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10 yo DD affected by difficult past

(4 Posts)
londoner01 Wed 01-Jun-11 12:47:13

My DD has had a very tricky childhood with our family circumstances- very messy divorce with her falling out with her father and him not really bothering anymore/hes swung in and out of her life for the past few years, he had no acknowledgement at any point of DDs feelings about his very public, very messy affair with a 19 year old who was in rehab (dont ask!) her relationship to her father deteriorated as he tried to continue as normal when he did bother, and wouldnt acknowledge her feelings and so blamed her for the situation saying she was naughty etc. it got to the point of him being very nasty and abusive to her when I started to try and protect her and took action in terms of family therapists, courts etc until last year when it was decided through courts contact should stop and is only required if she wants it.
She is a bottler, very anxious and confused. She acts now as if it doesnt bother her and shes moved on but I know shes 10 and it must affect her even if she doesnt quite understand exactly why and will do in the future. She is reluctant to speak about it and if we do talk about her father it either is her avoiding the topic, answering me very short, or her in floods of tears very distressed by the memories of what shes been though.

I have tried to speak to her about counselling, or getting help, made sure she doesnt want to see her dad and she knows she can talk about him- but she woulnt have any of it, she says she 'just wants to get on with life and no one understands anyway'
I dont know what to do- she NEEDS help but woulnt take it, gets very upset if i force it. I think half of it is she is very shy and the thought of talking to someone about it.

I know her shyness is worsened by whats happened, her father drummed into her it was all her fault their relationship deteriorated and that she was acting extremely. In his attempts to try and 'make things normal' he'd tease her and get angry and tell her off for crying or not behaving how she used to with him. He'd try and force her to see his girlfriend and got angry if she'd refuse, telling her she needs to accept how life is now. Looking back i can see how much this is ingrained in her- that it is her fault, she isnt 'normal' and i think she feels very unwanted. this is all from what she says when she is upset (rarely shows her emotions to me though).

I dont know what to do to help her. I can see shes affected by it, and perhaps she cant see exactly how hence is saying she just needs to move on. Any one got any advice on other types of help or ways to support her?

Buda Wed 01-Jun-11 12:58:10

How sad for her.

I am not sure you can or should try and force her to deal with any of it just yet.

Maybe a one time open frank conversation along the lines of "I love you and I do worry about you. NONE of it was your fault. Your father should not have put you through any of that. If and when you do ever want to talk about him and how you feel you know that I am here and either you can talk to me or we can find someone else for you to talk to - someone you can be completely honest to without worrying that you are saying the wrong thing or hurting me or your Dad."

Another suggestion could be a diary/journal for her to write down how she is feeling about things and you promise her that you will not read it unless she wants you to.

Happymum22 Wed 01-Jun-11 13:27:46

Agree with buda, you need to make sure she knows its not her fault, reinforce it and that she dealt with it so well, and your so proud of how mature and strong she has been, but you want her to know she can let her emotions out and be sad sometimes and that is normal.
Maybe write a letter if you think speaking she would be defensive or get very upset.
poor girl, she seems to have been though a lot.
What about her school? Do they know? Would they be able to provide help in any way?
Make up for her fathers treatment with bundles of pride, positivity, care and reinforcement that she is good enough and show her you think the world of her. Maybe talk to her teacher so she is reinforcing all this too.
In many ways perhaps she is right, she is too young to fully understand things, too soon to deal with things- the way he treated her will affect her for a long time and she needs to move on with her life and surround herself with happiness and normality before the is strong enough and ready to deal with her past.
Bless her, I really hope she can get through this and see it is not her fault.

londoner01 Thu 02-Jun-11 14:23:45

thank you, great advice and so true- she is too young/too soon to face it all and understand it enough to deal with it. Its more the feeling that its her fault and the effects it has had on her self esteem i want to deal with.
Her school know but dont seem to get involved or offer much support. I could talk to them again and ask for them to focus on her confidence as i can see how much its knocked her. Shes always been v shy but was getting more confident and 'growing out of it' and making loads of progress until she was hit with what she went through with her dad.
anyone got any more advice or experiences? this is really helping just hearing others views on it all.

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