At my wit's end with depressed 6 year old - Mothering Forums

Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
#1 of 12 Old 02-15-2012, 11:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
~Nikki~'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 4,177
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

 

I will try my best to keep the background brief, but we're dealing with a split family situation with an absent father.  He moved out of country last year, and while he was gone he had little to no contact with his children.  About a month after he left, my son started stealing.  Little things, trinkets really, and nothing of value.  It was suggested to me that he may have begun stealing to fill the empty feeling after his father left.  My partner and I worked hard with him, giving him extra attention and natural consequences for the stealing (ie: making him return the items, however small, and apologizing) and the issue was quickly resolved.  

 

Aside from that, the only other symptom of his father's disappearance was the sudden inability to emotionally deal with anything.  I get it.  I do.  But it's incredibly difficult to deal with.  For example, if something doesn't work - like a toy or a game - he just crumbles.  "Welp, guess it doesn't work anymore", and then the waterworks start.  He never used to be like this.  He doesn't even try to fix whatever it is, or ask for help.  Just a total end-of-world reaction anytime anything goes wrong.

 

I have tried just hugging him, I have tried talking him through it, explaining logically that if he's having a problem with something, all he needs to do is ask for help.  I don't expect too much of him, I don't think.  I just wish I could get through to him.  He totally emotionally shuts down and shuts me out.  He won't even listen when I try to cheer him up.  It's like he wants to just mope, and sulk.  I don't think it's for attention, because he rejects any sort of attention this behavior attracts.  

 

Now his father has returned to the country, and took them recently for a weekend.  I braced myself for their return on the Sunday, because I know from experience that anytime they return, there are a few days of adjustment before they're back to themselves.  My daughter is fine.  My son...I just don't even know what to do.  He has spent most of the time in his room.  His father said he would call him and still has not called.  Told me that he would "be in touch", presumably to set up the next time to take them, though I have no idea.  My son has just shut down.  He hides in his room, under his blankets, clinging to this stupid broken watch my ex-husband gave him in this big dramatic show "to remember him" when he first left.

 

My daughter told me that her father made a big deal of taking my son alone into a room to have a talk with him, and my son - who has a memory of a goldfish - has no recollection of what was discussed.  So I really don't know if anything was said to trigger this, or if he just simply misses his dad. 

 

I just want to cry when he emotionally shuts me out and won't let me help him through this.  I don't know how to do it, I really don't.  He's only SIX.  I shouldn't have to tip-toe around him to keep from setting him off into another emotional roller coaster, or check on him to make sure he's not harming himself in any way.  He is six.  And it's not fair that he needs to be going through this, and I just wish I knew how to help him.

 

Any ideas?

~Nikki~ is offline  
#2 of 12 Old 02-15-2012, 07:35 PM
 
Linda on the move's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: basking in the sunshine
Posts: 10,632
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 61 Post(s)

Professional counseling.

 

One of my children went through a depression (different circumstances) and getting a professional involved was a life saver. Not only did she work directly with my DD in ways that were very helpful to her, the counselor also was able to make specific suggestions to me about what might help, wrote a letter to the school when we needed to get accommodations, etc.

 

In a custody situation, getting a counselor involved *might* be helpful in the future if the situation worsens and you end up feeling that limiting contact with dad is in your son's best interests.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

Linda on the move is online now  
#3 of 12 Old 02-16-2012, 05:39 AM
 
mtiger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 2,377
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

Definitely counseling.

mtiger is offline  
#4 of 12 Old 02-16-2012, 09:07 PM
 
montanamomof3's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Montana
Posts: 97
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

Definetly getting him into therapy will help.  My DS#1 has suffered from depression and anxiety since the age of 5, maybe sooner.  We also have a split family with a father who rarely keeps promises or visits.  But he has been in therapy weekly for the last 2 1/2yrs now.  It takes awhile, but once there is a trust built things will start to get better.  This last August, my son's pediatric psychologist put him on Prozac for his anxiety and it has actually done wonders for his depression as well.  (the doctors would not believe me that he was depressed)  I do not like the idea of him being on medication, but it has improved his daily living that it is so worth it.  Call your pediatrician and get him assessed first by them.  Be his advocate.  I really hope the best for you...it is a long, sad, and hard road to have to go down.  But there is a light at the end of the tunnel!  You might not be able to see it yet, but it is there.

montanamomof3 is offline  
#5 of 12 Old 02-18-2012, 08:30 AM
 
Holland73's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Urban Jungle on the Bay
Posts: 2,756
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)


Quote:
Originally Posted by montanamomof3 View Post

Definetly getting him into therapy will help.  My DS#1 has suffered from depression and anxiety since the age of 5, maybe sooner.  We also have a split family with a father who rarely keeps promises or visits.  But he has been in therapy weekly for the last 2 1/2yrs now.  It takes awhile, but once there is a trust built things will start to get better.  This last August, my son's pediatric psychologist put him on Prozac for his anxiety and it has actually done wonders for his depression as well.  (the doctors would not believe me that he was depressed)  I do not like the idea of him being on medication, but it has improved his daily living that it is so worth it.  Call your pediatrician and get him assessed first by them.  Be his advocate.  I really hope the best for you...it is a long, sad, and hard road to have to go down.  But there is a light at the end of the tunnel!  You might not be able to see it yet, but it is there.

 

Unfortunately, psychologists cannot prescribe meds, unless you live in New Mexico or Louisiana where they are starting to allow psychologists with advanced, specialized training to prescribe meds.  Oh, and certain federal employees and uniformed commissioned military officers who are licensed as a medical psychologist can prescribe in any states. 

 

Additionally, I strongly advise not going to a pediatrician for a mental health assessment.  Very rarely are pediatricians specifically trained in mental health issues (such as depression, ADHD, anxiety, etc) or psychotropic drugs, which I feel is an absolute necessity, especially when dealing with mental health issues in children and psychotropic drugs.  You sure wouldn't go to a psychiatrist for a sore throat and antibiotics, you'd go to the person specifically trained to deal with physical symptoms and ailments.   

 

OP:  Your poor, poor boy.  greensad.gif  Your ds definitely needs some help, this isn't something you or your ds can (or should) deal with alone.  Your ds definitely does not want to feel this way, but he also doesn't know how to "talk" about it.  At 6 years old, he "talks" through his actions and how/what he plays.  His behaviors are a unconscious waving flag for help.     

 

Therapy is definitely the first step, but you also need to do some self-care for yourself.  It is difficult supporting someone battling  emotional issues, so it is important to also be kind to yourself and give yourself a break. 

 

How is his behavior at school?  It is super important to keep your son's teacher abreast of what he is experiencing at home, because often the such behaviors will also cause significant problems for your ds in school.  His teacher might also be seeing symptoms at school that will be very important to know, such as withdrawing from friends, frequent trips to the bathroom, etc. 

 

If you cannot afford private therapy, you might also want to check in with his school to see if they have any school-based counselors your son can meet with.  If they don't have any, there is often a community mental health agency that will offer counseling on a sliding scale.   

 

My heart goes out to your entire family.  I work with many families dealing with depression and other emotional/mental issues.  It's heartbreaking, but there is a lot of hope when the family asks for help and starts to access the necessary resources to support everyone. 

 

 


 

 

Holland73 is offline  
#6 of 12 Old 02-18-2012, 01:49 PM
 
Linda on the move's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: basking in the sunshine
Posts: 10,632
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 61 Post(s)

I don't have anything against meds, but to me, they aren't a starting point. In some cities, there are some very cool non-med options, such as art therapy or play therapy.

 

The counselor my DD saw  wasn't qualified to prescribe meds, but she worked with someone who was and did referrals.  Because she got to know my DD and saw who she was doing week to week, she was a GREAT person for me to talk to about meds and when she would recommend going that route. I asked her what were her flags that she looked for before suggesting that kind of referral (and I like her answer).

 

For us, it was a heck of a lot easier to get into see someone with just a masters who specialized in kids my DD's age than it was to get into a someone who could write prescriptions and with the same sort of specializations.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

Linda on the move is online now  
#7 of 12 Old 02-18-2012, 05:28 PM
 
montanamomof3's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Montana
Posts: 97
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

I should clarify...

 

            My son sees a pediatric psychiatrist (sorry, i miss typed.)  We had to get a refferal from my pediatrician to get an appointment set up.  And before we went the route of medication, my son has been in weekly play therapy for 3 years (he started when he was 3yo)  and is now in occupational thereapy and behavioral therapy. 

 

There is hope out there.  I hope that you can find some help soon.

montanamomof3 is offline  
#8 of 12 Old 02-20-2012, 05:39 PM
 
Ravensong13's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Too far from the Ocean:(
Posts: 246
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

My own father moved out of the country when I was about 8 and it was devastating. My older sister wasn't really all that concerned, but it triggered a deep depression in me that I still deal with today. I remember my mother being supportive at first and then pretty much just getting angry at me and expecting me to just get over it. I still am waiting for my father to 'come home' and I think having less contact with him during my childhood would have been healthier. I'm not suggesting that's what you should do, but counseling and a lot of patience with him are key. I remember feeling unworthy and wondering why I wasn't enough for him to stay. That feeling bled over into everyday life and made small problems seem huge ( dropping an ice cream cone at a park made me feel like a failure). I don't know if he is experiencing the same feelings, but having a safe neutral space like a therapist to talk about it would help to get at the root of the issue.

hug2.gif Hugs to you and your son.


Mother to one Little Flower Childdust.gif 3/08 and one little squirmy boy babyf.gif 4/12 homebirth.jpg, Wife to fuzmalesling.gif,I am a Vegan Pagan. We familybed1.gifnovaxnocirc.gif mdcblog5.gif!

 

Ravensong13 is offline  
#9 of 12 Old 02-28-2012, 05:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
~Nikki~'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 4,177
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

Thank you so much for the responses.  I just realized there were some!  Failed subscription did not email me, haha.  What do you do.

 

I really appreciate all of the input.  I know that my work will offer free councelling for family members on a temporary basis, so I will look into that and see how it all works.  I would like to talk to the school...but honestly they don't even know the situation.  They think my partner is the kids' father, because their bio father has never once been to the school for anything.  They do not realize he exists.  I should talk to his teacher, though.  I don't hear of behavioral issues aside from regular little boy things (wiggling in his seat, talking out of turn, fidgeting), but maybe if I discuss it with the school, they will have recommendations or be able to provide councelling. I know that therapy can be very expensive (looked into it for myself when I was having a nervous breakdown after the divorce), and with an ex husband who does not pay child support, things are tight right now and it's really not in the budget.  I wish that this was something that would be automatically provided for children coping with divorce, because it really is so important.  I remember going through it as a child (my parents are also divorced) and it was helpful.

 

Since that first weekend that he took the kids, their father still has not called them or tried to contact them in any way.  He told me upon returning to the country that he planned to "do everything right", this time.  Um....  He told the kids when he dropped them off that Sunday that he would be calling them the next night.  How does he think this will affect his kids?  The constant broken promises.  I worry so much about what it's doing to them, and he just doesn't get it.

 

 

 

 

~Nikki~ is offline  
#10 of 12 Old 02-29-2012, 06:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
~Nikki~'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 4,177
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

Tonight, another set-back.  Or maybe a break-through?  My son came home again and moped and pouted and wouldn't talk to anyone, and then eventually got into a fight with his sister and asked if I would play a game with him.  We started playing dominos, which is a new game for us so I tried to explain the rules to him, at which point he flipped out and said he wasn't playing anymore, because I hate him, and because he's stupid.  He dissolved into tears and wouldn't let me hug him or console him in any way, and just went to his room and told me to go away.  I let him have his privacy and let him cry it out for awhile, and then brought him a hot chocolate as a peace offering, hoping that it'd break the ice enough that he would talk to me.  He did, and said - through sobs - that he was really upset that his father wasn't coming around or calling them.  So I pulled out my cell phone, and asked if he wanted to call his dad.  I never limit contact, but the kids had not shown interest in calling him up until this point, so I offered to dial for him.  My ex is living with his parents right now, and told me that that's where he could be reached, so I called there and handed my son the phone.  He patiently had a polite conversation with his grandfather, and then eagerly asked if his dad could be put on the phone.  

 

His dad wasn't there.  He has never been there.  Child dissolves into a mess of tears again and I take the phone.

 

I learn from my child's grandfather that 1) they have no idea where he is; 2) he has never lived there, nor was that ever the initial arrangement - I had been lied to by him yet again; 3) they have not heard from their son since he returned from out of country; 4) they are shocked that their son has had zero contact with his children.  He agreed to try and track down the kids' dad through some of his friends, and will try to get him to call his children.

 

So I went back to DS's room to find him in a puddle of tears. =/  But then we had a break-through.  DS has always held his father in high regard, putting him on some sort of hero's pedestal because, well, he's his dad.  Unfortunately, his dad will never meet his unrealistic expectations.  DS is now feeling and expressing anger about the situation, which he has not done before.  His sister has already gone through this - the anger stage - and it seems to have helped her.  So maybe this is a good thing, that my son is now expressing his feelings about the situation.  Could it be a break-through?

 

Ugh I just feel so bad for the little buggars. =P  They deserve so so much better than this, and it pains me so much to see them hurting.

~Nikki~ is offline  
#11 of 12 Old 02-29-2012, 09:45 PM
 
Mummoth's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: BC, Canada
Posts: 3,470
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)

That sounds like a breakthrough to me. As he figures out who his dad is, make sure he knows that he's a wonderful, lovable kid and you don't understand his dad's behaviour at all. I wouldn't push the dad to contact the kids, though. Keep being willing to help the kids reach out when they want to, but don't push the dad. The only way he's going to be a long term reliable part of their lives is if he wants it and makes it happen himself. When my kids email their birth dad, I try and frame it as just telling him how they're doing. They don't usually get a response, so it's better that they try not to hope for one.

 

Are you on reasonable terms with the dad's parents? Maybe the kids can go see them sometimes... I've been through a very rocky road with my ex's parents and it's still pretty tense at times, but even then I can see the value to the kids of knowing their dad's side of the family.

 

 


~Teresa, raising DS (Jan. 02) and DD1 (Jun. 04) and DD2 (Dec. 11) with DH.

Mummoth is online now  
#12 of 12 Old 03-01-2012, 06:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
~Nikki~'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 4,177
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

You're right.  Pushing the Dad would be futile, anyway.  I've had this talk a couple of times with him early on, trying to drill into him that his lack of contact has a major effect on the kids.  He has told me several times that he promises to "make an effort", but it always lasts well...as long as it takes him to finish the email saying he will "make an effort" I guess!  What gets me is that my ex has a father who was never there for him.  He had this mentality that it is the child's responsibility to maintain contact.  If they want to talk to the father, they will call.  It's not the father's responsibility.  My ex, quite obviously, hated his father's behavior, and when we were together, he would vent constantly about the damage his father did, and swore never to be like him.  It's uncanny how much he has ended up like his own father, and I wish he could open his eyes to it.

 

The kids have a fantastic relationship with their grandparents (ex's mother and step-father, who raised him), and spend a weekend with them usually once a month.  They make sure that the kids attend all of the big family functions, and that the kids are included when out-of-town cousins and family members are visiting.  I think they are pretty disappointed in their son's behavior, and did say that they would try and track him down.  But what makes me sad is that they seemed 100% surprised that he has had no contact with the kids.  I know that he plays it up to people that he is some kind of wonder-dad.  In fact, when he first left for the Dominican, people were asking him if he was taking the kids with him (!!!) because they were under the impression that the kids were always with him.  He saw his children 24 days, total, last year.  And we are supposed to have joint custody!  He is only a father when it is convenient, or when it will benefit him in some way.  When he is trying to date a new women with children, for example, he is suddenly a very present father.  But it never lasts.  I wish he would just make a decision on what he wants - kids, or no kids - because coming in and out of their lives like this is a real disruption for them, and it just doesn't seem healthy.

 

 

~Nikki~ is offline  
Reply

Tags
Blended Family Advice

Quick Reply
Message:
Drag and Drop File Upload
Drag files here to attach!
Upload Progress: 0
Options

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Mothering Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
If you do not want to register, fill this field only and the name will be used as user name for your post.
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Password:
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:

Log-in

Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off