I'm wondering what leads moms to seek counseling for their elementary-aged child? Or in the least a visit with the school counselor? I have growing concerns for my 1st grader, and I'm not sure when I should look for outside help.
His behavior has changed in the last few months- moody, withdrawn, not as talkative. Spacey. Me and DH have to remind him of things over and over and a lot of times I will say something directly to him and he won't hear me. He is super distracted, and gets really frantic and hyper playing by himself or with his toddler brother. As much as I dislike a lot of TV watching, he won't even watch cartoons anymore, and one of his only preferred activities is playing minecraft (I do not thin Minecraft is the issue in and of itself, I think it's an escape mechanism he is preferring). He used to be really into art, playing outside, goofing around, reading books (a lot), and now it's like pulling teeth to get him to do any of that. He paces around, won't engage well, has trouble "finding something to do".
Here is what has happened in that time period: His dad has a history of being abusive (mostly mentally and emotionally) to women. His live-in girlfriend of 3 1/2 years (like a mom to my kids) finally left him in May of 2013. It was really dramatic for the kids and DS was really torn up about it, but also kept it to himself a lot. His dad said a lot of untrue, mean things about his ex GF to DS, and I know it was confusing for him. they moved in June into a roommate situation in a partially finished basement and that situation did not go well. My other son has autism and a lot of behavioral needs/issues, and is also non verbal. The situation just caused a lot of tension. Ex started regularly attending a new church (he'd never been a regular church goer) that turns out is really small and I've heard it's kind of weird. They have no sunday school and so DS sits through the whole service and it's very serious. Then out of the blue, in November, Ex has a new GF. Then like a week later he's back with old GF! She begins going to new church with ex & bible study.Then in December right before xmas Ex moves into a new apartment without any warning- the kids were at my house- and so he "surprised" them by taking them to the new place, never to see the old place again. The new apartment, while better because there's no roommate, is a basement apartment with CONCRETE FLOORS. Last week, Ex eloped with GF at the courthouse, and new wife moved into the apartment, while boys were at my house, again "surprising" the kids. And me. I found out through fb before ex even told me. Ex has a very happy go lucky attitude about all of it, I don't think he understands how intense these situations are for children. The new church had a celebration for them after service on Sunday, I asked DS about it and he just shrugged his shoulders and said "I dunno. There was food and cake. That was about it."
I asked his teacher how he was doing lately and filled her in on some of the details (move, marriage) and She said his schoolwork has been good but that he has been really distracted/ spacey/ withdrawn. She is going to keep me updated. She also expressed concern over him not sharing with classmates about moving and his dad getting married because usually students can't keep stuff like that to themselves. (Also, at his conference at the end of November the teacher was surprised he lived half the time at his dad's, because he had never mentioned him! She said he always referred to our family in school activities and conversations.)
I have always tried to have non-leading conversations with DS about his dad and home life, because I don't want to get manipulated information from him or have him feel like I'm pressuring him. I always ask him if he wants to talk, and ask him how he feels about things. I never talk about his dad negatively in front of him, and I always have a good attitude at exchanges. Still I get the vibe that he is trying to be loyal or something, by not talking about home life. I'm not sure what to do, or how to open up more communication, or if it would be wise to seek help from someone else? Should I just try to be more comforting and talk more? I'm not sure what I should or shouldn't be doing in regards to talking about his life at dad's :(