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Question
Posted by: XGM | 2011/07/26

Visit or Not

My 4yr old son''s father had an accident back in May and is now in hospital. It''s believed that he cannot walk again. It''been a while since my son has seen or spoken to him. My son doesn''t know where his father is as I''m afraid to tell him. His father now wants the child to visit him in hospital.I''m very reluctant to do this as I do not know how he''ll handle it. My son is very quite and takes time to adapt to any situation. Am I wrong not to tell him or have him visit his dad? I think its best if I tell him frst before he can visit. Please help, My heart''s breaking for him as he''s developed a funny behaviour. He''s very angry and cannot express himself. I can only tell when I discipline him sometimes, he talks back and do things deliberately.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

As I'm sure you realize, the boy will have to find out what has happened to his father. And if you don't tell him, gently, and with you there to support and help him, it's likely someone else will say something about it, and he could be even more upset. Right now, he may wonder, as children often do, if his father is choosing not to see him, and maybe doesn't love him any more, and that maybe it's all his own fault. Or maybe your fault - that maybe you are keeping his father from him.
His "funny behaviour" may well be ways of showing his anger and worry at apparently being deserted.
Talk it over calmly with him, asking him if he has been wondering where his father is. Explain to him that unfortunately his dad has had an accident, and is not well. Explain that this has meant dad has to be in a hospital and is unable to come and visit his son. But that he still loves the boy very much, and has been asking about him.
Let this sink in, and see if he has any questions. YOu ca ell hij thet the acident has damaged his dad's legs, and that right now his dad can't walk, so he needs the help of the people in the hospital. Later you can tell him that you don't know, but that it is possible that dad may not be able to walk again, and that we will all have to find a different way to be a family.
See if you can arange after that, for him to visit his dad in hospital, checking with the hospital that dad wants this, and choosing a good day when dad is feeling at his best. Let the boy suggest something, a gift, or maybe a fresh shirt, or whatever, which you can help him to prepare, to take to show his dad - maybe, better, a drawing the boy can make of how much he loves his dad. This gives a useful focus to their meeting. The first meeting should probably be relatively short, so neither the boy or dad get too tired.
Afterwards, you can ask him how he feels about what has happened. Maybe you can explain that it makes you feel worried, and sad, and sometimes angry. This leaves it easier for him to admit that sometimes he feels that way, too.
These things are not for tellng just one time, but to start an ongoing discussion. At that young age, for instance, children don't have a good sense of time and may not understand how long this problem for his dad may last. But you will have opened the topic and he can come back later with new questions that arise for him

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1
Our users say:
Posted by: cybershrink | 2011/07/26

As I'm sure you realize, the boy will have to find out what has happened to his father. And if you don't tell him, gently, and with you there to support and help him, it's likely someone else will say something about it, and he could be even more upset. Right now, he may wonder, as children often do, if his father is choosing not to see him, and maybe doesn't love him any more, and that maybe it's all his own fault. Or maybe your fault - that maybe you are keeping his father from him.
His "funny behaviour" may well be ways of showing his anger and worry at apparently being deserted.
Talk it over calmly with him, asking him if he has been wondering where his father is. Explain to him that unfortunately his dad has had an accident, and is not well. Explain that this has meant dad has to be in a hospital and is unable to come and visit his son. But that he still loves the boy very much, and has been asking about him.
Let this sink in, and see if he has any questions. YOu ca ell hij thet the acident has damaged his dad's legs, and that right now his dad can't walk, so he needs the help of the people in the hospital. Later you can tell him that you don't know, but that it is possible that dad may not be able to walk again, and that we will all have to find a different way to be a family.
See if you can arange after that, for him to visit his dad in hospital, checking with the hospital that dad wants this, and choosing a good day when dad is feeling at his best. Let the boy suggest something, a gift, or maybe a fresh shirt, or whatever, which you can help him to prepare, to take to show his dad - maybe, better, a drawing the boy can make of how much he loves his dad. This gives a useful focus to their meeting. The first meeting should probably be relatively short, so neither the boy or dad get too tired.
Afterwards, you can ask him how he feels about what has happened. Maybe you can explain that it makes you feel worried, and sad, and sometimes angry. This leaves it easier for him to admit that sometimes he feels that way, too.
These things are not for tellng just one time, but to start an ongoing discussion. At that young age, for instance, children don't have a good sense of time and may not understand how long this problem for his dad may last. But you will have opened the topic and he can come back later with new questions that arise for him

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