Dave’s attempt affected our daughter Beth (11 last year) and it appeared to play out in her relationship with me and in her behavior at school.
Through Beth’s eyes I had betrayed her dad. She wanted to know why mom called the police on dad. Dave explained after he was released from a mandatory hospitalization that Mom had to do that to keep dad safe. That dad sometimes gets really sad and that the doctors in the hospital checked him out and made sure he was safe. That mom helped dad by calling the police.
But for months after Dave’s attempt Beth did not want to hold my hand or hug me. She wanted to sit by her dad. She was clearly still upset at me.
For Beth, 11 at the time, it was hard for me to separate what could have been normal tween behavior–wanting to be cool and independent and what were the effects of her dad’s attempt.
During the past school year (’11-’12) after the attempt, Beth went to the principal’s office a few time for problems with her behavior. By the second half of the school year she was asked to see the school counselor regularly and later recommended to also see an outside therapist. Beth knew that her parents went to couples therapy so she was very open and comfortable going to see a “talking doctor.” We didn’t tell the school counselor about her dad’s attempt but we did share it with her private therapist.
I tried to invite her to talk to me at home, but I was probably seen as part of the problem in her eyes, and not a safe person to talk to. Also developmentally it just might not be cool to talk to mom. Both the school counselor and her therapist were people she liked, felt comfortable with, and was able to freely talk about her social and home problems. Her private therapist slowly tapered her sessions and Beth’s last session was held just before Mother’s Day.
With help, Beth ended the school year on a positive note.