Child Being Traumatized

Updated on July 17, 2009
J.A. asks from Albany, NY
13 answers

My 2 and a half year old daughter recently started supervised visits with her father @ a local childrens agency. The visits are on Tuesdays from 6-7. The visits have only last 5 minutes because my daughter hysterically cries and verbalizes that she wants to leave. I am not allowed to be present during the visit because of an Order of Protection that I have against her father. Since we have started these visits about a month ago, I have noticed changes in my daughter. She has become more attached to me and screams whenever I leave the room. I recently was able to get her to start sleeping in her own room, but now she wakes up in the middle of the night screaming and crying for me. When I go in to comfort her, she clings to me until she falls back to sleep and when I try to put her back to bed, she wakes up and holds on even tighter. I am scheduled to return to family court next week and am curious if it would be possible to have the visits post poned until a later date when she is able to understand what is going on. This is clearly having an effect on her. I have expressed my concerns to her law guardian who is receptive to that ideal.

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So What Happened?

Hey all, thanks for the advice. The court case was actually dismissed because he failed to show up for court. My child no longer has to attend supervised visits at the local childrens agency.

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N.H.

answers from New York on

Hi J.,
I have commented to your other post. I am sorry you are still having problems, but they will be happening for a while if visits are court ordered.

Have you tried a special "mommy bear" or blanket, or picture in her pocket or purse? She should take this with her to visits, bedtime, everywhere.

Sorry to say, no matter how old you daughter is, she needs see her father, the judge says so and you can't change it. Some judges may be sympethetic to the effects its having on your daughter and possibly postpone visits for a couple months, at most, but I wouldn't expect much.
It may even backfire on you and they may say that she is no longer to be taken from the room, make her visits longer, more often, etc. Anthing can happen. We just hope it doesn't.

I would find out about changes to your order of protection. See if you can at least sit in the room, in the corner where your daughter can see you, while he tries to interact with her. Just so she knows your there. Since her visits are already supervised, with you there, he is supervised also. (and she may be more comfortable and this is about her, not you)

Find out if he has had ANY sort of parenting classes/training (past experience does not count). He needs to know how to talk to her and interact with her. Find out from your daughter's law guardian if that can be made part of the court order. I would want interaction to happen while visits are still supervised, so they can see how he handles/talks/plays/has patience with her.

You need to do whatever you can to get your daughter to be able to see her father. This is important. Think about this, I know, no parent ever wants to, but think on it: If something should happen to you, where would she go? Any court would send her to her father before anyone else, even grandparents. He is the first in line for custody. So with that, as ugly as it is, wouldn't you want her to be able to adjust in some way, at least know him enough to be comfortable with sitting in a room with him, without being upset?

I am so sorry about that, but it is a very ugly truth that every mother has to face. I hate it that I don't trust my kids' with their fathers. (I have 4 kids, each with a different father).I don't like them and don't think they have their (the kids') best interests in mind at all, ever. And they know nothing about discipline/parenting/sacrifice. But the kids have to know their fathers.(my oldest didn't meet her father until she was 9 1/2 yo, his choice and I kept it out of court, so I could control visits).

I only have 1 court order and he is the only father I trust out of 4. That is sad and very disturbing. It was also very disturbing to find out that if anything were to happen to me, even with a will, my children would be seperated and sent to their own fathers. There is nothing I can do to stop it, even listing my parents as guardians.

Unfortunately, you will see changes in your daughter. This will happen with every big change in her life. The only thing you can really do is be there for her and do what you can to support her.

Find ways to make her more comfortable. Even if it means talking nice about her father (ugh), pretending to be excited about seeing him, have her make a card for him, have a picture of him in her room, something from him for her - keep it with her (teddy bear, doll), you need to get her to look forward to these visits and not be scared by them. You need to do this for her! Put our own disbutes aside and do whatever you can to make your daughter ok with this. Unfortunately, you cannot stop this, so you have to make it better for her. This is your job as a mother! : )

I'm sorry if that sounded mean, but its honest. I'm not trying to be mean, but I went through it with my kids. I never talked badly about the fathers, but the kids were at ages where they could adjust better.

I wish you the best of luck in postponing the inevitable and I hope it works well for you, but for it to work better for your daughter, it's going to take a very positive attitude from you towards her father.

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N.D.

answers from New York on

See if you can talk to the person supervising the visits and get your daughter to interact with her/him. Thus way she is in the room with someone she knows and is more comfortable with. The law will side with the father unless he has harmed her in some way. So you need to make the best of it and encourage your baby to have fun with him.

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J.F.

answers from Buffalo on

i haven't read every response but just wanted to add my imput.
instead of postponing visits, maybe they need to be more often? She needs to get more comfortable with her father, that won't happen if she never sees him. I'm not surprised at all that going away from mom to a strange place with a man she doesn't know well gets her upset. I would be too!!! It sounds like this poor child has had many changes in her life - hard for anyone to deal with, but especially since she's so young and doesn't understand! i wouldn't blame all her behaviors on her father unless the supervisor of the visits gives you reason too! broken families are hard on children.

I like the suggestion of the visits somewhere more fun or more familiar/comfortable to her like a playground.

I also love the idea of you sending her with a "comfort" item - something from you so that she can remember you while she's there - a stuffed animal or blanket or something she would like.

The law guardian in my husband's custody case told us something that makes sense - children pick up on parents way more than you realize. If you're tense or act like you don't want them to go, even unintentionally, they'll act like they dont want to go - children want to make their parents happy. plus her father's probably nervous anticipating the worst now after these visits that haven't gone well - she probably senses his tension.

You don't say much detail as to why his visits are supervised instead of unsupervised - but as long as he's not abusive to your daughter (and the person there for supervision should be able to give you an idea about that!), i see no reason to stop her visits with her father. I know how hard it is to "share" a child - sometimes lots of jealousy, sadness and worry involved when they're with the other parent. But the bottom line is he's her parent too... she needs him now and she'll need him more in the future.

*** I was reading responses on another question and came across this and thought of your situation:
"Maybe your daughter might look forward to visits if she was more involved like making a picture for her dad or learning a song she could sing him. Maybe supplying a treat that will be shared once they get to dad's house."
Just thought it was a nice idea to make it a more positive experience :)

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E.F.

answers from New York on

Visitation is always a very difficult situation especially considering the history between you and her father. I know others have mentioned that it might help for your daughter to see a therapist. There are wonderful therapist who do play therapy which might help you figure out what is going on with your daughter (at the least reduce her anxiety). Have you had any counseling? It sounds like you have done a wonderful job getting away from a bad relationship but healing takes a long time. I have worked with many women in your situation and getting out of the visitation is almost impossible. I would just try to help you and your daughter cope with the stress that the visitation brings to both of you.

Good luck and keep up the great work of taking care of you and your daughter.

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A.H.

answers from New York on

I think it is a good idea to postpone the visits if you can, but also, when they do start up again, be very mindful that how you react to the visits is how your daughter is going to react too. If you seem stressed or nervous when you take her, then she is automatically going to be stressed, nervous, and scared. Try to act as casual and happy as possible when you take her. Talk about what games she can play with daddy, dress her up in a special outfit, maybe bring a favorite book or toy she can share with daddy, etc. Make it something special that she looks forward to. No matter what that man did in the past, he is her daddy and it is super important that they have a relationship. Good luck!

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M.G.

answers from New York on

Hi J.,

Something is WRONG here! If she is being supervised, why doesn't the supervised person in charge KNOW what is going on? ALWAYS STAND BEHIND YOUR KIDS..LISTEN to her! He is threatening to her in some way...keep her away!
He must have abused her if not now-before you were separated! Trust me..my X is in JAIL FOR Sexual Asault and Abuse our girls for 9 years and he only got 2 counts when he should have gotten 97! I did not know of this for the Full 9 years he was sexually abusing my twins-his daughters. Now years later the truth came out and we with the State of NH Prosecuted him and now he is serving time for this. Children are the innocent souls! Stand by her and protect her! NOW!Or you will NEVER FORGIVE YOURSELF! I did not know therefore it is even harder for me to forgive myself-I always think I should have known!! You know-do not ignore this or you will lose her and so will she lose herself! That is a crime! SO get to the bottom of this. The supevisor may be in on it too. Why are you leaving him in the first place? Huh? Go on your gut feelings and know that this is real and too real to want to believe. It can also stop the cycle, but it must stop with the strong Moms who really care and love their children! Do not trust anyone but yourself and her.
Good Luck and I pray for her and you too through all of this. It ain't pretty, but must be stopped now!
M. G call me anytime leave message and I will call you back! ###-###-####.

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M.K.

answers from New York on

Dear Mom,

I suspect postponing her getting to actually know her father will work adversely.

Just because he is abusive to you doesn't mean he will be so to his daughter.

You need to encourage her relationship with her father,
give him a chance.

I think that your stress over the situation is causing undue stress on your child.

It might be in her best interest to be dropped off to see her daddy, by a person other than yourself.

Like a good friend, who is not directly involved in the situation and can remain impartial.

It surprises me that your childs Atty would agree to suggest postponement because to a judge this will NOT look good, I would look like you are trying to sabbotage your childs relationship with her father.

I the courts felt postponement was in her best interest then the court appointed visitation supervisor would suggest it.

Perhaps you could suggest that her father takes Parenting classes instead, this would certainly benefit your daughter and help him to be a better father to her.

M

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S.C.

answers from New York on

Good luck with this! I hope not but I think they will aske the judge and he/she will decide what is best for the child. Don't be surprised if they say that every child acts this way at the beginning of a change but eventually she will get use to it. I had a similar thing happen to me and my son who is now 20 and he was 3 when we started visitation because now that he had to pay now he wanted to be a part of the childs life needless to say when my son was 7 he released parental rights to my husband because the child was difficult. My husband legally adopted my son shortly after a battle with DCF a 22 year girl who said that we brain washed our kid we had to hire an attorney to represent my son who clearly did not want to be with his father. My son is 19 and still feels the same way and remembers alot of what happen during those times. I hope it works out for you and your daughter but what the court told me was it did not matter how long the father was away, it was best for the child to know him. Yeah whatever! Just love your daughter as much as you can and make sure those visits stay supervised for a while! Good Luck.

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G.A.

answers from New York on

I spent many years doing foster care and family visits were mandated "always" Although I truly feel for you and your daughters anxiety I also know that the courts feel the bio parent has a "right" to see and visit with the child even if it's for moments. Since we're not in your dauthters head we cannot know if the anxiety is from not wanting to see him or not wanting him to go away and fearing you'll leave as well. Trust your law team and also seek out the "lawers for children" in your state who totally have the childs interests at stake and not the parents, they usually are court funded and free to you. Best wishes and please keep me posted.

D.D.

answers from New York on

At that age kids tend to be attached to one parent or the other. In your case I think it's a combination of your daughter being attached to you plus picking up on the tension of your situation. Add in the fact that she is being separated from you, going to a strange place and being left with a stranger and her dad in a room she's not use to being in. If the visitation were being done somewhere she was comfortable with she might be more open and relaxed.

It's too bad the visitations can happen at a park or playground somewhere that they could interact where your daughter could have fun.

Unless you think your daughter could be injured or taken by her father I'd suggest thinking of ways to make the visits more fun for your daughter instead of concentrating on how to stop them to cut her father out of her life physically while keeping him there financially.

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J.S.

answers from New York on

Hi J.,

Is there counseling available for your daughter? I have two girls 6 & 4 that I'm starting to have counseling for. There are child counselors out there who can interact with the kids in a way that will help them cope with what's going on at home.

It's rough when your child doesn't fully understand the situation. I've made sure to let my girls know that I am always there for them and that they are loved at all times (even by their father).

Kudos to you for being a good Mom! Best of luck to you and your daughter!

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N.B.

answers from Jamestown on

Like I told you before...petition the court to be present at these visits.

Since you are going back to court, have the Director of the visitation agency either write a letter/statement regarding the outcomes of these visits..or have the person at the agency attend the hearing and testify on your behalf.

The agency I am going through no longer sits in on the visits, but has video surveillance now. This week at our visit, there was no one watching the visit. Good thing I was there.

Good luck and keep me posted.
Nanc

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K.H.

answers from Utica on

Hi J.
I am so sorry for your situation.
I pray now for your daughter's protection.
My question is "who is with your daughter at these visits?"
Postponed would be great but rarely happens; a 2nd thought in case it doesn't work would be to have someone she likes with her. You don't say who is supervising. You don't say whether you can take the order of protection off, or whether you tried to put one on your daughter as well, or why there is an order of protection. If she doesn't need one, then that is great. It is good for kids to have a relationship with their father, if all is well. Has anyone suggested counseling? so you can know the real problem.
Check to see if this is so; although you don't need more to worry about, until something happens the supervising person, unless it is your mother, sister, brother is there to catch him. They can't catch him til he does something and it is by then too late to protect your daughter. It is a catch 22 position to be in. As a preschool teacher, I was told by social service "you should have let him hit his son then we could have done something." You see it was not a crime to yell, and clench a fist over the boy's head, only when he hit. Well, I said I would never let a child be hurt if I could prevent it. Not on my watch so to speak. I pray that you have someone who will protect her. Don't let them tell you she won't remember. I have a foster daughter who looked me up, calls me "mom", and I hear often, but she left here when she was not quite 3. After a long court battle, she was given to her dad by the courts. Dad had a few long relationships, and let her visit her real mom, but I am the one she called/calls "mom" forever.
God bless you and give you wisdom
K., old with lots of experiences, married 38 years -- adult children -- 38,33,&twins 19

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