Should I get support for my DD?(13 Posts)
So let me post a backdrop so you can see the context and understand what's happened to date (I apologise in advance as it will be really really long probably but we've got about 6 years or more to cover!!).
My DD (now 15 just turned) is a lovely, fun, outgoing, social, kind and accepting. XH and me split in 2008 and after that we had EOW contact plus roughly half the hols. This went on ok with her DB for quite a few years and I guess holes appeared over time. She would see her DGPs as well quite regularly really. The sad thing is the family dynamics, issues with XH having a personality disorder and favouritism etc along with heavy doses of denial of any issues by that side of the family.
DD has known she is bottom of the pile in terms of the whole group of GChildren for quite some time and that has hurt her many times as you can imagine. Many slights and negative comments later and at Easter 2016 she could no longer tolerate the idea of going to her dad's for one week of the holidays and broke down in tears - absolutely BROKEN in the car and I said ok love if you can't do it, you're not going. Prior to this in 2012 I tried (and failed) to convey issues around how they treated her, their lack of appreciation of her growing up, the inappropriate and obvious favouritism of others, the damage to her. I predicted that if they didn't sort it, she wouldn't want to see them. Sadly this came true the previous Easter and she's had f all contact with any of them since then.
Sadly, her dear dad (who is a weak, feckless knob jockey) talks the talk about NR parenting but doesn't walk the walk. She said to him she couldn't cope with seeing him at his location (90 miles away) could he for a while come see her here even if it was only once a month, he didn't of course (couldn't be arsed) so the contact has dwindled to 0.
She got defriended by a whole group of girls last year as well and spent most of the summer on her own, v v v upsetting for her (and for me, it truly was awful - thank god I was unemployed at the time and was able to give constant support).
So now she virtually never sees her dad, worries about losing contact with her other side of the family including one cousin, and has recently had yet another bout of friendship stupidity (not at her instigation) which has and is (right this second) affecting a long-awaited highly expensive school trip overseas about which I am utterly livid and distressed about as she's just been pushed out by the bitchy girl and had to spend a 4 hour flight totally on her own.
I can see where these issues over the past have served to make her feel like utter shit. Obviously I've done my absolute best to bolster her, tell he how fab she is but please don't anyone tell me 'oh she needs to man up' - she has manned up, but a lot of this has been utterly heartbreaking for her. I see at times how she has become hypersensitised to being the one who gets treated differently/less well and try and help her manage that. I see that at Xmas and birthdays because she has been made to become SO conscious about not being treated unfairly (although she still is) that she could come across as grabby - it's her attempts to be treated fairly that make it appear so as she's intrinsically not like that in fact very generous of spirit, never forgets a birthday or special event and very fair about how she treats people so it's borne of the unfairness of treatment she's had, not a defect in her herself (if that makes sense).
Today this sitting on the plane on her own has really affected me. The girl who's been shit stirring against DD jumped up and 'forced' her way into a row of three as the third person leaving DD on her own for the flight.
Now I did say to DD the other day look, you can't change what other people do, you can only change how you react. Wise words indeed and worthy of a poster but harder to enact and embrace when you're 15 years old and have essentially suffered years of self esteem-wrecking behaviours from others who should love you and care for you and show it. This sitting on her own thing she's really struggled with - no matter what I say to her she's absolutely gutted to have had to do that flight for his fabulous trip, on her own.
Now I don't feel I'm expecting too much - I DO expect her to struggle with this - even without the issues she's faced in her last 5 yrs it would be not something you'd want to do at that age, but with them it's really affected her. She can't be made into Teflon but I don't know how to support her.
She's sound of mind (despite 'D'XH suggesting that he desire not to go down and see him was HER having a mental problem (when in fact it's him and his parents and his wife who have total denial syndrome)) - she hasn't got a mental health problem other than some understandable anxiety caused by him and his family and wife, not because she's got some inherent defect.
I've tried very carefully to support her and be as impartial and non ex bashing as I can however I have had to explain to some extent (in order for her to understand that how he treats her isn't her fault or some unlovability defect in her) that he was like this with me. I never felt loved and that it's him with the problem not her. And I supported her the very best I could when her 'friends' fucked her off last summer (which was probably almost worse than the issues with her dad and family) but I'm wondering, should I find someone independent for her to talk to as I'm struggling to imbue her with the resilience to cope with things like - sitting on a four hour flight on your own and how not to feel rejected and shitty about that at the age of 15.
Should I take her to the GP (is that what I have to do) - or will they have no interest unless she's cutting herself or threatening suicide? Would there be a massive waiting list (MH services being what they are)? Would I be better to find a private counsellor and if so, what do I need - a clinical child psycholgist or what MH specialty would they need?
I'm all too acutely aware that for the future she is much more likely to end up with substance abuse (fact) or with men who don't quite give her what she needs and end up in an abusive/controlling relationship because of where she's been placed in her life and I am just wondering if anyone has had anything similar with their child/DD and can offer insight/ advice on what exact route to go for help? I try to be impartial but of course, you never can fully be, and of course, I'm not a psychologist.
I don't feel she has a particular MH problem (although anxiety at times and a underlying lack of confidence which has actually always been there) but it's just to give her the insight/thinking strategies that move her away from 'oh poor me' (even though at times shes had every right to feel that) but to a point of resilience and ability to compartmentalise negative stuff without losing her inherent loving and open nature but preserving her self esteem and belief in herself whilst being able to bat back the negative crap without her feeling 'this is all about what people think of me'. God knows she's not unreasonable to have come to that conclusion but I fear it's giving her a bit of a fatalistic attitude to setbacks that could lead her into depression/poor decision-making/crap relationships/drugs as an anaesthetic, in the future.
I'm not sure if I need a counsellor, a child psychologist, a child psychiatrist or what really.
Wow long post and it's hard to make sense of.
Family dynamics aside, am sure she would benefit from some counselling and support.
I would start with the GP.
Access to MH services depends a lot on where you live, but they should be able to signpost to support services. Where we l
Young Minds are also very helpful.
And be mindful of the fact that at her age she is able to see GP on her own...
my DD has been in similar situations. the GP is a good starting point, however waiting lists for counseling and MH services tend to be really long. I spoke with DD's school and she is now getting counseling twice a month through well women while I still wait to hear from another agency. it's frustrating when you recognize that they need early intervention but they wont get to the top of the list unless they are at crisis point. you may find something like turn2me.org or mind useful websites
I agree with the PP that your DD would benefit from some counselling and support. Do the school have any provision for this? They should at least be informed of the social exclusion (bullying) that your DD is facing on the school trip. If they're not able to help, then i would certainly book a GP appointment.
My own DD (also 15yo) has been having problems with anxiety and her school have arranged a mentor for her. Someone she can meet and talk to every week, even when she's coping ok. At home i make time to sit and listen to her every day.
Unfortunately your DD can't change the family dynamics unless the others want to too. Does she keep in touch with her cousin on social media? Maybe that would be worth suggesting? Or how about inviting them over to you during school holidays if they're similar in age?
Does she have any hobbies? Something outside of school? Something that she feels like she's good at and can make friends without having to go through school?
It's a very clear post (not sure why a pp thought it was hard to make sense of...).
Poor thing. She must feel very rejected and it must be very difficult to instil in her that her fathers family and her so called friends rejection isn't because of her, it's them.
Four suggestions. Contact school asap about being isolated and bullied. Enrol her in an out of school activity or voluntary work, or paid work to give her a break and start to build her self esteem. Counselling - ask school for pointers. Lastly, consider changing school for sixth form - it may be a while away but having somewhere new in the not too distant future might be enough to get her through the last year of school.
Thanks recent PPers.
The isolation was confined to last summer and thankfully she's managed to get through it. At the time she absolutely refused for me to involve the school. In actual fact, there really wasn't much point really (she was right) because they can't force people to be her friend, you know? I was only semi comfortable with this decision but her anxiety peaked when I started talking about involving the school and I think it would in fact have made it worse.
She seems a bit happier today on her trip and I'm going to ask her to speak to the teacher who's leading it (she really likes this teacher and he's aware of the stirring etc that was taking place the week before the trip was due to depart) and ask him if he can make sure she can check in first with a friend in an attempt to sit together or can he somehow organise it as she sat on her own for the whole of the outbound flight, see if he's willing to do anything to help with that for the return journey. For the rest of this trip though I'll get an update tonight and she has sent photos and she looks happy enough so hopefully the wonders of the destination and the excitement of their activities today will lessen any stupidness from the other girls.
She has kinda got someone from pastoral who she can talk to but I think she finds it embarrassing - I'm not sure about counselling at the school itself and whether we might be better looking for someone private (but no idea of the cost of that). I need to find out what access to MH services they have, waiting list times and then figure something out.
She clearly feels the fear of losing that side of her family especially the cousin but yes keeps in touch through social media with her and we're trying to find a weekend where they can get together soon. It's quite heartbreaking when I found her a couple of months ago creating a photo album of all that side of her family - they have no idea what they've done to her. So it's difficult for her to say well you know what I'm just going to go NC with my dad because she probably fears losing other members of the family (although obviously I'd do as much as I could to prevent that). They do live a fair distance though so it's not easy to achieve.
He upset her again recently did Dear old Dad, to do with her birthday, and she loves him and is desperate for him to love her back in a way that has meaning to her and I have to explain well you know that's how he was with me and I'll guarantee you he'd like it with his new wife. The common theme is him - you, me and his current wife are all very different but we're all experiencing the same thing, not feeling loved by him so the only thing to understand is that this is how he is and he can't change and that if you want to keep having contact at times it will literally do your head in - but that's inevitable unfortunately and so I leave it to her whether at some point in her future she decides NC is the way to go or finds other ways to cope with his weirdness.
When she had her real good (crap as it turned out but it was good at the time) BFF they did classes together. At the moment she's not got a specific extra curricular activity but she's part of a dance group and has extra stuff on with them including performances outside of school etc. I have been thinking about voluntary but what can she do - can she do that national volunteering thing - not sure what ages that's for? She's only 15 so I'm not sure where to go to find out about volunteering opportunities - any ideas?
Yes, as to the future she's not sure what she wants to do yet (I've got no particular favourites) but she may end up doing something within the arts at a local college or I suggested she could do an apprenticeship, earn some money, pick up dance classes etc in her local city and decide what she thinks she wants to do. I do feel I am nursing her though this last year of school.
Two upshots of what she's been through are a lack of confidence when push comes to shove, and she's had to 'mature' a lot in order to cope with the hell she's been through and thus she's a lot more developed in her thinking and reasoning (well, as developed as you can be at 15 of course!!) but she's kind of streets ahead her other friends in many ways on that score and she just finds the whole bitchyness thing really pathetic and I can't wait for her to move and hopefully find likeminded people at a different place. I think college rather than sixth form would suit her much better and there's a really cool college nearby that I think would really suit her. The future is going to be good, I think she just needs someone independent to talk to and maybe a few coping mechanisms she can learn, I don't know.
Definitely will look at the websites mentioned too.
Sorry I meant to ask, is it a child psychologist that you need - what particular specialty would be the most appropriate??
At 15yo she can be a volunteer helper and train to be a young leader with rainbows/brownies/guides. My DD is doing that as part of her DofE.
DD also goes to a music group on Saturdays that doesn't involve any of her school friends. She finds the slightly older students there more on her level.
OP, you are probably not going to like what I will say, so feel free to ignore, but sometimes playing devils' advocate can help.
You say that you try to be impartial but are you really? Reading your post, it feels like reading a story of a perfect child being abused again and again by other people through no fault of theirs. Are you absolutely certain that your daughter is as pleasant, friendly, caring as you believe she is, or she is with you, as she could act very differently with others.
I am the type to believe that there is rarely fre without smoke, but that sometimes, we don't realise that we are creating smoke ourselves. I totally agree with you that it is essential that you are there for her, providing support and helping her go through her difficult times, but are you doing so in confirming that all what is happening to her is the result of people action, or are you also helping her to gain self-awareness of her actions which MAY contribute to the way people treat her?
I think it can be very difficult as parents to take a partial view to the situations our children face when they are clearly in pain because it is our natural instinct to want to protect them against harm, but sometimes, doing that can be end up with more harm than good. On this basis, I do agree that she would benefit from seeing a counsellor.
Saying all that, I think the misdemeanor of her dad giving up on her and not willing to make an effort to spend some one to one time with her dreadful. She is still only a child and however frustrated he is with her refusal to come any longer, he should accept that he is the adult and he should make an effort to try to resolve the issues rather than pretend she is not worth it.
He won't make the effort, ever, regarding coming up to see her instead. He's never been to a single parent's even for either child in the 8+ years we've been living here so that's an intractable position which will never change.
Am I sure it's not something that she's doing? Yes.
If she's into dance maybe a singing class as well. Or helping with younger kids at the dance class. Your library might have a reading scheme where teens help younger kids. National citizen service might fill a gap over the summer. Or a musical theatre group. Cadets? Rangers? Scouts? Young leader with those groups. Paper round? Waitressing in a cafe. All confidence building stuff.
I keep trying to get her to do singing or drama but she blinkin' well won't have it!
I'll have a look and see what I can find, cheers.
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