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Ask Eleanor, Family Counselor
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1517
Experience:  Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist & Professional Counselor with 15 years of clinical experience
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I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for three years,

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I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for three years, and we have been planning to move in together for the last year. We each have a 9-year-old child, and my son and his daughter have been friends this entire time. We finally decided on the place we wanted and put in our rental application, and later that night we were shocked to find that out kids were "exploring" together, sexually. We're completely devastated, and we have decided not to move in together, at least now. Both children have upcoming appointments with their counselors. I know that this sort of thing must have happened to other families in the past, but I am having a hard time finding any advice. We are in love, but we are wondering whether our relationship is essentially over, now. How could our kids ever live together or feel comfortable with one another? Any words of wisdom would be appreciated.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Ask Eleanor replied 1 year ago.

Ask Eleanor :

Hello, I am a Marriage and Family Therapist with 20 years of experience working with families, including many blended families, and am happy to help.

Ask Eleanor :

I understand how upsetting this is for you and your boyfriend, but I would caution you to not overreact.

Ask Eleanor :

I think you have handle it very well with your children and said all the right things to them. As you said each was seeing his/her counselor, I am assuming that they are already in counseling; and that is good. I do not at all think that the two of you should end your relationship because of what happened with your children.

Ask Eleanor :

As you said, some sexual exploration is normal and sometimes even happens with biological siblings. My recommendation would be that all 4 of you have a few sessions of family therapy to work through what happened and process all of your feelings. I would hold off moving in together until you have completed your family therapy. Your family therapist, seeing all 4 of you, will really be better able to assess the situation than their individual counselors. I feel confident that after completing your family therapy, you will all feel comfortable moving in together. You may go to www.TherapistLocator.net or www.psychologytoday.com to find family therapists where you live.

Ask Eleanor :

I know that what happened with your children feels like a huge obstacle to you relationship and you plans to move in together, but it is more than likely just a bump in the road. I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX have helped. Chat back if you have any questions. I wish you both and your children all the best, XXXXX XXXXX Eleanor

Ask Eleanor :

PS: Since you are not replying here in chat, I am going to switch my answer to the Q&A mode. You will still be able to ask me a follow-up question there.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you so much for your answer. I hope you're right. I hope that I haven't already overreacted -- I have been calm for the most part, but I did raise my voice to my son when he told me that he "forgot" that it's inappropriate to do these things. I yelled and told him that he'd better not forget this conversation because kids can end up in juvenile hall for these things! He started crying, and I felt so bad, I apologized for yelling and I held him and reminded him that he wasn't wrong for having those feelings -- I was just worried about him. My boyfriend and I asked him several times if anyone had ever engaged with him inappropriately before, and he told me he had been asked by kids in school but declined... I hope this is the case. He totally denies that he was ever sexually abused.

I would like to do family counseling, but neither my boyfriend nor I have health insurance, yet -- just the kids. My son already sees a counselor, and his daughter will be going for the first time, most likely to a different counselor. I have suggested that they go together, at least at some point.

I think both of us worry that, even with counseling, they will try it again when they are older because they have already been "down that road." We worry that it's too risky of a situation to put our children in :(

Expert:  Ask Eleanor replied 1 year ago.
Good to hear back from you. You may have overacted a bit, but that is very understandable and you handled it beautifully after your son started crying. I would not send the two children to therapy together, rather just let them see their individual counselors. I neglected to mentions that many family therapists will work with their clients to find an affordable fee if they cannot afford the full fee. I would also call you local United Way (usually the number is #211) and inquire if there are non-profit community counseling centers in your area. They offer excellent therapy and usually operate on a sliding scale fee based on income. I hope you will find a way to make it work as I feel it is the key to all of you feeling comfortable with one another again. You might ask their counselor(s) if they have any referral resources for family therapy. And actually, I have brought in the parents many times when working with children. For insurance purposes, the child(ren) would be the patient, but all of the family could be seen for a few sessions. I hope all of this makes sense. Let me know if you need anything further. Take care, Patricia
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you so much for all of the resources. I'm not sure our children's insurance will allow for us to participate in the sessions (they have Medicaid/Famis), but we will ask.

 

Two more questions: I'm worried that they will look back on this when they are older and feel ashamed -- do you think there is a good chance of that happening?

 

Also, do you think it would be a positive or a negative thing, if we did move in together, for them to regard each other as brother and sister?

Expert:  Ask Eleanor replied 1 year ago.
You are most welcome. I believe that you have handled this in such a way that will not leave them feeling shamed. Counseling will help a great deal with this as well, particularly family therapy. I think, as you do, that if you let what happened between the two children have a significant negative effect on your relationship, it is more likely that they will continue to feel guilty and ashamed. So I believe it is very important to get into therapy quickly and then go on with your plans to live together as a family. You do not want to get emotionally stuck in this one event as that will only make things get worse and worse. Get the help you need and move on. I truly believe it is going to be fine, take care, Eleanor
Ask Eleanor, Family Counselor
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1517
Experience: Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist & Professional Counselor with 15 years of clinical experience
Ask Eleanor and 2 other Parenting Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you so much. You've made me feel much more positive and in control. I've been through a lot, and I know it's never as bad as it seems, but this is definitely a new one for me.

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