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My daughter's boyfriend died - How do I help her cope?

Published:Monday | January 25, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Q. My teenage daughter's boyfriend died and she is taking it so hard. It resulted from a car accident that was his fault. You know these young people and the fast driving. He was 18, she is 16. She was in the car and survived without a scratch. It happened over six months ago. How do I help her? She is going to school, but just barely doing any work.

A. Anyone who goes through a traumatic experience and is having trouble getting back to their regular life may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When you have PTSD, it can seem like you'll never get over what happened or feel normal again. This sounds like what your daughter is experiencing. She is also grieving and trying to cope with the loss of her boyfriend. Please take her to a psychologist who will provide counselling for her. You should also attend some of the sessions so you can learn to help her cope with this painful experience.

Q. My son now has his doctorate and is so haughty I cannot believe he is my child. He constantly makes comments about being called 'Doc' around the family and at his office. They are disgusted with him. He is 26 and has done well academically, but seems so arrogant.

A. Many times it is noticed that some persons, having achieved academic success, are not as humble as they should be because they want others to adapt to them. You can ask a psychologist to speak with him, and make him aware that you and others are not comfortable with his attitude. He will have to decide to be humble. Pray for him, as he will be a happier person when he practises humility.

Q. We have some family friends abroad who always send gifts for us and our four children. We are not earning a lot and cannot afford to send them much in return. I heard a friend make a comment that we seem to be their charity case. It was said in such a way that I think it came from them. How do I deal with this?

A. If the family who is so kind to you has not stopped giving you gifts that you have not asked for, do not share the negative comments you have heard with them. Keep on doing what you can to show your appreciation. I am quite sure they are doing what they can because they are happy doing so. Remember, having the children make a thank-you card and sending it to them or, when they visit, inviting them over for a real home-cooked meal, may mean more to them than you could ever imagine.

Orlean Brown-Earle, PhD, is a child psychologist and family therapist. Dr Brown-Earle works with children with learning and behaviour problems throughout the island and in the Caribbean. Email questions to or send to Ask the Doc, c/o The Gleaner Company, 7 North Street, Kingston.