Nightmares - FamilyEducation
08/21/2007 at 22:47 PM

my wifes 16 year old son just moved in with us. He is a very sweet
kind boy who is very quiet. He was taken away from his dad and we got
him about 2 weeks ago. The reason that his dad lost him was because his
dad was sexually and physically abusing him. At night he often has
nightmares. He cries and screams often in his sleep and me and my wife
often go wake him up. Hes always very scared when he first wakes up and
a while after he is woken up too. He never wants to talk about his
dreams or even his feelings. My wife and I have both tried talking to
him. How do i help him?


Professional Counseling!

If he was sexually molested by anyone, especially his Father, he needs professional help. So do you and your wife; not because you are having problems, but because you will be a better parent under the circumstances.

Don't hesitate, get him to a psychologist or certified adolescent counselor. This is no place for "let's wait and see if he gets better." He may, but, it is too big a gamble.

There are levels or emotions - guilt, shame, anger, confusion, and many others - you, and most parents, are probably not equipped to address, and probably shouldn't because you are his current parents. At the least he is terrified at some level too. Assuring him "It will be ok!" and "we love you!" are nice to say, but he will have to rebuild his trust of not only adults, but of himself too.

In my opinion you should not ever lie to him, even a little one, like when the phone rings, he answers it and you may be tempted to whisper, "Tell them I'm taking a nap, and take a message." DON'T!

No physical punishment; not even a light swat that wouldn't startle a fly, because he could see it as a prelude to more; that should be obvious!

He needs for you to be firm but not overbearing. He will need for you to be a solid (don't tip-toe around him) foundation upon which he will re-build his trust in both himself and you, his understanding of his identity, and a level of confidence. It will take time and a bit of work.

Don't mess around with this; you may only get one chance.

DaMoKi Bob