4yo traumatised by dad suddenly leaving.(14 Posts)
In January my 4 year daughters dad* saw her off to school as normal, but when she came home he'd moved out. She's seen him once since (only because she was worried he was dead) but won't be seeing him again. She's obviously finding it really hard to deal with.
She's always been fine with separation. I would put her to bed, shut the door, and not hear a peep until morning. She would get dressed and go into school perfectly happy. She was fine doing things alone...
Now she's sleeping in my bed, clinging to me after her story, begging me not to leave. She cries whenever school is mentioned, she sobs all the way there, crying hysterically to stay with me - to the point her teacher needs to pull her off me in the morning. She continues to cry throughout the day and children are starting to call her a "cry baby".
She cries leaving me to go into her dance class and comes out multiple times to see me and is on my knee, wrapped around me, whenever she can. She obsessively tells me she loves me, hundreds of times a day. She's super clingy, she wants to be with me all the time...
She's like an entirely different person.
Full personality transplant.
She's totally traumatised.
I think she just doesn't want to leave my side incase I disappear too.
Has anyone been through similar? I don't know what to do.
(*He's not her biological father but he raised her as his own and lived with us for all her living memory. Although she knows he's not her real dad, she obviously doesn't really understand that and so all her "dad love" is with him. She thinks of all his family members as hers e.g. his sister as her "aunty" etc. And hasn't even realised yet that she won't be seeing them again either)
Oh this is so upsetting to read about - it must be incredibly difficult for you both right now.
All you can do is keep her close to you and to reinforce her relationship with the rest of your family. The poor little girl - she will recover from this but it'll take time.
Don't really have anything to say OP, poor girl, she must be terrified of losing you. Time will help when she realises you're not going to leave her
Has he said why he doesn't want to see her?
Oh so sorry she's going through this. And you OP. I've no experience of this to offer advice but I can understand why she's scared you'll leave too.
I think only time, and lots and lots of reassurance and cuddles will help her get through this. Perhaps she could take a picture of you to school with her and you could write on the back, "Mummy promises I will be there to meet you after school" or something. So she can hold it in her pocket and feel that promise?
I also hope you're getting support IRL too OP.
Allow her to regress to a younger her, it's completely normal when something so traumatic as losing a parent happens. The feeling of rejection must be awful.
I'd try to get advice from charities that deal with loss/bereavement and get some appropriate books to read. Key advice is often to try and make sure life is really structured and highly predictable and give her time. After the worried 'I love you' phase, you might get a phase where, as she's rebuilding confidence, she's doing the opposite: Terrible behaviour, I hate you etc, to see if you really really mean it that you'll be there for her forever. In a way, awful as it is at the time, that can be a really good sign of her working through the loss.
It must be so so tough when you're probably hurting yourself. (Hug!)
Poor little thing
Her response is actually pretty rational
Time and plenty of reassurance.
You must be so angry at the way he has treated you both.
You mention it maybe being followed by an "I hate you" phase and she is actually doing that along side her clingy phase - but directed to her grandad.
She's being awful to him. Everything he says or does she's cruel to him and calls him names. She doesn't want I see him and let's him know she doesn't want to be around him.
Her biological father and I broke up before she was born and he takes her out for a few hours every couple of months (they have literally no bond whatsoever. She even calls him by his name half the time instead of dad).
I think my partner leaving, on top of her bio dad's hideously awful relationship with her, has really turned her against men and that's why she's being sp cruel to my dad and trying to push him away.
Sounds like it, or at least testing whether the remaining important man in her life is going to be unwavering in his affection. None of this is conscious of course, definitely not in a 4-year old, but it's really common and thinking about it makes sense, which then can make it easier to live with a little one who is hurting. I'd guess a continued strong relationship with granddad is really important if he can bear the rejection for a while.
How awful. Who is responsible for the end of contact? Would he be prepared to have some or has he ended it?
From her point of view he may as well have died so i think you need to accept this as deeply traumatic. My father lost his dad aged 4 and it affected his whole life.
Can you seek professional help and guidance so that you help her deal witj it in the best way possible. ?
Also. Why won't she see his family members again - can't they keep up a relationship even if it gradually tapers off?
Is it him or you who is completely ending contact it sounds an awful situation.
It's him who's ended contact. When I ask he says he'd love to see her but is busy and will arrange something for the next week... which he doesn't do.
And if I'm honest part of the reason he left is that he fell down a slope of alcohol and cocaine, where he suddenly wanted to be out all the time getting out his mind like a 20 year old instead of the responsible 32 year old he was. He moved in with a friend who has drugs casually placed around the house, and I'm not sure I want her exposed to his newly self destructive bahaviour.
His family live quite far away (about an hours drive) so we only see them when we all go for Sunday dinner/family occasions/on holidays together etc. There's never a time we see them without my ex, so I don't see a way we could see them now.
His sister is totally heart broken and says she would love to still be part of her life (she thinks of dd completely as her family - as do all his family actually) but she lives in London and is never up where we live.
He needs to come over and properly explain why he has left and that she still loves her extra and that it's not because he doesn't love her that he left. Even if he doesn't come to see her regularly, he needs to do this. All you can do is reassure her all the time that you will never leave her. Let her sleep in your bed.
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