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Norman M.
Norman M., Principal psychotherapist in private practice. Newspaper contributor, over 2000 satisfied clients on JA
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2568
Experience:  ADHP(NC), DEHP(NC), ECP, UKCP Registered.
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I need some advice on how to deal with my 16 yr old son, John.

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I need some advice on how to deal with my 16 yr old son, John. This morning, I found him sobbing and inconsolable in his bed. He barely slept after having a nightmare. He dreamed that his father (who died 12 yrs ago of a brain aneurysm) yelled at him, telling him he hates him and that John killed him. I was also in the nightmare yelling and saying that he does nothing right, he's useless and should die. The dream was so vivid he just couldn't shake it. He kept aying he misses Dad, he loves me and he doesn't want me to die. It took him almost 2 hrs to calm down and he finally fell asleep. I decided to stay home with him, because I am very concerned. This is the 2nd time in a week he has had a bad night related to his missing his father. The kind of behavior he described would be very much out of character for both of us. His father was a very loving, gentle and nurturing man who never, ever raised his voice. He and John were very close before he died.
Hello Peachesforever - thanks for visiting JA.

Sorry to hear what John has been going through. He obviously had a great love for his father, and indeed, misses him terribly.

I'd like to address this problem in two parts, really. First of all, the significance of the dream.. I personally do not hold with arcane dream interpretation and dream symbolism, but I do believe that dreams are a reflection of things that are going on in our lives at any given time. It probably goes without saying that the loss of a parent is about the worst thing that can happen to a child. When John's Dad died suddenly, John was just old enough to understand that the loss was final, but not old enough to understand that it was anormal, if awful part of life. That sort of terror, without a true understanding of what was happening is bound to have left him with a terrible hurt, and frankly, I am almost surprised that this is the first time something like this has happened.

At some level, John's mind is telling him that this has happened before, and guess what? - it could easily happen again (to Mom this time), with no warning.

Secondly.on a practical level, he needs your total reassurance that you DO admire him, and that he's the most important person in your world.

It would behelpful if you were to talk to him about how he feels about his Dad, and to encourage him to be open about it whenever he likes. TTell him how you feel about his father too. Praise his little (and big) successes.

If he gets a chance to talk about his fears, they will in all probability start to disappear.

Finally, try to find out gently if there is anything out of the ordinary going on in his life (at scool, in relationships and so on) that might be making him undervalued or insecure - there is a fair probability of this being the case - and if it is, try to help him to deal with these issues.

It doesn't sound to me that he needs any professional help at this stage, but if these episodes continue for tmore than a couple of weeks, or if his mood changes significantly, he might then need some outside assistance.

Best regards,
NormanM
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