My Kid Needs A Therapist

LucyI have a child who is anxious about a big transition coming up.

We’re moving to Nebraska where we’ll be installed in the Witness Protection Program as Amish farmers, in order to avoid swimming with the fishes for a mafia caper gone bad.

Or she’s changing schools. It’s one of those.

Anyhow, I really thought I was doing an excellent job of allaying her fears and stress about said transition until she woke up one morning and said, “Mommy, can I see a therapist about my fears?”

Two things popped into my head simultaneously.

The first was, what the fuck? You didn’t suddenly find out you’re adopted. Your dad isn’t having an affair with a Bavarian barmaid. I’m not divorcing your father to run off to Guadalajara with a mariachi with two gold front teeth. We don’t beat you, we don’t even make you do the dishes and you need a therapist?

My second thought was, Shannon, this has nothing to do with you and what kind of parent you are.

You aren’t failing. Your kid is smart enough to know she needs guidance from someone who isn’t her mother — who is too invested in the outcome — and she trusts you not to shame her.

So we’ve had two visits to a bright-eyed, plucky, lady therapist with fire-engine red hair who can turn a pithy phrase, and my elementary-school-age child feels much better about the transition and has a game plan for any awkward moments.

It took me until I was 27-years-old to realize I could use the help of a professional, but I’m grateful that discovery can now be helpful to my kids.

I think the times I parent best are the times when I’m willing to admit that I don’t have all the answers.

15 thoughts on “My Kid Needs A Therapist”

  1. I think it is awesome that your daughter realizes she is having some Issues, and that it not shameful to “see somebody” for a little help.

    If you break a bone, it’s not shameful to get help from an orthopedist – why not see somebody to get the mental train back on the track.

    1. Beverly I agree! Mental health is almost more important than any other kind of help. I feel fortunate we’ve found such a lovely woman. We went to her 8 or 9 years ago when my daughter was in pre-school because she was selectively mute, meaning she NEVER spoke at school, so when I picked her up she talked my ear off. The pre-school teachers thought she might be on the spectrum (I knew she wasn’t bc she told me, at age three, “Mommy, if you wash my hair you’ll traumatize me!” Gotta love that kid. So we went to this lovely lady three times and she gave Henry and I tools to help our daughter adjust to group situations. I feel so lucky we live in a time and place where there’s so much help and acceptance around parenting.

  2. Mmm, mafia capers. Great in chicken piccata!

    One of my kids has asked to talk to someone about anxiety. I have a lot of guilt I’m working through right now, because my twitchy little apple has not fallen far from the uptight tree. Still, I’m hopeful that my kid recognizes a situation that has a solution, or at least a way to manage it.

    1. Hi Anne — I feel a little bad about the mafia comment now that James Gandolfini is dead. In some way I feel it’s my fault, which is why I needed a therapist for such a long time. BIW, I’m sure the other twitch little apple has also inherited your rapier wit and excellent vocabulary/literary skills. xo

  3. Good for you for listening to your kid. Middle school is the WORST and she wants to be prepared. She’s no dummy.

    I’m also a major Tic Tac addict. I knew I loved you for a reason.

  4. Shelley Myers

    Middle School definitely has a lot of warts and they brought in a special counselor to our school this year. Parenting is a humbling, yet wonderful experience.

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