How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Gina P Your Own Question
Gina P
Gina P, LCSW
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 175
Experience:  MSW, LCSW, PIP
Type Your Mental Health Question Here...
Gina P is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I have been taking care of a 10 year old boy since his mother

This answer was rated:

I have been taking care of a 10 year old boy since his mother died when he was four months old. He calls me mom and we have a very strong bond with each other. His father finds it difficult to accept me as his surrogate mother and sees me largely as his nanny. The father is 73 years old and he recently retired from a very high profile career job from the federal government. The father and I have very different perspectives on raising his son and this has caused confusion in the boy's mind. A part of me wants to leave the job because it has caused me a lot of tension and anxiety. How do we find the right counselor to help the three of us. What ar the ramification if I leave the job after 10 years ...I am particularly concerned how this will affect the boy the rest of his life. CJ


Thank you for using Just Answer. You are in a difficult situation. The ramifications to the child could be emotionally irreparable. I am sure he sees you not only as the surrogate mother, but as the only female caretaker he has known. Especially since you have cared for him since 4 months.

I am assuming since his father has retired, he plans to spend more time at home in a parenting role, and this is what is causing the conflict?

It will be very important for you and the child's father to work together on this to avoid conflict in front of the child. He must see you both as a team working together for his benefit. Although it sounds as if it is already causing some conflict for him.

You and the child's father should meet and discuss your varying values and ways you can combine these for the child's well being. You didn't say if the father is interested, but I hope so, for the child's well being.

If you are unable to do so on your own, I would seek counseling through a therapist with experience not just with family counseling, but with child counseling as well. Most family counselors are able to address parenting issues effectively, if both parties are willing to be somewhat flexible.

If you are not able to reach a consensus on how to raise the child, and the father's decisions stand, please think hard about leaving this child. But also, consider your own emotional health as well. You do not have to live with stress and anxiety over this, but would need to discover how to accept the situation as it is.

Please let me know if you have further questions. Gina

Gina P and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Dear Gina:

Thank you for your immediate response to my situation. I would like to continue corresponding with you as our situation unfolds. Perhaps you can help me by asking me specific questions so I can give you more information about us.

Thank you again for your valuable advice that we seek family counseling with someone who also is experienced with child counselling.

Can you give me some specific questions when I meet with the counselor to help me discern if he/she is the right one for us. Also, won't the counselor's gender influence his perspective? Should we find a couple to work with us to give us both the male/female perspective on our situation.

I look forward to hearing from you again.


Hi Cindee,

Thank you for responding. I will be more than happy to assist you. Please ask questions as they arise on your end. Therapeutically it will be best for you and your family if you direct most of your questions to the counselor, unless you need specific direction or support. If you include me in this process, it may triangulate the situation. Meaning your counselor may tell you something that is contradicted by me. A counselor who knows the entire situation and sees you face to face will know much more than I will.

Some questions you may want to ask would include: experience working with children and your particular situation, what ages of children do they usually work with, methods and treatment approach, specialties, training. Length of time, and rating/evaluation of whether things are improving, how you will be involved (individual, couple, family), what type of parenting skills do they practice and teach, and prognosis.

Most counselors are well trained to handle many different situations, regardless of gender. Specifics to gender is usually a personal choice of yours, and dependent upon who you feel most comfortable talking with.

Please let me know if you have further questions. Gina

Gina P and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Dear Gina:

I have an appointment tomorrow morning to at 10 am to see a male pschologist who was referred to Joseph's father by his school. His card says he does family and child therapy. Joseph's father has already had a few sessions with him (how many I don't know). I only discovered that this when I told Mr. R. (the father) that I was not willing to continue working for him as a part-time nanny. Only then was he willing for us to get counselling. So tomorrow will be my first session by myself with the psychologist.

My objective in this first session is to discern whether he is the right counselor for us by asking some the questions you suggested.

The problem as I see it is that Mr. R. has sown confusion into Joseph's mind as to who I am and the role I play in his life. Joseph sees me as his mom and Mr. R has not been able to accept the fact that I have evolved as his surrogate mother beyond being just the nanny.

He is not able to accept me as his partner in raising Joseph although I have been with them for ten years, because he says "we are not married to each other."

He does not see me as family because he says we are not related by blood although I have performed the functions of a wife and mother (except we have no physical relationship with each other... and I don't have any fantasies about having any with him either. He has a girlfriend, but says he has no I intention to get married.

Their relationship is another factor that is causing confusion and anxiety for Joseph. Joseph has complained to his father that he feels he spends more time with Ms. M. than with him. And Joseph has said that he does not ever want Ms. M to be his mother.

We are at a crossroads in our relationship as to whether we can continue and it depends on whether we can become authentic parenting partners to Joseph, given the reality of our relationship and whether the father will provide for and protect my relationship with his son.

If not, then what is the best way to handle the separation as this will be a traumatic transition specially for Joseph.

This evening, while we were doing homework, Joseph all of sudden broke into tears and told me he had a stomach ache--when I queried him about it, he said he has been feeling a lot of pressure about school, and his father making him do things he does not want to take dancing lessons. He is on the A team in basketball, and is learning the saxophone with the school band. He is struggling with the demands of fifth graade--book reports, math, projects, essays and says if I was not there to help him he would be failing.

Joseph goes to the bathroom a lot and says his stomach is bothering him and when he is nervous or anxious, he breaks out with red rashes on his face and all over his body. In the last two weeks he has been complaining about knee pain and his ears bothering him. I think all this physical complaints are symptomatic of his emotional confusion and fears about the future. He often talks about his father being old, and what would happen to him if his father dies and he would become an orphan.

This is all for now. I appreciate your insights--I am using you as the feminine perspective to counsel me so I can get the maximum benefit from the counseling that I will begin face-to-face tomorrow.


Hi, I would not anticipate separation yet. You will likely make yourself anxious and children can pick up on this. I would definitely address these concerns tomorrow with your counselor, and the child's father. It is fairly normal at his age to begin thinking about loved ones dying. He is developing a more abstract concept of his world rather than just concrete ideas. So, this may have nothing to do with what is currently happening.

As for the extra curricular activities, it is important for children to have some decision making in this, but as parents we also want to make sure they are well rounded as well, so unless the dancing lessons are harming him, of if he does not have extra time just to be a kid, I wouldn't worry too much about that.

Let the counselor you see tomorrow guide you as a family unit, and hopefully this will make everyone a little more secure and relaxed. I hope it goes well. Gina

Gina P and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you

Related Mental Health Questions