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Does Abused Grandson Need Therapy?
Q: My grandson was abused my his step-dad and has since been removed from that situation. How crucial is it that he receive therapy? Can some children do okay after such an experience without therapy? My ex-daughter-in-law doesn't seem concerned.
A: Unfortunately, most kids who have been physically, sexually, or emotionally abused by family members do not receive professional counseling. Most of this abuse is never reported by these children and they move through their lives deeply affected by this trauma. They suffer greatly, experiencing symptoms such as: significantly diminished self-worth; an inability to maintain trusting, loving relationships; chronic depression; sexual promiscuity; and chronic anger.
Your ex-daughter-in-law should be concerned, regardless of whether her son is presently exhibiting troubling behavior. Of course, it's possible for kids to "do okay" after being the victims of parental abuse. But doing "okay" in these cases cannot be measured simply by watching the easily observable behavior of these kids. They are not and will not do "okay" in the deepest parts of their minds, hearts, and souls. All children who suffer such abuse deserve experienced professional help, along with the firm commitment to help them heal by their other family members. I hope that your ex-daughter-in-law can be persuaded to get your grandson the therapy that he definitely needs, but blaming her should not be part of this attempt to persuade her to help her little boy.
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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.