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Question
Posted by: Wren | 2008/09/22

young child of newly divorced father

Just-divorced couple with 2 children (boys 6yrs and 4 yrs). Joint custody - Mon &  Tues - mother, Wed &  Thurs - father  Fri, Sat, Sun - alternates with mother, then father. Mother had affair and boyfriend introduced to children immediately after divorce. Father found girlfriend week after divorce and introduced to children 3 days later. 6 year old now defecating in the garden, on the bathroom floor, on the passage floor, etc. - says " I couldn' t make it to the toilet" , although the stools are hard, not runny. What must happen? I am the concerned granny

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Our expert says:
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Obviously when either one of a divorced couple starts a lasting relationship the kids ought to know who the new partner is ; and I suppose even with a new friendship if they plan to see each other more than once or trivially, its polite to simply introduce them. But especially if this is happening soon after the divorce, it could make some kids feel more insecure, especially as they may hope their parents wil get backl together again and this may seem to them to make this unlikely. What the 6 year-old is showing may be what child psych's call Encopresis, defined as passing normally formed stools, but in inappropriate places and/or at inappropriate times, and its a sign of distress, and likely to come right if there is some help to relieve the anxieties at its base. Any chance of persuading the parents that this is a sign the kids are disturbed by these early developments, and to take them to see a child shrink or counsellor for some sessions to help smooth this out ?

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