This is what it feels like when your parents can’t take care of you

It’s the world upside down. When the alarm goes off, 11-year-old Nikki kneelsnext to her mother’s bed to tell her to get up. If she sleeps undisturbed,she’ll probably make her a cup of coffee, let the dog out and leave forschool.

While Master Mark’s 8th grade Nikki draws a grim chalk drawing of her father’sloss (see video below), her mother sits in the living room in a dressing gowntaking her medication.

Mother Karin has a personality disorder (borderline) and often has a hard timewith herself. The groceries, the laundry, dinner, it often comes down toNikki.

Her father leads a nomadic life, does not keep visiting appointments, but thensuddenly stands in the schoolyard with a sweet card or enters Nikki’s house asa burglar with a package full of gift vouchers.


It’s all very complicated for the young girl: who should she choose, herparents or herself? Master Mark is Nikki’s great support, but when she goes toseventh grade it falls away and things go wrong.

‘I’m releasing something personal’

It is ‘intense and unreal’ to see yourself on a screen, says Nikki, who hasjust grown up, about the documentary. “All scenes with or about my fatherremain painful. But actually everyone should have a documentary aboutthemselves. It gives you a lot of insight. I can understand myself betternow.”

She finds it exciting how people will react. “I don’t know what to expect. Iagree that the documentary has been made, but it is something very personalthat I release. I will no longer have a choice about what I do and don’t tellpeople about my childhood.”

Damaged Families

It was six years ago that her mother gave permission for documentary makerMonique Nolte to let her camera into their house.

“With the pure intention to help children from damaged families”, mother Karinnow says about it. “I want those children to be seen, especially at school.Such a child must be able to feel safe there. That is not possible at home.”

Karin also found it intense to see the documentary, she says. Thanks tointensive therapy, she is doing much better now than at the time of theshooting.

“It’s strange to see that I was so in survival mode those years. I realize theimpact of it on Nikki. Now it touches me very deeply and I think: God bless, Ihad so many people from healthcare institutions around me. Why does no onehave really helped me? I missed guidance.”

“Jesus, what have I done to her?”

The most painful moment for Karin is a short scene at the end, in which Nikkiand a friend talk about the memories that come up during therapy while dyeingtheir hair red and blue. ‘Things like my father tried to kill my mother andstuff’, Nikki gives as an example.

“I was so upset about that,” says Karin. “The way she says it shocked me. Asif it is actually quite normal. Jesus, what have I done to her, I thoughtthen.”

Over half a million Nikki’s

The documentary, which can be seen on Videoland from 6 p.m. Monday, isdedicated to ‘the millions of Nikki’s in the world’. And in particular to theapproximately 577,500 children in the Netherlands who grow up with parents whosuffer from psychological or addiction problems. “65 percent of these childrenalso develop a mental disorder or addiction,” reads the warning at the end.

Although Nikki is also on the medication in the film, just like her mother,she has been off the medication for over a year now, she says proudly. Shewill soon start training as a social worker, and wants to study neurology viaHBO to university.

“I’m working hard not to end up like my parents. It’s hard because it’s veryhard to get up from the bottom of society, but I’m confident I’ll get there.”