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Child mental health

uncomfortable about questions counsellor asking

38 replies

worriedmama72 · 22/01/2022 12:55

I'm looking for advice and hopefully others experiences as I'm worried about something my 13 year old DD's counsellor has asked her. She has counselling because of difficulties in her relationship with her Father (my ex), there's a massive backstory but I'd prefer not to go into it. The aim of the therapy is to help her deal with overwhelming feelings she has thus far been unable to and have caused a lot of anxiety, outbursts, lack of sleep etc.

The therapist apparently asked her if her Father had an affair with her step mother. This led to her confronting me with the question and outlining that from her point of view the timeline of our separation, their marriage etc did not add up etc. In short, she had already reached the conclusion her Father may have had an affair.

Is anyone able to help me understand why on earth a child therapist would ask this kind of question or what the therapeutic value doing so would be? This has opened a huge can of worms, more questions and I cannot see how this ''helps'' her or supports a better relationship with her Father. It feels unethical.

OP posts:

NoSquirrels · 22/01/2022 22:37

her chief complaint in recent years is his controlling ways, her sense 'he does not care' how she feels and how she feels ''punished'' if she does not do / behave as he wishes.

So, the counsellor is validating her. That’s important.

I absolutely understand you’ve done what you’ve been advised to do, and who wants to be responsible for ‘poisoning’ their small child against the other parent.

I understand.

But please don’t look on her asking questions now as being negative. She deserves to understand it’s him, not her. He’s the common factor in the difficult relationships, not her.

You don’t need to badmouth him. You won’t be the person who causes parental alienation. If, as a teenager, she decides not to see him, after counselling to explore her feelings, that’s not on you.

Support your daughter age-appropriately and with honesty. That’s the very best you can do.


worriedmama72 · 22/01/2022 23:03

@Clymene I explained that I was trying to protect her and avoid my experience influencing her views. I wanted her to be free to have a relationship with her Father. The advice I had all those years ago was repeated 3 years ago when he last took me to court. It is perceived as alienation and they strongly believe children always benefit from a relationship with both parents except in the most extreme cases. I've felt very guilty having answered her questions honestly as it feels like ''bad mouthing''. I have no wish to prevent a relationship and I've done all I can to support one. I'm now wondering if that is part of the problem.

OP posts:

NoSquirrels · 22/01/2022 23:10

9/10 is not 13/14. The balance of ‘parental alienation’ vs ‘competent minor’ is shifting. Your explanations can shift too.

Take care, OP Flowers


lisaandalan · 22/01/2022 23:16

It's relevant and probably has made her dislike him even more. X


WhenZoomWasJustAnIceLolly · 23/01/2022 00:17

The family courts always take this view and in my opinion it is highly damaging.


Gem176 · 23/01/2022 00:17

She needs to understand that her father is an abusive and controlling man who behaves poorly towards others. His behaviour towards her is nothing personal against her, he's just not a good or nice person. Understanding that is hugely important to your dds mental well-being. This is what her therapist is helping with.

The advice you were given was misguided at best. A good relationship with both parents is good for children, not having your parents talk poorly of one another is also good for children. However encouraging a parent to lie to their child is not good for the child. Leopards never change their spots. Your poor dd is now subject to his awful behaviour which doesn't match up with this picture perfect daddy you were told to portray him as. That is damaging enough. To not allow her to understand how he has behaved in the past and continue to paint perfect daddy is hugely damaging to her self esteem and ultimately her mental health. Forcing a relationship with him is also damaging. If he takes you to court at this point your dd is more than old enough to decide who she wants a relationship with and if she doesn't want one with him then he's going to have to suck it up as the court will listen to her.

You say he seems happy in his new relationship yet almost no one knew what was really going on in your relationship. At 7 she may have started noticing behaviours towards his new wife/partner that made her uncomfortable and that started to sour the relationship. Children are highly perceptive.

She has asked the questions and you have answered honestly. She now needs to explore her feeling towards her father with her therapist now she is armed with additional facts. You are no longer obligated to facilitate, support or otherwise encourage a good relationship between them. Your only obligation is to your dd and supporting her. At 13 she can set her boundaries and you supporting her decisions means she will feel comfortable setting boundaries as an adult which is such and important thing for young women to learn.

You have done your best by your daughter with some crappy advice and an abusive ex to deal with. Not easy. Being honest with her and supporting her will be invaluable to her going forward.


worriedmama72 · 23/01/2022 20:40

Thank you very much everyone for your comments and support. Despite his behavior towards her, which was known to the court, It has been drilled into me so many times the importance of being 'supportive' and promoting their relationship. My life has therefore been doing that and picking up the pieces / wiping the tears each time he hurts her. As I've re-read & reflected on this thread I can see how she may well feel gaslight by ME. I have to also admit talking about that topic with her was very triggering for me and that may be a factor in how I've reacted to all this. All these comments have offered a different perspective and I appreciate everyone who took the time to post.

I need to take a step back and allow her to take the lead in her relationship with her Father rather than feel responsible for doing it for him. She is older now and has her own mind, I know and certainly we've adjusted in other areas of life as one does with a child of this age. I've given her the information she wanted and it appears to have satisfied her. Hopefully she can now come to terms with all this and as suggested forge a healthy way forwards, develop her own boundaries on what she is comfortable with.

OP posts:

NoSquirrels · 23/01/2022 22:04

You’re a good parent, OP. Flowers


EmmasMum12 · 23/01/2022 22:20

Your daughter can only make choices about her relationship with her father when she knows the truth - the whole story

You were very badly advised and the lies you told your daughter were extremely unhelpful

You can change all that now and help her make her own choices and decisions based on the truth


Clymene · 23/01/2022 22:26

I think you and your daughter will come through this really well and your relationship will strengthen as a result.

You're enormously brave and I admire you immensely for how you've dealt with such a difficult situation.

Your daughter is very lucky to have you as her mum


cansu · 23/01/2022 22:34

I think you just have to tell her that she was too young to know the finer details and that you were told that she should not know these things.

I can see why you are annoyed tbh. I think therapy can be very disturbing. I had some for a while and I actually think it made my issues worse. It was like scratching a wound and not allowing it to heal. I know the conventional wisdom is that everything must be discussed and known but I am not completely convinced. Nevertheless, this is really what you sign up for if you accept therapy.


worriedmama72 · 23/01/2022 23:30

Thank you so much everyone. I feel a huge amount of guilt for what she was exposed to as an infant & all I've wanted to do is make it 'all better'. In doing so I've made it harder for her. I can't change the past, or my choices to date but this thread has been really helpful to see that there is a different way of looking at this situation.

@Clymene & @NoSquirrels thank you so much x

OP posts:

oncemoreunto · 24/01/2022 03:10

I also think that you are good parent and your relationship with your dd should only improve in the long term with the therapy you are supporting her with now.

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