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How do you deal with a child who is extremely attached to her father and doesn't want me to be with anyone else? She is only 4yrs. old and is having a really hard time with this separation. Do you think she is too young for counselling?
The school referred my son to therapy when he was in first grade, his mother left when he was 4 1/2. The psychiatrist was a young fellow in his residency at New York Hospital. As far as I know, all they did was play games ("establishing a relationship") and the shrink let JP cheat and win. In June the shrink moved on and in September I decided that JP had better things to do with his time than establish another short term relationship. I once asked him (he was about 9) if he thought it helped. "Nah.". When he was 19 he said, "Dad, it was you who made the difference."[sigh, and a tear for every happy thought, many of them].
The kid went everywhere with me and one night a friend was driving us home, I ducked into a deli to get milk and when I came out, the two of them (JP was about 6 or 7, my friend, 35) were sitting in the car crying. My buddy had said, "I was your age when my dad left and I thought that it was my fault." My son felt the same way.
And the truth is, he dealt with it better than I. One evening I picked him up at afterschool and he asked, "What if Mom just keeps drinking, until she dies?" John, only God sees the future, all we can do is pray. Two, three seconds, he says, "Do you want chinese or italian for dinner?" He didn't seem to cling to the pain and dwell in it like I did. Taking care of him left me little time, and no energy, for harassing 'them' like I thought they deserved.
It was the best thing that ever happened to me. We'd alternate leading bedtime prayers and after the routine ones we had a list of people we'd pray for. One night he changed the order of the list. Good, John, but we pray for our family first and then our friends. "Why?" Because we love our family more than our friends. "No! We love everyone just the same, right?" It was the best thing...and worth every bit of what it cost.
It's a raw deal, Kacey, and incredibly difficult, but you are the one, the anchor and the springboard for that little angel.
PS: I heard a lot of opinions about whether or not it was 'healthy' for me to let him sleep with me. We'd read, lights out, pray, I'd sing and rub his back, and if I did not fall asleep right after him, he'd come and find me in the middle of the night. He knew when he was ready to sleep alone, or rather, in his own room (@6) and he did, as natural as can be.