Six months ago, at a friend's cottage, my fiancé was assaulted.
Three people wandered over inebriated from a nearby party and attacked him.
When the police arrived, my fiancé was the one arrested.
At the first appearance, this was dismissed immediately and we’ve since filed a complaint.
This incident resulted in the opening of a child welfare investigation with my 11-year-old step-daughter, despite that she wasn’t present.
She was interviewed at her mother's home, which traumatized her. She’ll no longer speak to or see us.
My sweet, loving, affectionate step-daughter who’d always seen her dad as her hero, is now silent and cold.
We’re trying to enforce the message that we love her and understand that she’s upset by what happened.
My fiancé and his ex-wife have agreed that their daughter should attend counselling.
We miss her. What can we do to help her process her feelings and repair what’s been broken?
Hole in Our Hearts
Ask her mother to tell her that you two are also getting counselling (and do so) in order to get past the trauma of this incident on you both, as well as on her.
She needs to know it was a mistake that happened to her father, and reflects nothing wrong with or about her.
She needs to hear that getting counselling is helpful, not a sign of something bad.
Her handling of her emotion - fear, embarrassment and resentment - then depend on the counsellor’s skill in getting through to her.
Since she trusts her mother most now, it might be helpful if her mom attends a session with her… that’s something for her to ask the therapist to consider.
The girl’s return to comfort and trust with her dad and you might take some time. Be patient, don’t show anger or annoyance.
If handled well, time will heal the hurt on all sides.
My family takes advantage of me by contributing so little to gatherings I host.
My mother and her four siblings have an acrimonious history limiting family gatherings.
When I had children, I hoped to turn things around.
But my aunt contributes nothing to meals and gives no gifts. Yet she decides on the menu and takes away food for her always-absent son.
She also feuds with her siblings which starts arguments.
My uncle hasn't paid anything towards meals with me for two years. When he gifts, it doesn't cover the cost of his plate.
My successful, well-off cousin is always late. She used to be generous, but now also gifts less than covers her plate or nothing.
The easiest solution is to avoid them, but that would repeat the same bitter cycle. Also, in my culture, it’s taboo to criticize elders. Is there a way to elegantly handle this?
Fed Up with Family
“Gifting” generously beyond hosting costs is apparently another cultural tradition, but your elders have dropped that custom.
If these dinners are in your home, not at a reception hall for a bigger expensive event, decide what you can afford to cook and don’t expect these negative people to “pay for their plate.”
If you’re goal is trying to keep your family together, you don’t have to wait for major celebrations.
Try the “pot-luck” approach which happens in many cultures where everyone’s asked to bring something.
If they bring nothing, there’s less food for everyone. And it’s a clear signal that they just want a free meal, not family time.
If so, keep contact individually with those who are most important to you.
Reader’s Commentary “When I read the #MeToo stories you provided I was struck by the pain these older women still experienced so many years after the assault. I felt so angry for them and me.
“I remember the friendly dentist who left his arm resting across my immature teenage breasts as he checked my teeth.
“I remember being divorced and my ex husband raping me one night. His best friends were cops. Ashamed and afraid, I didn’t report it. I swallowed my anger.
“I remarried late in life to a good man who really doesn’t get it. He and his cronies seem to think #MeToo is about women wanting revenge or money or fame.
“I am a survivor. However, I’m still so angry that so many men don’t get it. I’m now 64 and hope my granddaughters never have to know this anger. Or shame. My daughter already does.”
Tip of the day:
Children distressed by shocking incidents need steadily supportive love bolstered by counselling.