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Dr. L
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1166
Experience:  Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist
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I have adopted my grandkids all five.. same mom different dads.

Resolved Question:

I have adopted my grandkids all five.. same mom different dads. All three are violent offenders one in prison one lives about 2 miles from us but is still on parole. the third is sitting in the county jail on a parole violation for repeatedly contacting us.. The mom is the link she constantly sends pics and any information about the kids to the fathers. she is selling drugs which dad number one taught her to do.. we are thinking of moving and not having any contact with her... but the kids want to see her... I am not sure what to do.. everytime she sees them they act out and then all kinds of ramdom stuff happens like the contractors show up to do the roof when we didnt call,, phone rings off the hook. random people calling.. texts telling me exactly where I have been.. numbers have been changed but they get them.. what do i tell the kids why they cant see their mom I dont want them to hate us later.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. L replied 1 year ago.

Dr. L :

Good Morning!

Dr. L :

Oh my what a situation! I am so sorry this is happening to you...a loving grandmother who has made a courageous attempt to provide a stable, loving, and respectful home for your grandchildren.

Customer:

Yes we have and it would take hours to explain. We need to know how to deal with the fact that we are moving and their mom cant know our information

Dr. L :

These biological father's certainly present you with a challenge because of their unacceptable behaviors. The first thing I encourage you to do is to check with the courts about your rights to move the children. I am imagining that you had an attorney that helped you file for custody of these children...I would go back to that person to assist in determining those rights.

Customer:

We have adopted them and its final.. they have no rights.. but they wont leave us alone.. even with no contact orders

Dr. L :

What are the ages of the children?

Customer:

10,8,7,5,3

Dr. L :

Does mom have any rights or did she give those up as well?

Customer:

no they are our children we adopted them .. legally they are her sisters

Dr. L :

I would imagine that these children have been exposed to things like abandonment, neglect, and so forth.

Dr. L :

Wow! Very good that all rights were terminated.

Dr. L :

Then...my advice to you is to relocate. Please consider getting the older children in therapy so that they can deal with their past disruptive and "crazy-making" history.

Dr. L :

The 3 year old has not had as much exposure, the 5 year old is questionable.

Customer:

Ok.. what about not letting them have contact with their mom she is the one who encourages the fathers.. what will that do to the kids?

Dr. L :

Find a good child psychologist who has experience in this area.

Customer:

Three year old.. has always been with me

Dr. L :

No contact with mom at this point. Over time you can consider contact if she makes progress in her own life...meaning no drug use/sale, and so forth.

Dr. L :

Okay 3 year old is probably the best adjusted at this point.

Customer:

what do we tell the kids the reason is?

Dr. L :

On the one hand it is hard to say how the kids will react.

Dr. L :

They have been exposed to uncertainty in their life. To a disruptive home life. To instability of all kinds.

Dr. L :

What you tell the kids is that you have chosen to move to provide them with a stable home life and a new start.

Customer:

How do I determine what kind of experience a dr. has?

Dr. L :

You talk about all the positives...whether that is they will have a big yard to play in, terrific schools, individual bedrooms...

Dr. L :

I will get to the question about the psychologist in a second...

Customer:

Ok what do i say when they want to call their mom? I have told them she doesnt do her mommy job well.. but the eight year old is really missing her.

Dr. L :

I would try to get the children involved in decision making...paint choices for their bedrooms, furniture, bedspreads...etc.

Dr. L :

The more you can get them invested in those choices the more control they will feel they have over their environment. And likely they had little control when they were with mom...

Dr. L :

Do you understand my point here?

Customer:

ok i can see that..

Dr. L :

They have had been on a rollercoaster...correct?...and now you are wanting to provide them with a life of consistency and safety.

Dr. L :

Then...there is the issue of being very frank with them about their mom.

Dr. L :

Do any of the kids seem to understand how unstable she is and how difficult life has been with her?

Customer:

yes and me and their grandfather havent been much better.. I had to quit my job because the dad showed up to the school and I panicked and decided I had to drive them to and from school..

Dr. L :

I can understand your choice there...your goal is a "normal" life for the kids and when that felt jeopardized you ran with your gut. No apology needed here.

Customer:

the 10 year old knows ... she tries to be the one who makes her mom act right and tells her to do her job. but she wants her mom and I get that.. but she knows its not safe at her moms apartment so she tries to get her to visit here at our house but her mom wants no part of that.

Dr. L :

How sad.

Customer:

yes.. it is sad ... but they do well in school and top cheerleader of her squad and loves her dance class all the girls do activities and I make sure even though it kills me..lol

Dr. L :

This poor child is getting such a poor image of a mother! And that is the role that you and grandpa must fulfill...providing the children with good models of what it means to be a male and a female...a mother and a father.

Customer:

true.

Dr. L :

Yes...you and your husband have - and will continue to - make lots of courageous choices on behalf of the kids.

Dr. L :

And your life will be enriched for that sacrifice and devotion.

Customer:

So how do I find the right dr. for them?

Dr. L :

I think the hardest part of all of this is separating the kids from their mother. For the oldest child, I would encourage a series of heart to heart chats with her (short in time) where you lay out the realities.

Dr. L :

Please see this website: www.psychologytoday.com

Dr. L :

At the top of the page is an icon that says: Find a Therapist

Customer:

Ok I have done that alot she does know that I tell her the truth.. not all of it all the time.. but they had to go to court and she realized alot that day.

Dr. L :

click on that button. You will be asked to put in an address or zip code. A list of therapists will appear. On the left hand side of the screen you can indicate what specialty you are looking for. That's where you would want to indicate children.

Customer:

ok

Dr. L :

Also...when you move you will be finding a new pediatrician for the children. Ask for a referral from them as well. They may have someone on staff as well.

Customer:

Oh good idea... I will do that..

Dr. L :

Like everything...you will be buying a service. So you will want to meet this person in advance to see if you feel they understand the issues, will be accepted by the children, and that you feel comfortable with them.

Customer:

ok..

Dr. L :

I am glad the 10 year is becoming to understand the real issues here. She has been put in a very tough position as she - in some ways - is more mature and responsible than her mother. And, unfortunately, if she were to stay with her mother she would take on more and more parental duties. That would have had serious consequences for her own development.

Customer:

i worry about that

Dr. L :

That could be one of the things you tell her. That is, you are 10 years old. You deserve to have your childhood..to be able to dance...to play...to enjoy your life. You were starting to take care of Mom...that is not what a 10 year old should do. Grandpa and I want you to be free of that responsibility.

Dr. L :

You see where I am going there...

Customer:

Yes I understand that..

Dr. L :

Very simply....she would have become a little mother to her sibs and a caregiver to her mom. That is a very dangerous place for a little girl...she loses her own identity...takes on a role that she cannot fulfill...

Customer:

Oh I never thought of that..

Dr. L :

I would also encourage you to be very careful that she doesn't feel she is responsible for taking care of her sibs...she must feel free to be her own person.

Dr. L :

Yes...we call that "holes in roles"...meaning that you see there is a "hole" (in this case mom not being a parent) and you take over that "role"....

Customer:

We dont have her do any of that.. we do it all.. I told her school is her job.

Dr. L :

Very good grandma!!!!

Dr. L :

And being a kid is also her job.

Customer:

ok..

Dr. L :

Can we talk a minute about the 8 and 7 year olds. How are they doing?

Dr. L :

Do they feel a tight bond with mom? How do you think they will react?

Customer:

Well the eight year old is funny and she knows it.. but she really misses her mom alot the last few weeks , they havent seen her since christmas.. talked on the phone..

Customer:

the Seven year old is the one that I cant get... she and I do not click.. and she knows it.. I tried extra hard maybe to much.. She was the one that was a mommys girl

Dr. L :

okay

Dr. L :

So it sounds like the 8 year old has developed a sense of humor to combat the craziness in her life...but underneath that may be some sense of insecurity and likely emotional pain.

Customer:

Ok so what do I do?

Dr. L :

When you think the humor is inappropriate..meaning that she is hiding behind humor as a way to cover up for real pain...then I would gently point that out.

Customer:

ok

Dr. L :

For example, "Honey, that was a funny joke. I'm glad you know how to use humor. Were you really feeling sad/mad/upset/hurt? I am here for you. I love you and want to do all I can to make sure you feel safe."

Customer:

I will remember that..

Dr. L :

So here you accept the humor but ask the question to get at the real feeling. Kids are amazingly adaptive. While you want to encourage her "natural" humor...you do not want her to run away from her true feelings by hiding behind humor.

Customer:

No I dont.. she is a great kid and very talented with her gymnastics..

Dr. L :

Let me put it another way...the humor could at times be like a halloween mask. And..you want to know what is behind that mask. By helping her to tell the truth of her feelings...she will be able to stay connected to her real self.

Customer:

Ok

Dr. L :

I'm glad that you are able to see the unique talents of each child! Very good!

Dr. L :

Let's talk about the 7 year old...

Dr. L :

What is it about this child that does not "click" with you? Can you help me to understand that a bit better?

Dr. L :

Is she very protective of mom and she thinks you are keeping her from her mom?

Customer:

I dont really know she just never took to me.. like the other kids... When she was born she lived with us with her mom.. until she was about six months old.. Yes she thinks we keep her from her mom and that we are mean for that

Customer:

She is very sneaky and always is a little mean to her little sister..

Dr. L :

Okay...so this may be the most difficult relationship.

Customer:

yes definitly

Dr. L :

Here I would practice consistency...meaning that you keep pouring love into her and keep pouring love into her. You keep telling her how much she is loved and appreciated and wanted. That's the biggest issue...she needs to know that she is wanted. That's why she acts out with her younger sister...she doesn't feel emotionally safe.

Customer:

Ok ... that makes sense.

Dr. L :

Let me explain...she has been raised in a chaotic way. What she seems to know is her mother...even though her mother had issues and problems...this child bonded to her and feels loyal to her. So...you can say things like...I know you have trouble trusting me or loving me or wanting to be with me...But I very much love you and want to be with you.

Customer:

ok

Dr. L :

I will not go away. I will not abandon you. I will be here for you always.

Customer:

ok

Dr. L :

The other part is to respond to her feelings.

Dr. L :

She likely was not given the kind of attention to her feelings as she needed.

Dr. L :

Meaning...that when she was sad or frightened or unsure or disappointed...Mom did not give her the response she needed emotionally.

Dr. L :

So for example...she feel and hurt her leg. Mom might not have responded appropriately and instead said "stop your crying you whiny baby"

Dr. L :

Here she would have learn that it was not safe to express her feelings and instead she shut down.

Dr. L :

Does this make sense to you?

Dr. L :

I understand that this is a lot to think about. Please know that you can print a copy of our chat for later reference.

Customer:

probably..she is the third of five and the fourth was a premie.. yes.. because her mom cant stand to be loving like that..

Dr. L :

So what you need to do with the 7 year old is to pay very close attention to her feelings and to respond in an appropriate manner. Also...you need to encourage her to identify her feelings...to name them.

Customer:

I have actually heard her tell them to grow up and stop crying .. she was bleeding from a bike accident not bad but still.

Dr. L :

Yes...see here is a perfect example of mom ignoring the feelings...and what the child learns is: I can't feel or mom will be upset. Not good at all!!!

Customer:

ok... Thanks so much and yes.. i will get a good therapist and move..

Dr. L :

You might consider getting a "feeling" chart...it has pictures of all of the feelings and names them...you can use that to help teach the kids that feelings are okay.

Customer:

ok

Dr. L :

I also want to strongly encourage you to get the following book and to check out the website:

Dr. L :

Parenting with Love and Logic by Dr. Foster Cline and Jim Fay

Dr. L :

This is an excellent resource!

Dr. L :

see their website:

Dr. L :

www.loveandlogic.com

Dr. L :

Wonderful resource...lots of great parent tips.

Customer:

Thanks so much.

Dr. L :

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Dr. L :

Take care.

Customer:

Thanks..

Dr. L :

Please know that you can contact me any time if you have more questions. Just ask for me by name.

Dr. L :

You are very very welcome!

Customer:

ok

Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1166
Experience: Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist
Dr. L and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you

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