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Main Forums => Shrink Rap => Topic started by: IceMountain on May 06, 2004, 10:16:26 AM

Title: Advice on how to help son??? Kinda Long.
Post by: IceMountain on May 06, 2004, 10:16:26 AM
My son is 6 years old and lives with his mother.  I'm so worried about him and I'm not sure how to handle the situation.

To give you some background:
About 6 months ago my ex started to tell me that my son was scared to 'come to daddy's house'.  She said that he was afraid I would take him and not bring him back.  About 3 months ago she called me and my son was hysterical because he had just had a nightmare about the same thing.  That weekend he told me that he trusted me 'a little bit'.  Now, I'm not sure if he knows what trust means, but his mom does use the word alot when she is trying to talk him into trying something new, so I believe he has at least a small understanding of what trust is.  My son also told me that if his mom trusted me, he would trust me.

We do talk to my son alot about time frames.... I'll see you in 2 weeks, You'll be with daddy for 2 days, This summer you get to be with daddy for 6 weeks.  We show him on the calendar the days that are circled in red.

I've been trying especially hard for the past several months to do everything right.  I make a point to spend extra quality time alone with my son.  We take walks in the woods, we sit and talk, we read, we play.  My wife is very involved with my son.  He genuinely cares about her, and her about him.  I thought things were going better.  

Friday I went to pick up my son and my ex handed me paperwork from his counselor.  She had written suggestions for dealing with my son's fears about coming to my house.  I have to say it was like a slap in the face!  We couldn't believe what we were reading.

We tried to talk to my son.  He clammed up and looked like he was going to cry.  We tried gentle, open-ended questions that did not seem threatening.  We asked him if he was sad about anything, he said "no, ******, I'm not sad, look I'm happy".  When we turned to look he was smiling a fake smile and trying so hard to be strong, while there were tears in his eyes.

We have observed so many changes in him in the past 6 months.  He seems nervous or apprehensive when we pick him up, like he's not sure about going.  Once he is with us and settled he seems fine, it's just getting over the Friday hump that is so difficult.  (By saturday he will say things like 'How about I stay for 3 days' or when we are talking about summer he has said 'I want to stay for 7 weeks'.)  He's been more rude and sassy.  We've been having trouble with him following rules.  He has started calling my wife by her 'real' name rather than the nickname everybody calls her, and that he called her up to this point.  (no, it's not mom or anything like that, it is a shortened version of her name).  My ex and my dad are the only 2 people who call my wife by her real name.

I can't explain his fear and nervousness and anxiety about being with me.  We try so hard not to pry, but to try to figure out what is going on in a non-threatening way.  We make a very conscious effort not to talk about his mom or any adult issues concerning visitation, etc. when he is present.

Should I put him in my own counseling?  Or will the summer visitation by itself help with his security and fears?

Is this just something that is normal for his age?  Am I too concerned?  Am I focused on the wrong things here?  Am I trying too hard to find something wrong?  
Title: RE: Advice on how to help son??? Kinda Long.
Post by: Kitty C. on May 06, 2004, 10:26:19 AM
IM, you've got some SERIOUS PAS going on here!  Have you ever talked to your son's counselor?  Does the counselor know that the BM gave you this 'list'?  Your son needs someone he can talk to without the BM present.  And this will take a while, because she's obviously hammered on him pretty good.

Trust.........what an oxymoron for the BM!  That's just sick and twisted! This b**** has hammered your son with HER version of trust, because you MUST know that all these things he's supposedly saying at BM's and the counselor are false!

If you can't see his counselor yourself, I do recommend taking him to one yourself.  If the BM gets her knickers in a twist about it, tell her that you are only doing the prudent thing, something EVERYONE would do: get a second opinion, which is the absolute truth.  But you better start now, before she has her claws into him so deep that he really does start refusing to come with you.
Title: RE: I agree
Post by: hisliltulip on May 06, 2004, 11:24:03 AM
Sadly, I have to agree.  Somethings going on here.

Little red flags are going up all over for this one.

Get that child to your own therapist.

She's either saying stuff to him or around him that is freaking him out.

Hang in there, and God Bless.

Title: RE: Another perspective
Post by: DecentDad on May 06, 2004, 04:56:27 PM
Hi IceMountain,

Sorry for that pain you must be feeling, not knowing what's going on or why.

The missing question is... have you ever done anything to son that would make him apprehensive towards you?

That would include not being in his life for long periods of time, past violence, past disinterest, etc.

If so, then as you work on yourself, he should come around.

However, if you've always been the doting dad who has a good grasp on parenting, I'd agree with the other posters.

Check out (or buy) a book called Divorce Poison, by Richard Warshak.  It'll help explain what's going on, why son responds like he does, and what you can do to help him and your relationship with him.

Title: RE: Another perspective
Post by: IceMountain on May 09, 2004, 08:56:57 AM
Hi everyone and thanks for your advice.

I'm glad that you can see the same red flags that I do!  It's actually a good feeling to know that I'm not imagining things here.  I will be putting him in counseling this summer!!  

DD.... as for your questions.... No, I have not dropped out of my son's life for any period of time.  I have always exercised my visitation with him, and more when my ex will allow it.  There hasn't been any violence towards my son or my ex.  As for disinterest, that's also a negative.  My son is the most important thing in my life... and my wife's!

I've heard of the book Divorce Poison mentioned on here before.  I will see if my public library has a copy.

The thought that my son may refuse to come visit me because of my ex's claws is literally making me sick.  I have to do something about this, and fast!

Thanks again, and I'm sorry for the delay in replying to your posts!
Title: RE: Advice on how to help son??? Kinda Long.
Post by: IceMountain on May 09, 2004, 09:03:36 AM
I do have a contact number for his counselor.  How exactly do I approach her without appearing like I am attacking my ex, or the counselor?

What type of questions should I ask her?  I don't want to turn this into a he-said she-said with the counselor, I just want to get to the bottom of what is bothering my son.

Thanks Kitty!  Excellent advice and perspective, as usual!  :)
Title: RE: Advice on how to help son??? Kinda Long.
Post by: Kitty C. on May 10, 2004, 09:54:44 AM
As for the counselor, all I'd state is what your son has been saying to you and doing with you.  Keep the focus on your son and wait for the counselor to ask questions about your ex.  When that happens, keep it matter-of-fact and to the point.  Tell him/her what YOUR concerns are in regards to DS's behavior.
Title: One quick idea!
Post by: grazer on May 16, 2004, 06:46:26 AM
Most children that are experincing PAS, and even some that don't, have a difficult time adjusting when coming to the non-custodial/part time parent's.

You state:"He seems nervous or apprehensive when we pick him up, like he's not sure about going. Once he is with us and settled he seems fine, it's just getting over the Friday hump that is so difficult."
This is very typical. Especially if the child's custodial parent is attempting to harm the child's relationship with the non-custodial parent(PAS). Most children because they have been told things by their CP about the NCP, and I mean told things either directly or indirectly, are not sure how to act and have a difficult time being accepting and being completely open to the NCP. Also, it can be just as simple of a situation, as the child just not seing the NCP for extended period (2weeks) and having to change the child's attitude and reform into the child's normal behavior while with the NCP.

If PAS is not occuring (doubtful from what you wrote) and the child is having a difficult time adjusting to being with you, it could be the same type of situation that children experince when seeing/being with an old friend that they haven't seen in a while. Often children will be somewhat stand-offish when seeing an old friend but warms up quickly and quickly regains the old friendship.

I have discussed this issue of a child returning to the non-custodial parent for visitation, with many people at this site. Most people agree that most children experince, to some degree, a standoffish, a quiteness, a struggle, and a change when the child comes to the NCP for visitation. This change when my kids were younger often occured in the 1.75 car ride with me from the their mom's to my home. Usually the first hour was filled with short answer's to simple question's to the children. Question as to what they had been doing or how was school going ect.! And then by the time we got close to being at my home, the children and I were laughing and the children had completely changed from when I originally picked them up. Yes, my ex had attempted PAS on both of my children for years.

Good luck and I agree with other's, get a second opinion or engage/insert yourself into your child's current therapist. Also remember Therapist are/can be like attorney's. There can be some very good therapist out there and there can be some really terriable ones.