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My Granddaughter Told Me She Is Cutting

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From the U.S.: My 13 year old granddaughter has called me today to tell me that she is very unhappy at home and that she has been cutting herself. I asked her if she had told her mom. She said yes the first time she did it two years ago, when she was in 6th grade. She said that she wanted help and to go to a counselor or doctor about it but her Mom never took her. So now she told me that she cut herself again last week. What do i do?? She is very unhappy at home and not feeling good about herself.

I am happy that she feels she can speak to me about it but now that I know that her mom knows about it and has done nothing I do not know what to do! I am also very sad that my daughter did not tell me that about my granddaughter because we have always been very close and I saw them almost every day. I need help.

My Granddaughter Told Me She Is Cutting

Answered by on -

A.

This is a very difficult situation. If you do something independently, your daughter is likely to feel that you have over-stepped or that you may be even siding with her daughter against her. If you do nothing, you will feel like you haven’t given your granddaughter the help she needs. You are caught between your loyalties to both. This is never good.

I think the way out of that tricky spot is to talk to your daughter before making any further assumptions or decisions. You’ve always been close so why not try to work as a team to get to the bottom of what is troubling a girl you both love?

If you are concerned that your granddaughter will see it as a betrayal, talk to her beforehand. Tell her that it isn’t healthy for you to be trying to solve a problem behind her mother’s back. She asked for your help and you are going to see that her mother pays attention to the issue — which is the real point after all.

Then see if your daughter will agree to some family therapy — both to help your granddaughter with the cutting and also to help mother and daughter have a better connection. Your granddaughter is only 13. If they can establish better communication now, she and her mother will be better able to navigate the difficult teen years.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

My Granddaughter Told Me She Is Cutting

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). My Granddaughter Told Me She Is Cutting. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 20, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2015/09/19/my-granddaughter-told-me-she-is-cutting/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.