November 21, 2006

Helping Kids through Sexual Molestation and Other Trauma

(Another in Series of Letters from Concerned Parents (If you would like to submit a question for Mac to answer, please feel free to post your question at the bottom of the page!)

Dear Mac,

Hi, I have your Parenting with Dignity videos but I have a problem that your curriculum doesn't cover in detail. My son's father molested him when he was younger, and although my son and I are in counseling, are there any other suggestions you might have on ways to deal with such things as anger, comforting, feeling safe and issues of that nature.

Thank you,
Mom in Florida

Kids Dealing with Trauma Need LOVE

Dear Mom,

I would strongly suggest that you continue to seek counseling and that you make sure that the counselor is trained in this kind of trauma. I do not feel particularly qualified to offer advice on this issue of sexual molestation specifically, but I would encourage you to keep our "Ten Ways of Communicating Love" close at hand and use them daily.

Make a Plan to Express LOVE

I would suggest as strongly as I can that you lay out a plan of communicating your love to your son on a daily basis. Go to our handout in the Parent's Workbook and do the assignment that goes with lessons 5 & 6 in our curriculum. Your son needs you to do that for him! All kids need daily expressions of love but children who have been treated badly in any manner need to know that they are loved unconditionally more than most. Your son has been betrayed and he needs to be confirmed in the fact that he is loved.

Trauma Does NOT Need To Dominate His Thoughts

While your son has had a traumatic incident with his father, he is NOT doomed to let that be the dominant experience in his life. You must provide him with lots of experiences with the healthy and wonderful expressions of love to overcome this frightening event. To me, the problem with some counseling is that the process forces the traumatized person to relive... and relive... and relive the negative experience rather than focusing on building a lifetime of wonderful relationships and wonderful positive experiences.

Remember! The ideas in your son’s head will rule his world. If all he is ever helped to think about is the one negative experience – that terrible experience will rule his world. The flip-side of that is true also... if all he thinks about are the wonderful experiences he is having, daily, then those new experiences and ideas will rule his world instead of that one bad one!

I have met many people for whom this process of love overcoming trauma has worked miraculously. One of the amazing gifts we have all been given is that our minds can focus so completely on positive ideas that those wonderful ideas can force negative experiences completely into the background. We may never completely forget, but we certainly do not have to be consumed by traumatic experiences either. Your son can be taught to focus on all of his wonderful experiences by making sure that he has lots and lots of them!

An Act of Love Can Overcome a Terrible Trauma!

Just three days ago I was privileged to meet a young lady in Delaware who had been abused and deserted by her parents. All she could talk to me about was the wonderful life and guidance that had been provided to her by her foster parents. I have challenged her to write down a brief story of her life and send it to me. If she does, I will be sure to share her story with you in this column. As she stood there smiling at me, she was telling of how the love of her foster parents had overcome her early life of abuse and abandonment! Her life definitely was not dominated by her trauma of her early life! Listening to her story, I took great hope in knowing that the same could be true for children like your son! Golly, your son does not even have to go to a foster home to find someone to love him unconditionally... he has a Mom who loves him right there at home!

Good luck and keep letting your son know that you love him in every way that you can think of… DAILY!


Mac Bledsoe

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