“A few years ago, we sought out counselling at Catholic Family Service because our then five-year-old daughter heard a scary item on the radio. It was a horrendous story about a woman who had been kidnapped. It never occurred to me that my little girl would be listening in the back seat. That night, she asked, ‘Mommy, why would they take that woman?’ In the days following, we had the same conversation every night and her reaction progressed to teary, snotty, panicky crying: ‘Those men are going to come and climb in my window.’”
As soon as I’d arrive home from work, she’d be stuck to me. Each night at bedtime she’d tearfully demand we sit on her bed or in the hallway, just outside her room. She was waking up in terror because of this news story. No one in the house was sleeping and I remember the helplessness all of us felt. My husband and I have all kinds of privilege and education, but we didn’t know what to do with a shattered five-year-old having panic attacks at 3:00 am.
We had three sessions with the counsellor, who explained to our daughter that she was safe and helped her to understand, “There is Greta and Mummy time, there’s Greta time and there’s Mummy time.” These kinds of re-framing statements helped us navigate through a very worrisome and emotional time. Years later, I turned to Catholic Family Service again for another tune-up. A handful of sessions of counselling, at times when we really needed to process things differently, were very meaningful.”