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When to Utilize Professional Counseling

Question:

My 12-year-old grandson has come to live with me. He has a deadbeat dad, and his mother committed suicide last year. Both of his parents had drug issues. This child is angry and resentful. He says he hates his life and hates people. He is disrespectful and rebellious. He says that if I put him in counseling, he will be worse. He is academically behind, and I am concerned that when he goes to school in August I will have more problems.

Answer:

This information is included in our Guide to Harmful Behaviors. Click here to see the rest of the guide.

Thanks for contacting us about this situation with your grandson. Raising grandchildren presents a different level of parenting and can easily become overwhelming. There are support groups for grandparents who need some support with this difficult task.

One thing we recommend is to use the wisdom you have gained over the years to guide the decisions you make with this young man. Recognize his behaviors for what they are, and respond in a way that will benefit both of you in the long run.

He has had a number of experiences in his short life that could be considered traumatic with long-lasting effects. Living with parents who used drugs or alcohol put him in an unpredictable and inconsistent environment. To a child, that is “unsafe.”

Then, having his mother take her own life could have caused many emotions and distorted thoughts in his mind, such as “she deserted me,” “she didn’t love me enough to stay here and raise me,” or “if I had only behaved a certain way, perhaps she would not have felt like life was so unbearable.” He may even have had the thought that, his parents were more concerned about their drugs than about him, and now he is the one who has to suffer for it. He may feel like now he has to live somewhere that he doesn’t want to be with people he doesn’t want to live with, and he’s MAD!

The point is, he needs counseling to help prevent these distorted thoughts, behaviors and feelings from disrupting his growth and development into a happy and successful young man. What he said to you about counseling is a threat and attempt at manipulation. If he can avoid counseling, then you will see more threats and manipulation because he was reinforced by getting what he wanted. The message he needs to hear from you is that it is not an option.

When school begins, meet with your grandson’s school counselor and make sure there is a plan in place to help him experience some academic success and catch up on his studies so he can graduate on time with others his same age.

By making the decision to put him into counseling, you will demonstrate that you are making decisions based on what you know is best for both of you in the long run.

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