How To Be a Better Dad: “Self Harm”

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How To Be a Better Dad is the Fatherhood and co-parenting section on SingleDad. This month, learn about how to talk to your kids about self harm and learn what it is. Read more.

How To Be a Better Dad:
"Self Harm"

How To Be a Better Dad is the Fatherhood and co-parenting
section on SingleDad. This month, learn about how to talk to your kids about
self harm.

Dear Single Dad,

I divorced the mother of my 15 year old
daughter this past year, a tremendously difficult decision but something that
had it coming for a while. In the
months following the divorce I kept a watchful eye on my daughter, knowing that
she was going through a hard time with the divorce just as we all were. To my surprise, she seemed to be
handling it all considerably well and after the half-year mark passed, while
none of us had completely recovered from the recent rupture in our realities, it
appeared as though we were all starting to make steps in that direction. I had just got a new promotion, which
boosted my spirits enough to keep me afloat, and my daughter was doing well in
school and seemed to still have a healthy social life. However, one day while getting into the
shower I noticed a small rectangular piece of metal resting on the edge of the
white porcelain tub – a razorblade.
When I confronted my daughter about it she confessed that she had
started cutting after the divorce.
I feel so guilty that I had a part in causing that physical pain in my
daughter, and that it went on for so long before I even noticed when I thought,
so naïvely, that everything was somehow somewhat still stable. She promised that she would stop, but I’m
not stupid and I know she continues to self-harm even still. What do you recommend I do? I can’t bear to see her endure any more
pain.

Sincerely,

Naïve and in Need

Sad Girl

Dear Naïve and in Need,

First off, you need to come to terms
with the fact that you are not responsible for your daughter’s decisions. While your divorce may have acted as a
trigger for her actions of self-harm, she has an individual mind and her own
free will; she was the one to push the blade into her skin, not you. You need to stop blaming yourself.

Most importantly, you need to have a
real conversation with your daughter.
Choose a time that is good for the both of you – meaning, the mood is
mellow and things are on good terms.
This needs to be a talk of truth, of love and compassion, understanding
and support. Ask her why she does
it, and try to direct the conversation in a direction that gets her thinking
about stopping. That is the key to
this situation: it has to be her who makes the decision to stop, you can’t make
it for her – just like you didn’t make the cuts. Make her realize that her actions are unhealthy and
dangerous (if you have to use scare tactics and guilt trips, so be it). Tell her that when she hurts herself,
she isn’t just inflicting pain upon herself but also upon others who care about
her.

Teens and Cutting

Then, end the conversation by stating
that there will be no razorblades allowed in the house, nor anything else to be
used for self-harm purposes, and that she is to gather up all of the
razorblades she currently possesses and throw them away. This means you have to take things to
the next level, searching her entire room after she professes to have rid her
space of sharp objects for anything that could have been left behind. Remember, this is your daughter’s
safety and well being at hand, and while it may be invasive to search through
her belongings it is the necessary thing to do in this situation. Also, to help support her decisions to
discontinue harming herself set up a reward system that will treat her for
making good decisions. For
example, you could plan a special trip for the two of you a few months into the
future and tell her that if she doesn’t cut until then she can go (or something
similar to that concept).

Talking

Get Help, Get Informed

Lastly, set up some counseling for your
daughter, and perhaps even a family counselor in addition to her personal
therapist. Have her attend
sessions until you feel, and she feels, that it has been beneficial and
productive (and perhaps consider continuing to see them if it truly was
helpful). And through everything,
be there to support her making positive, healthy decisions – and give her lots
and lots of love. In the end all
we can do is try our best, and I’m confident in the both of you in finding
recovery.

For more information on self harm Click Here.

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Parent Advice?

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Richard JaramilloRichard “RJ” Jaramillo, is the Founder of SingleDad.com,
a website and social media resource dedicated to single parenting and specifically for the newly divorced, re-married, widowed and single Father with children.
RJ is self employed, entrepreneur living in San Diego and a father of three children. The mission of SingleDad is to help the community of Single Parents
“Make Life Happen…Again!”