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Dr. L
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1153
Experience:  Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist
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My husband has worked overseas for several years .

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My husband has worked overseas for several years - almost seven. My 14-year-old daughter now has severe mood disorder, anxiety disorder and extreme anger toward me, supposedly for unfairly disciplining her. I wonder, though, if she was sexually abused by him at some point. There was an accusation of this in his past marriage/divorce, which he had told me about but I believed him when he said it was false. He was so convincing. Today when I spoke directly to him and told him some honest things when he was making light-- being cheerful and phoney-- of our situation with the daughter my daughter all of a sudden became much more friendly and respectful toward me. Go figure. Do you think she has been abused by her father? He has also always belittled me and placed us both at the same level in the family hierarchy. I do not work outside the home so it is a touchy situation as his income is our only one right now.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. L replied 11 months ago.

Dr. L : Hello,
Dr. L : I would like to help you with your question.
Dr. L : I can understand why you question your husband's behavior with what he revealed about his past and because of your daughter's psychological issues. However, I would need much more information to be able to offer any thoughts about the possibility of sexual abuse.
Dr. L : Have you ever asked your daughter directly about abuse? Do you think she would tell you the truth?
Dr. L : You wrote that your daughter has said that you unfairly discipline her...could you tell me more about this...give me an example or two please..
Dr. L : How has she acted out her anger?
Dr. L : How does your daughter feel about her father? Does she treat him poorly too?
Dr. L : Do you see your husband often? How does your daughter interact with him?
Dr. L : I see you are offline, when you come online I will be notified and we can chat.
Dr. L : Thank you.
Customer: When I asked each of my kids about anyone, even daddy, touching them in their private areas they both vehemently denied anyone ever has. That was just a routine thing I asked once or twice total when they were very young. The incident of unfair discipline is she says I came in the hosue angry and grabbed her and dragged her to the bathroom for a spanking for stickin her bottom out at me. This doesn't even ring true except that I did try to take her to the bathroom to spank her and talk to her privately at times. She also says I accuse her of taking things falsely, but she has been caught lying so many times about these things that it is like the boy who cried wolf. My daughter acts like she loves her dad when she is around him or talks to him on the phone. But does not try to be in contact herself. Many times she acts like she doesn't want to talk to him at all. She only has seen him 2-4 weeks out of a year for the past seven years except for last year. Last year she grew angry at me to the point where she assaulted me and I had to call the police. He then reluctantly came home, worked on a book he has been working on for over twenty years and did not look for a job for four months, then soon we ran out of money and it got stressful as I was try8ing to figure out how to move. We pulled her out of private school at the time, which was her lowest point in life and she now says she wanted to harm herself then. Her anger has expressed itself in continueous oppositional behavior off and on since she was two. She does not treat her dad poorly but is in therapy now at a day program after a week in inpatient. The has finally begun to admit negative feelings toward him some, but I don't know to what extent. The therapist recognized that my husband and daughter place me and the daughter at the same level in the family hierarchy. Now yesterday I spoke boldly and honestly to my husband about things and daughter immediately has warmed up to me and stopped the oppoositional behavior.
Dr. L : Hello,
Dr. L : Thank you for the additional information.
Dr. L : It would seem that your daughter's oppositional behavior and mental health issues have created a situation in which it is hard to discern what is true, what is false, what is misunderstanding. While taking her to the bathroom to spank her and talk to her may not appear harsh on your part, she seems to have taken this more seriously and feels treated poorly. Her perception is her perception and you are not going to be able to change that. The important piece here is for you to validate that you hear her and that you feel sorrow for her feelings. Let me explain further...a conversation about this would be:
Dr. L : I hear you say that my taking you to the bathroom to discipline you felt unreasonable and you are hurt by that. Is that right? I am sorry that you felt mistreated.
Dr. L : What you are doing with the above words is to acknowledge that you heard her feelings. There is no need to defend your discipline technique...to argue about whether it was the right or wrong discipline...or to apology for your technique. Rather...the point is to say I hear you...I hear your pain...I am sorry for your pain.
Dr. L : A possible explanation of why your daughter warmed up to you yesterday after talking to your husband, may be that you asserted yourself with him and that she was able to see you differently. By talking boldly and honestly you, in fact, stopped being lower in the hierarchy.
Dr. L : It is good that she is getting additional help.
Dr. L : Let me know what thoughts you have.
Dr. L : Thank you!
Customer: My husband was accused of child sexual abuse in prior marriage, but passed two lie detector tests. His parental rights were terminated as he did not show up in court. He had left the state at that time. Could this have bearing on our situation?
Customer: Thanks for you insights
Dr. L : It is curious that he failed to show up in court, particularly because he passed the lie detector tests and essentially there was no evidence to substantiate the accusations. Why he let his parental rights be terminated is sad. This makes me wonder if he ever dealt with the grief of losing his children and having been unfairly accused of a terrible act. the fact that he left the state suggests a desire to wash his hands of the entire situation. I wonder what motivated him to marry again and have more children.
Dr. L : So...to answer your question about those past experiences impacting your current situation my response is Yes. If he did not deal with his anger, guilt, sadness, grief over the past..then certainly that could be playing out today in his lifestyle choices and his parenting. You said that your daughter had only seen her father 2-4 weeks out of a year...that's not much parenting time. Then he came home after the assault incidence with your daughter and spent an extended period at home. With dad out of the home so much of her life...it would seem near impossible for her to form a bond with him. This may be a contributing factor to her oppositional behavior. And..since you are functioning as a single parent...the target for any unhappiness, stress, distress,etc. on your daughter's part would be directed at you..and only you.
Dr. L : It has likely been very difficult for your daughter to understand why dad is not living in the home. The most natural conclusion for children in these cases is that their bad behavior chased the parent away. Knowing that she has not been an easy child to parent...it would seem that it might be quite easy for her to conclude that she is the problem and that dad is unhappy with her. Having him back in the home after the assault incident might have also given her cause to see that she truly is a problem...so great a problem in fact that dad had to leave his job.
Dr. L : It would seem that part of the healing here for her and for you is that she comes to see her true role in the family and that she not be labelled or treated as the "problem". What she likely has been doing all these years is reacting to the instability in the family system.
Customer: Thank you. I think you have given me some new issues to think about.
Dr. L : Very good.
Dr. L : I appreciate the opportunity to have helped you.
Dr. L : Take care.
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1153
Experience: Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist
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