DEAR ABBY: I have a daughter, "Morgan," who is 4. I recently found out that Morgan's father wants to start having visitation with her again after being out of her life for more than two years. We've gone to court, and I have been ordered to let this happen even though Morgan doesn't remember him.
Morgan has a problem with people; she gets very scared and upset when anyone gets too close to her, and becomes hysterical when someone tries to take her from me. She hasn't started preschool yet because the teachers told me they couldn't deal with her because she would cry until she made herself sick or passed out!
Now Morgan will have to be around her "father," and the courts say that after a few months of supervised visits he will be allowed to take her for unsupervised visits. I know how extremely hard this is going to be for my daughter, and it tears me apart to see her cry.
My question is, how do I explain to Morgan who this person is (she has had a "daddy" -- my husband -- since she was 1), and that I have no control over the fact that she has to see him and spend time alone with him? Is there anything I can do to help her? -- HURTING IN THE NORTHEAST
DEAR HURTING: Because your daughter's extreme separation anxiety has prevented her from entering preschool, my advice is to take her to a child psychologist for evaluation and therapy. You will be doing her an enormous favor.
Sometimes parents telegraph their fears to their children. Therefore, in order to manage your own anxiety about what's coming, some sessions with a therapist would be beneficial to you, too. Please don't put it off.