51

    TONI [continued]: and be good, she'll get what she wants in life, really.[MUSIC PLAYING]

  • 47:09

    NARRATOR: For most of us, getting pregnant and havinga baby is one of the greatest joys of our lives.But for some couples, it's not straightforward.Tim and Caroline Scarborough had beendesperate to have their own baby for several years.

  • 47:30

    TIM: We'd had a hard time getting to the pointwhere Caroline was pregnant.We'd had some treatment for infertility, some IVF work,which hadn't been successful and had been really quitestressful.

  • 47:43

    NARRATOR: Quite unexpectedly, and against all theodds, Caroline conceived naturally and wasoverwhelmed by the news.[SOBBING]And as Christmas approached, Caroline gave birth to Eve.

  • 48:04

    NARRATOR [continued]: [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • 48:17

    TIM: I just can't believe how happy I feel.

  • 48:22

    CAROLINE: It reminds you of what a miracle life this and howgrateful you should be.[MUSIC PLAYING]I just see a new life beginning, not only for Eve, but for us.[MUSIC PLAYING]

  • 48:55

    NARRATOR: Over the years, we've watchedEve grow up into a happy and confident little girl.And in 2005, Caroline gave birth to her sister, Holly.

  • 49:15

    NARRATOR [continued]: But at the age of eight, Eve had to deal with somethingno child should face.She lost her mother Caroline to cancer.

  • 49:28

    EVE: I'd never guessed she would die.I can remember quite clearly the afternoon on which I found out.Dad came in to pick me up.And on the drive home in the car, I told him,I drew a picture for mom at school today.Can I give it to her tomorrow when we go to see her?And then he pulled the car over and told me.And then I just cried and cried and cried.

  • 49:50

    EVE [continued]: [MUSIC PLAYING]I couldn't process it.I wasn't sure what to think.I wasn't sure if I actually believed-- not that Ithought he'd be lying about it.I just wasn't sure if I believed that it had happened.

  • 50:10

    EVE [continued]: [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • 50:20

    TIM: Letting the balloons go, it'sjust another way of connecting, for thembeing able to send their mom a message.It's all part of keeping Caroline with us.You OK?

  • 50:34

    EVE: Yeah.

  • 50:35

    TIM: Feeling a bit sad?

  • 50:36

    EVE: A bit.It didn't make sense, my mom dying, at the beginning,I think.The littlest things like mom wouldask what do I want for breakfast and she'd bring it through,and it was dad instead.That puzzled me why I felt so attached to that little moment.

  • 50:59

    EVE [continued]: It was lots of different things like that.Like going into mom and dad's bedroom and just dadbeing in there and not mom.And then sorting through things she had.And I thought, I would like to keep that because I rememberher telling me about that.And so I've got things like that I've justkept because I don't want to lose

  • 51:20

    EVE [continued]: the memories that go with it.[MUSIC PLAYING]Just like sometimes, I wish that Icould give her a hug because that'sone of the things I miss most.

  • 51:40

    EVE [continued]: [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • 51:48

    TIM: My approach to handling the loss of Caroline and griefand the emotional impact of that lossis to be as open and honest with the childrenas I can about what's happening for me so that theyknow it's OK to be sad, angry, frustrated, lost.

  • 52:08

    EVE: If dad ever tries to talk about it with me--I think he has a couple of times-- I'll listenbut I won't say anything.Then afterwards, I'll wait about five minutesbefore saying anything.Then I'll change the subject.

  • 52:18

    TIM: I don't think it's unhealthy.I think it's just her way of managing it.She knows what she's feeling and she doesn't particularlywant to upset herself.

  • 52:27

    EVE: My mind doesn't know how to processthe whole trying not to cry if someone else iscrying sort of thing.

  • 52:37

    TIM: There are times when she just wants to be left alone.She just withdraws.[MUSIC PLAYING]

  • 52:55

    EVE (SINGING): When the rain is blowing in your faceand the whole world is on your case,I can offer you a warm embrace to make you feel my love.

  • 53:13

    TIM: When Eve plays or sings, I find it very moving.It always makes me think it's a shame Caroline's not hereto see that because music was very important to her as well.And it would have been such a lovely connection between them.

  • 53:38

    EVE: Like performances with my choirI did a couple times, and my school production,which was really fun.I wish she'd seen that because it was such a big thing.And we spent ages working on it.

  • 54:03

    TIM: Ever since Caroline died, the first fear that I had--and it stays with me now-- is that they will bedamaged because it's only me.

  • 54:11

    EVE: I know I'd be different because there'sno way I'd be the same person if I'dhad two parents opposed to one.

  • 54:17

    TIM: My relationship with Eve hasbeen affected because when there was a mom and a dad,I could just be the dad.And she was daddy's girl.Ready?

  • 54:27

    EVE: Yeah.

  • 54:28

    TIM: Go.Pedal, pedal, pedal.It was me who-- well, I tried to teach her to ride a bike.But I don't get to have that specific dad role anymore.Very good, Eve.Keep going.Housework and all that kind of stuff.That has to happen.So that ends up being the priority.

  • 54:48

    TIM [continued]: And that leaves me with little energy for the fun stuff.Eve, there's too much in there for the dryerso split it and put some in the basket.OK, Holly.Off we go.I think the fact that Caroline's diedhas given Eve things to deal with that she wouldn'thave had to deal with.I think, both emotionally and in practical terms, that she's

  • 55:09

    TIM [continued]: been forced to grow up a little quicker.

  • 55:16

    EVE: I don't think I was traumatizedas most people think of it.It's changed my life a lot and it's changed me a lot.But it's not all bad.

  • 55:26

    TIM: I feel like, going forward, it's put us in a good positionto be able to be a family where the mom diedand to be comfortable with that.

  • 55:41

    EVE: Even though it was really hard for him,he's looked after me and Holly really well.And like the fact that he's never given up.He's trying to get us to be the best people we can be.And I admire him for that.[MUSIC PLAYING]

  • 56:14

    SPEAKER 7: You know, I feel immensely proud of Eveand the wisdom she shows.And for me, it's been immense privilegeto see these impressive young people grow up.Robert Winston: And as our children grow,their parents will need to prepare for the next stagein their lives.

  • 56:35

    SPEAKER 7 [continued]: I guess I am going to have the teenage years soon.We've talked about that and she'spromised she won't be a horrible teenager.So we'll just have to see how that pans out.

  • 56:49

    SPEAKER 8: I personally feel a little bitlike the center of the boys' lives has evolved away from me,inevitably.

  • 56:59

    SHARON: I do worry also about when he gets a bit olderand starts drinking.That's my next hurdle, I think.And I am not looking forward to that one at all.

  • 57:10

    HELEN: In a few years' time, he'sgoing to be ready to drive a car, go to the pub,and get a job.And that's it, then.He's kind of adult and done.That's it.Over and done with.That's in the next five years.It's going to go too quickly.

  • 57:27

    MARIE: I used watch programs where women usedto say empty nest syndrome.And I'm like, oh, I can't wait for them to go.And I actually miss him.I actually miss being a mother.

  • 57:40

    KERRY: Children are only children for so long.It'll be like that and he'll be 18.

  • 57:47

    SPEAKER 9: You can't keep them children forever, can you?They've got to grow up sometime.[MUSIC PLAYING]

Abstract

To understand ordinary family lives in the 21st century, the BBC followed a group of British children from birth. Thirteen years later, the families of these children have changed. Divorce, hormones, and family deaths are now a part of life.

Looks like you do not have access to this content.

Child of our Time: Changing Families

To understand ordinary family lives in the 21st century, the BBC followed a group of British children from birth. Thirteen years later, the families of these children have changed. Divorce, hormones, and family deaths are now a part of life.