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Time for a Counselor? (long)

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  • Time for a Counselor? (long)

    Sorry this is so long...

    My husband and I have always had problems with my in-laws. They are very controlling and don't like me at all because I don’t submit to their “authority.” We live twenty minutes away from them and generally would only see them once a month, until about three months ago. My 3 year old was staying at their house for the weekend (first time with them). My husband and I didn’t think anything about it, she has stayed at my parents house many times (even for over a week) without any issues (it’s tough to have issues if you’re being treated like a princess).

    Anyway, when she stayed at my in-laws, I asked them to give her a bath on Friday night before she went to bed (she had been a little sick with allergies and it would make her feel better). They did not do this, I’m not sure when she received a bath, but when I gave her a bath the night we returned home she screamed through the entire thing because her private areas were so red and irritated from lack of hygiene. My in-laws also told me that she had been crying over the weekend several times for me and that she had soiled her pants and wet them several times (she has been fully potty trained since her 2nd birthday- this was not normal). My daughter was also very insistent that she not go over there again. She also came back saying things like “nobody wants me,” "do I make you happy," and getting very angry (not usual for her). I could not get her to give me any details. Needless to say, my husband and I decided to inquire about what went on.

    My in-laws got very defensive and really got into it with my husband (I don’t know what all was said, I wasn’t “allowed by them” to be involved in conversations). At some point they told my husband that she wouldn’t act like that if we spend more time with her. (We both work, but have done everything we can to ensure all her needs are met – she is securely attached). All of this ended with my in-laws stating that because of the “alleged allegations” they would not see my daughter without supervision (they think we believe she was sexually abused – this is not true, we think they did not take her emotional well being into consideration throughout the weekend). It is also all my fault, according to them, even though I have not said anything because I’m not allowed into conversations.

    My husband and I had decided that they would not see her at all until his parents agreed to some type of conflict resolution between the four of us. They have refused to do this, saying that the “counselors” they have spoken to have advised against it.

    This past weekend (three months later), my daughter expanded on why she thinks “they’re not nice” to another member of our family. Basically, once the additions of a three year old mind are removed, it really sounds like they shut her into a room for a while (don’t know if this was because she was in trouble or for nap or if a while means five minutes or two hours). Whatever it is, it has upset my daughter to the point that she will not see them and the only way to calm her from being outwardly upset when talking about them is to reassure her that I will not send her over there again unless she asks to go.

    At this point we’ve pretty much ruled out seeing them anymore. They know how we're raising her and have continually ignored requests to handle situations differently. My question is if any of you have any suggestions on how to handle this with her. I have explained to her that we do love her very much, etc, and have spent extra time cuddling and meeting her needs. However, when three months later there still seems to be some issue, is it time to take her to an AP friendly child counselor?

  • #2
    Wow what a tough situation, I'm sorry that you are all dealing with this. The first thing that comes to mind is a play therapist. Since your daughter is still having some issues I think she may find working with someone helpful. Of course at her age talking through the issues with a traditional counselor might be difficult.

    My son saw a play therapist for some severe anxiety issues and the methods that the therapist used were very inline with AP principles. Everything that they did centered on play. She had a little tent in her office and the first few appointments my son sat in the tent and she worked with him while he was inside the tent. They then moved on to working with toys in a sand table to work through his anxieties.

    He was five at the time and I went in for the first session then after that he'd go in with her for the first 45 minutes and I'd come in for the last 15 minutes to discuss his progress and ways to help at home. I was extremely comfortable not only with the therapist, herself, but with play therapy in general.

    If you're interested, here is a place to find a play therapist in your area: Association for Play Therapy.


    • #3
      Thanks, that's a great link. I may be over-readcting, but I'd definately err on the side of caution here.

      I appreciate the response.


      • #4
        Wow- that was a very sad story! How upsetting for your daughter! She sounds like she is trying to express what's going on in her. I agree with play therapy- if its done right it could really help her. I also think that you might want to have her evaluated for sexual abuse. I know that you said that you didn't think that was an issue- however given the reactions of the IL's and her continued fear... make me wonder just reading it.

        I think that you and DH are handling this very well- and you should be proud of yourselves for being so strong in the face of pain. Family knows what strings to pull don't they??


        • #5
          Wow that sounds like daughter has some pretty strong and likely valid feelings towards the inlaws. I'm a social worker and want to commend you on being verbal about what you expect from you in-laws and feel you have every right to say no she will not be around you without supervision, especially since they do not feel in necessary to follow your bounderies. They are very important. From what i gather from you post they do not include you in conversations and they only allow your husband to talk to them. i would suggest that you be included in all conversations with them if it conserns your daughter. That way it will avoid he said she said problems. I'm very conserned about the fact your daughter had trouble with wetting herself while there. Often times with the youth i've delt with that was a good indicator of trauma. I would definatly reccommend play therapy for your child to see what other feeling she experienced or is experiencing.

          Sorry about any spelling mistakes, my lo is squirming making it hard to type