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How can I help my step daughter to cope up with her mother's imprisonment?

Q: I have an 8 year old step-daughter who is very troubled. Her mother has a drug problem and was recently put in jail. The child's mother told her the truth 3 weeks ago. My step-daughter has changed drastically after this. She has become a liar, makes up stories to hurt others, slams doors, stamps her feet and is very aggressive and hateful. She used to be very pleasant and kind to everyone but now she is out of control. What should I do as her step-mother? She lives with me and her father full time now. Her mother used to have joint custody and still does. But ever since she found a new boyfriend, she has left the child here with us. She has only seen her mother 3 days out of the last 43 days and she misses her. Her mother is set to be sentenced in 5 weeks and if she is put in prison, it will be unbearable for the child. How can I ensure that my step-daughter doesn't get depressed or uncontrollable? She loves her mother very much, but the truth is destroying her. She refuses to talk about it and has been caught numerous times lying for her mother to cover up the hard truth. Do I need to get my step-daughter evaluated for trauma and stress issues?

A:You definitely need to seek professional help for your step-daughter and family therapy for the entire family, including yourself and your husband and if possible the birth-mother. At the tender age of 8 years this child has seen unpleasantness, separation and drug abuse by her mother. She is bound to be traumatised and confused. As a step-parent, you can only provide unconditional support, warmth, acceptance and keep communication channels open. But continuous individual therapy for the child is strongly recommended.

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