Therapy: Flight or Fight?

I often wonder how helpful therapy is for my children at this point. In order for it to work, you have to be an active participant in the process. There’s no sense in trying to fake your way through it- there has to be an acknowledgement that you have issues that you need to resolve and you have to be willing to adapt to new processes and buy into them in order for life sustaining change to take place.

My oldest daughter realizes the work she’s done in therapy has been for the best. She’s more outgoing, more forgiving and more willing to talk about her feelings in the moment, rather than letting things bottle up to the point of exploding at people.

My youngest daughter- not so much. Being a patient guy, I watch her deflect, yawn, avoid eye contact with me and her therapist and claim she wasn’t listening or “I don’t know” through 80-90 % of the session, only getting to some headway in the final 5 minutes or so.

She doesn’t think there’s a problem with her attitude or how she goes through her day to day actions. She’s been a survivor. Having to grow up so quickly at a young age, I think she really believes she’s alone in the world. She admits that her perfect life would be just a mother and her- devoid of her older sister and me.

I think she really hopes that one day my wife and I will just say that this isn’t working for us anymore and that we will cancel therapy forever. We see so much potential when she’s in good space to become a fine, outstanding and polite young lady. Is it wrong of us to want her to come to terms with her past so that she can have healthy, sustainable and safe relationships as an adult?

I feel like if she’s having a difficult time interacting positively with me, what will it say about her boyfriend relationships in high school and beyond? Will she be able to make good choices about their intentions, or will she just think in the moment and not about the long term consequences of her decision-making?

We can only take this one day at a time. I’m going to make a concerted effort to spend one on one time with her at least a couple of times a week in activities that she enjoys. I know I’m safe and a good person- and I want her to see that we can have a trustful, loving father-daughter relationship.

Actions speak louder than words in this instance. She may want to run away, but when it comes to her emotional well being, I’m here to fight with her for the long haul. I’ll keep you posted on the progress through the next few weeks and months, probably even longer. We’ve been at this for 3 1/2 years with her and I know the investment is well worth it.


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