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Daughter Wants to See Therapist

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: My 15-year-old daughter has asked to go to therapy. We have had a lot of things going on in our home for the past 5 years and we are just starting to realize how much everything affected her. Our son went through a teenage pregnancy with his girlfriend. He moved out, then back in with his 3-year-old child. My mother passed away and my father moved in. Somewhere along the way our daughter feels she got lost in all the jumble.

We are by no means a dysfunctional family. We care about one another and always try to help each other. My daughter feels hurt, forgotten, and not wanted. Her grades are suffering. I want to help her but sometimes I don't know what to do for her.

A: Consider your daughter's request for therapy and your ongoing support of her to be a very positive response to her feeling emotionally hurt and not wanted. You did not fail her for the past five years. You did the best you knew how under very trying family circumstances. Now she has an opportunity to receive the professional therapy, family support, and compassion that she so desperately wants.

Your daughter's well-being should be your priority now and you should not view her therapy as anything but a chance to help her become the optimistic, appreciated, loved, and confident girl she deserves to be. Her therapy is not about blaming you for being bad parents. No talented therapist would encourage this as a goal of therapy. The therapist may ask you to attend a few sessions with or without your daughter. I know that you will cooperate in whatever way you can. Her failing grades are a reflection of her accumulated hurt and despair. I am sure that she feels like a failure and her grades are confirming that feeling.

You have the chance to help your daughter heal individually and perhaps for you all to heal as a family. Show her love, support, and encouragement and let her know that you will never desert her as she embarks on her courageous journey back to being the girl and the daughter she needs to be.

It's also important for you to get all the support that you need too, from family and friends. Even deep hurts can heal and children who have felt lost in their own family can be found again. Take heart, summon your courage, and let the healing begin.

More on: Expert Advice

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.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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