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Inquirer Daily News

Child rearing, family relations

POSTED: Monday, July 23, 2012, 6:41 PM
POSTED: Thursday, October 15, 2009, 3:55 PM
Hi
Only read part of the article question from Trish about her son completing suicide and about some of her feelings, thoughts, actions to date. My heart goes out to her and i am so sorry that she is part of this fratermity where just try to live as "normally" as possible in a now very abnormal world. While there are differences in the way our precious children died and each person's grief is uniquely theirs, there are some things that we may well have in common.
Please reassure Trish, that I left Bruce's room the same way for many many yrs and only dusted surfaces. When I was able to, I took pictures of every inch of his room and then very slowly dissassembled his room. In a trunk are the sheets he slept on that I never washed. In my closet was the last towel he used...never washed. I carry a shirt he wore (it had his sent - like some of his sweaters) with me on every trip. All that she is doing, feeling,sensing is so very "normal." While it may not be for everyone, I am so happy you suggested Comp Friends. Paul and I were members for several years. It may not be for everyone and each at their own point may move away from the meetings for whatever their personal reason may be. Same for therapy. I was receptive; Paul and Marshall were not. I shopped very hard until I found someone who could work with the excruciating pain and the type of pain that is fortunately alien to more people than not. Acceptance of and respect for our different ways of grieving is of paramount importance as it takes it many shapes and forms. My belief becomes stronger, especially when a young sibling dies, that the siblings are the "lost grievers." People ask parents, grandparents etc how they are doing; oft times the surviving sibling(s) are left out of the verbal compassion and personal contact that is desparately needed. I am very sensitive to these siblings and when people ask me "what can I do/say to relatives and friends, I never fail to mention reaching out to the siblings whose loss/guilt/aloneness now abnormal world is just as profound as for parents.
I wish Trish and her family Gentle Moments and my hope is that they listen to their own internal drummer as they try to take steps forward. It does not get better; it just gets different.
POSTED: Wednesday, October 7, 2009, 8:43 PM

Dear Dan,
Recently our beloved son Kenny, just 19, ended his three-year struggle with depression by taking his life.
Despite the fact that it's been almost half a year, I think of him constantly. Memories of him flood my mind all day long, especially when songs come on the radio. I still cry because the music gets me. I think to myself, Kenny liked this song.
We go out to a restaurant and see something on the menu and I think Kenny would have liked this. We all do this, including my husband and my daughter.

I drive through town and see things that remind me of him. I go into his room and it still smells of him. I have the last outfit he wore and I haven’t washed his sheets. I go in there because it makes me feel sad and happy at the same time. It makes me feel close to him.

Can you please tell me if the pain will lessen? When does it stop, and when does it get easier? When is it ok to let go?

POSTED: Friday, October 2, 2009, 3:44 PM

Hi Dan,

 

Thanks for listening to me. I have a 20 yr old adopted son whom from age 4 has been diagnosed as ADD, OCD, bipolar, impulsive, angry, paranoid, mood disorder, etc., and recently diagnosed as border line personality, soon to be called emotional regulation. He gets into raging cycles that he can't get out of. He has probably been to ten therapists and had fifteen different medications over the years and he is still not under control. When he does take his medications, he takes them sporadically. He cancels doctors' appointments frequently.

POSTED: Thursday, October 1, 2009, 4:57 PM
Dear Dr. Gottlieb,I read your column regularly in the Philadelphia Inquirer and often the topic involves depression as it did today.(I also suffer from S.A.D. by the way but in Febrtuary)  As often as depression is discussed in the media, I rarely hear anyone talk about how men can have extremely different symptoms of depression than women.  My husband had become impossible to live with and I was to the point of filing for divorce. He was constantly angry, irritable and verbally abusive.   While trying to enlist the aide of a friend of his to see if he could talk some sense into my husband, he asked if It was possible my husband was just depressed. Though he had been out of work for nearly a year with no prospects and, had been turned down several times for jobs he was well qualified for, the thought had never crossed my mind.  The typical symptoms of depression; sadness, helplessness etc weren't there but I did a little research and was STUNNED to see that men often show depression in a different way with aggression, nit-picking, argumentativeness etc. I printed out this information and after yet another after-fight apology from him, gave him the list.  Reading it, he cried. He took the information to his doctor and began taking an antidepressant.  I got my husband back! I feel very lucky that my friend suggested depression because I would have never suspected it and it saddens me to think of how many  relationships end because the males are being difficult due to depression and not just being a**holes as it appears on the surface. It would be very helpful if you would touch on the anger/irritability/abusiveness symptoms of depression in a future column. It was life-changing information for us and with the current economic situations that people are facing, I'm sure more and more families would find this insight useful. .
POSTED: Wednesday, September 30, 2009, 10:38 AM

Hi Dr. Dan:
How does one be in a relationship with a narcissistic parent?
I am an only child and my parents were divorced when I was 8. My mother passed away from illness when I was 21 so my father is all I have. He has some health issues but none that would keep him from working. He chooses not to work, and live off the government on social security. 
I can go on and talk about the false suicidal threats he pulled, the number of times I gave him money, a place to live, etc…
And it's not just financial. I have also been in a parental role emotionally. My father has never had much interest in my life.
Recently I was telling my father about a treatment I was going to start to treat for a skin condition. He interrupted me in mid-sentence to tell me about his friend's child. I realized that his self-absorption was even more severe than I realized.
Yesterday was my birthday and he did not bother to call me or see me. This was a first but no surprise. I'm wondering how I should proceed. Do I not call him on this? Do I ignore him on his birthday?
I think the bigger issue is how much I give to a parent who gives so little back? I invite him over for dinners, take him out to eat, get him presents on father’s day, etc... I guess I do this out of my own guilt and fear of losing a connection with him. Deep down I have a fear of him dying. I realized this a few years ago when he used suicidal threats to manipulate me.
I’d appreciate any thoughts on how to handle this.

Tired daughter 

Dear tired daughter:
Although your father may be depressed, he shows many signs of a narcissistic personality disorder. Those with this disorder believe they are “special.” They require excessive admiration, display an unreasonable sense of entitlement and lack empathy.
Personality disorders are notoriously difficult to treat because like your father, these people with these disorders don’t think they have a problem. So they rarely seek treatment. When they do, they usually lack the commitment required to begin modifying one's personality
.
I understand that you are angry at his manipulation and that he cares more about himself than his only child. And I understand the terrible imbalance in this relationship.

POSTED: Friday, September 18, 2009, 1:31 PM

Hi Dr. Gottlieb,

My young daughter is having a difficult year. She has been doing various sports and playing music for several years with much success. But this year, her first in high school, things are not going well.

She has been getting low scores in her athletics compared to her friends. She also did not make the high school band while her friends were accepted.

POSTED: Tuesday, September 15, 2009, 5:06 PM
Divorce article - 9/14/09
Q: Hello:
As a child of divorce in 1961 I read with great interest the article from the grandmother looking for support.
My brother and I also did not want to sleep at our father's, but would gladly sleep at our grandparents. Our grandparents offered security and unconditional love that we did not find with our father.
For a father to have the attitude that his 8 year old should 'learn to cope' is a horrible way to deal with the trauma of divorce. This poor kid is dealing with enough right now.
I was wondering why you didn't suggest the father get counseling or an attitude adjustment. And why hasn't anyone asked this child why he doesn't want to sleep at his dads?
For the statistics I fall into the 75% and my brother falls into the 25%.
Sherri

Philadelphia, PA

About this blog
Dan Gottlieb is a psychologist and marital therapist and has been in practice nearly 40 years. His career started in community mental health and substance abuse until his accident in 1979 made him a quadriplegic.

Since that time, he has been in private practice. Since 1985, he has been hosting a radio show called "Voices in the Family" on WHYY FM, Philadelphia's NPR affiliate. He was a regular columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 1994 until 2008. He is also the author of four books.

www.drdangottlieb.com

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