My almost 13 year old step daughter's mother died in August from severe anorexia and mismanaged diabetes. She's in therapy and is able to talk about some feelings but is still having a lot of trouble expressing anything other than something like "happiness" at home. I have a lot of concerns about this. i'm a psychotherapist and am trying to work with her every few days, or so, on tuning in to what she's feeling inside herself. this isn't usually very fruitful. I've bought her an excellent guided journal - to help teens talk about the loss of someone very special to them. she doesn't like to do this, won't do it unless prompted, and then doesn't want to share what she's written - though we've seen it and it's always a very white washed, positive version of her mother and what happened. when i simply ask how she feels, she says "sad" but is smiling or doesn't seem sad. rarely - maybe 5 times since her moms death - she's cried, for about a minute or two.
I know part of it is that she'd really been losing her mom for a long time - emotionally never had her. she lived with her though, every other week until about a 1.5 yrs ago. her mom had been in and out of in-pt and residential treatment for the past year. then she fell into a coma and life support was removed.
I also know that this is just how she is. she's never shown many emotions, especially painful ones. her dad is also not good at this, and needless to say, her mom was even worse. both parents have taught her to show the happy emotions and not much else. and mom had no ability to respond to my sd's emotions. i'm trying to teach dad and get him to take the lead. around the time of the death, he cried openly many times in front of her. that seemed to help, but now that she's died and the crisis is past, he's back to business as usual and all of my attempts to get a daily moment of rememberence have fallen by the wayside, when left up to him to initiate. and she really follows his lead, not mine.
i'm worried that this will all build up and she'll end up a mess later on. but sometimes i start to believe what her mask looks like - she's fine. she's just taking her mother's death in stride. but that seems crazy - it was her mother! even though never her primary attachment, still her mother.
any ideas you have about how to help her through this are much appreciated. her therapist doesn't seem to be able to address how shut down she is, emotionally, at home. they're doing brainspotting and this seems helpful in being able to access some feelings.
and lastly, as a very secondary, but sill important, issue... her birthday is on Wednesday and she has said that all she wants is to get a second piercing (just above her first one, in her ear). I don't think this is appropriate. I do not want it for my daughter (who is 11 and already wants this too). i feel that they are perfect the way they are and if they want to do things like that it can happen when they're 18. it feels really not ok to me. but my husband thinks it's fine, "what's the big deal - it's not a lip or eyebrow"? i don't think it's fair to the girls to let one of them do it and not the other. my husband and i (who've been married for 4 years, together for 5), generally, each, have the last say on parenting when it comes to our own, bio-daughter, but in this case i think we must come to an agreement.
Thank you so much.