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 kneels next 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 for school.

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

Mother Karin has a personality disorder (borderline) and often has a hard time with herself. The groceries, the laundry, dinner, it often comes down to Nikki.

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


It’s all very complicated for the young girl: who should she choose, her parents or herself? Master Mark is Nikki’s great support, but when she goes to seventh 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 has just grown up, about the documentary. “All scenes with or about my father remain painful. But actually everyone should have a documentary about themselves. It gives you a lot of insight. I can understand myself better now.”

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

Damaged Families

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

“With the pure intention to help children from damaged families”, mother Karin now 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 to intensive therapy, she is doing much better now than at the time of the shooting.

“It’s strange to see that I was so in survival mode those years. I realize the impact of it on Nikki. Now it touches me very deeply and I think: God bless, I had so many people from healthcare institutions around me. Why does no one have 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 Nikki and a friend talk about the memories that come up during therapy while dyeing their hair red and blue. ‘Things like my father tried to kill my mother and stuff’, Nikki gives as an example.

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

Over half a million Nikki’s

The documentary, which can be seen on Videoland from 6 p.m. Monday, is dedicated to ‘the millions of Nikki’s in the world’. And in particular to the approximately 577,500 children in the Netherlands who grow up with parents who suffer from psychological or addiction problems. “65 percent of these children also 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. She will soon start training as a social worker, and wants to study neurology via HBO to university.

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

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