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Advice on worried DSD - please help

(11 Posts)
BaronessOrczy Tue 31-May-11 10:33:10

DSD is 7, a lovely girl, bright and bubbly and has a good relationship with her dad (my DP) and a great relationship with her mum. Sorry for the length of this post but I don't want to dripfeed.

We live 6 hours drive away which means we don?t get to spend as much time with her as we would like, but we skype, write, email and call regularly, and see her once a month. DSD suffers terribly from car sickness and whilst we would love to have her to stay for a few days, the car sickness is not the only issue?

We?ve just spent the long weekend with her, had a great time ? we stayed in a nearby B&B, had her for the day on Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning. This morning we got a phone call from her mum to say that DSD is getting really stressed about our summer holiday (we have booked a cottage for a week on the coast and will be taking her grandparents down with us so we can all spend some time together ? again, they write, call and skype regularly). What she?s worried about is staying over. She literally throws the screaming ab dabs, becomes very distressed, and will make herself sick. It?s not even like a tantrum, it?s beyond that. She has said that she is very excited about being with us all, but is absolutely determined not to stay over.

Before I got together with DP he had regular visits with her (he used to live a lot closer) but she got so distressed as a toddler about sleeping somewhere other than home, she stopped staying over with him when she was about 4. Rightly or wrongly, he agreed with his ex that it was just causing too many problems (for his DD, not for him, to be clear). Since then, she has only stayed away from home when she has been on holiday with her mum.

Her mum would like DSD to stay over, but doesn?t want her to make herself poorly, understandably so. But at the same time I feel like saying, she?s 7, why on earth is she even worrying about something which is happening in 6 months time? Why is it ?her decision?? And what are we going to do? She is suggesting that we pick DSD up each morning and she will pick her up in the evenings, unless DSD decides she is happy to stay over. That just seems ludicrous. The cottage is about 55 minutes away from their house, we didn?t want to go too far because of the carsickness issue. Maybe this was the wrong thing to do. I feel like saying ?man up, for god?s sake? ? but of course, I never would, that?s a comment for MN only. I think we need to find out what she?s scared of and deal with that.

We were so hoping this would mark the start of a gradual move towards weekends away, potential trips to stay with us, being able to include her on holidays etc. DP is terribly upset that DSD has been worrying about this all weekend, but is also reaching the end of his tether and feels that unless there is a start towards staying over then how is his relationship with his daughter ever going to move forward. I?m upset because he?s upset but feel we need to work towards a solution ? together with his XP ? which I am happy to do, but it feels like I?m being dictated to by a 7 year old! She?s not spoilt, she?s lovely, but we have to crack this staying over issue. Will we still have this issue when she is 10, 12 ? how long do we put up with this?

He and I will do whatever it takes, we want her to be happy, and I really hope you have some wise words.

Thank you in advance.

GinAndWater Tue 31-May-11 16:06:49

It's hard to say when you don't know the child. Is her mother a very anxious person too, sometimes it can rub off. Is it possible for DP, DSD and her mum to sit down and discuss things ?

I don't think the driving to and from the cottage is a good idea. Perhaps make her stay shorter so it's easier for her ?

I am sure someone else with more experience will come along and help as I haven't faced this type of situ before.

BaronessOrczy Tue 31-May-11 17:03:54

Thanks for posting, Gin. No, her mother is not anxious generally, is quite confident and very loving and supportive of DSD.

If they sat down together DSD would just clam up. She will worry and worry about things and tell her mum so that she doesn't have to talk to us about it, then her mum will call us.

She's not generally anxious, she can be a little hesitant and nervous at times, but no more so than anyone else I wouldn't say.

It's not the lenght of the stay at all, it's the overnight bit which is the problem. Part of me says that once she's done it for one night, then the rest of it will get easier.

It's also not going to be much of a holiday for us driving for 2 hours each day to pick her up! And it will add massively to the overall cost, not that I begrudge her it at all, but how long do we go on pandering to this?

hugeleyoutnumbered Tue 31-May-11 17:40:12

you said it started when her mum and dad seperated? do you think it may have started as a subconcious reaction to the seperation that has deteriorated over the years?

has she ever st(stayed at a friends house? stayed anywhere away from her mum, hospital maybe ?thinking that may have been a trigger?)

you may find that on holiday she completely relaxes and wants to stay, if not you are going to have to make that journey,]

I empathise with the travel sickness, i suffer too, not sure how or why but 2p held in my left hand stops it confused

BaronessOrczy Tue 31-May-11 19:58:06

DP and her mum separated when she was 8 months old, she's never really known any different. Been for a walk with DP tonight and I've suggested that it may be some kind of separation anxiety from all the emotion around the divorce, and perhaps they both need to sit down with her and reassure her she is loved and they both care about her.

She's not stayed at a friends, she becomes too distressed, ditto with family - it's been managed a couple of times with a lot of fuss and bother.

BaronessOrczy Tue 31-May-11 19:58:55

PS thanks for the 2p trick, we'll try it!

Smum99 Tue 31-May-11 20:50:35

Difficult to judge but the anxiety could be related to her feelings about her not leaving her mum. She might feel that she is letting her mum down by staying away. Often adult children of separated parents say that they felt a responsibility/or duty to one parent.

I would just go through a checklist to rule out if the problem is only related to your DP. Is she happy to stay away with anyone? Could the anxiety be about going to the toilet at night or sleeping in the dark?
I think you need to enlist help from the mum - what just she think is the issue? Would she support getting a counsellor? It might be worth your dp speaking to a counsellor, even if it's just how do you talk to SD about the phobia.

Great to hear that the mum is supportive - I'm sure the joined up effort will help SD in the long term

BaronessOrczy Wed 01-Jun-11 08:37:47

Thanks Smum, that's an interesting point, we'll look into it.

I don't think the counsellor suggestion would go down well for DSD, but I agree it might be a good idea to speak to one before we speak to her.

Thanks everyone!

glitzy Wed 01-Jun-11 11:58:45

This might seem like a daft idea...but could you not tell her that you will pick her up each day, and her DM collect her each evening at a certain time, but then make it so that at that time you are doing something really fun that she would not want to miss, and thus make her want to stay over. So say her DM will pick her up at 6pm, but then at half 4 (enough time to cancel collection) you start doing something fun, but then tell DSD that remember, she can only do it for an hour as then she has to go?

BaronessOrczy Wed 01-Jun-11 13:22:13

You mean blackmail, Glitzy grin?

It's a thought. More a distraction technique. Hmmmm.... will ponder it. It's a good idea, but I wonder how her mum will take that. I feel it needs to be a joined up approach and I'm not sure she'll go for it.

I think a distraction technique is definitely a good plan, I've already said to DP we need to wear her out with fresh air and exercise, feed her well, and keep having something to look forward to. Maybe we need to book things in for a specific time...thank you

glitzy Wed 01-Jun-11 14:07:41

Not blackmail as such grin, more of changing her mindset from being one of terrified of staying away, to staying away will be more fun, and the first night she will probably still want to leave...but as the week goes on and she misses more fun, well, she might change her mind?

Ok yeah blackmail grin

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