I need help with something that is bothering me

Hi everyone,

I know this is kind of a weird thing to ask about here and I will intentionally keep it vague to protect the people involved.

A and B are children that I know. They are very sweet and they are very important to me. Due to reasons I won’t go into, C only has them for 1 1/2 weeks per month. For the rest of the month they are with D.

I don’t see A and B much but I always enjoy seeing them, and so does my husband. We bought them early Christmas presents yesterday and we weren’t going to stay long but C brought us outside to talk about A because of some behaviors they notice when not with D.

A has been struggling in school, becoming withdrawn, cries at the drop of a hat and has started to self harm (A has started hitting themselves when they are upset.). This really bothers me because I know what that kind of behavior means and where it could lead. I don’t know if B has the same behaviors but I think it would be safe to assume they feel the same.

I want so badly to help A and B but I don’t know how. I don’t have proof of abusive behavior with D, but I know C didn’t make them this way. C doesn’t spend enough time with A and B because of D but C does everything they can.

Is anyone familiar with situations like this and what I can maybe do to help? I’m sorry I can’t go into more detail but it is important that nobody knows the identity of A, B, C or D.


I feel a bit familiar with that kind of situation because of my prior job, but it’s really just a guess here, as the details are a little blurry (just talking about the context, not the names of course). To understand a little more, I have a couple of questions, but if you don’t want to respond it’s totally okay.

  • Regarding C: they shared with you about the behaviors of A. What is C’s view about the situation? What are their own conclusions (or hypothesis)? As the parent, their outlook is important and they might have a deeper knowledge of the situation.

  • Regarding the reason behind the fact that C have their kids 1 1/2 weeks per month: if it’s not “just” a divorce or separation and what it implies, is there a professional who accompanies them in their parenting work? (C and D, or just C or D) Like a social worker or an educator.

  • This difference of time the kids are spending with each parent, is it new or something that is already established for a certain time now?

  • The most important: Did C actually talked to A about this behavior? To try to understand why they withdraw, cry or self-harm. If yes, did the child mentioned something alarming? Did they talk with their teachers about it to see if they noticed things too? (or the other adults the kid is in contact with recently)

  • Is dialogue between C and D possible? Did they talk about it together?

  • Is B grown enough or close enough to A (or C) to have a voice about this?

I see that you mention the possibility of abuse and I hear your concern. Now, as an outsider, and just as a “gut feeling” with the elements you shared here, it seems that there might be at least four possibilities (but again, I’m aware that I only perceive a little % of their situation and story):

  • The kid being disturbed by this division of time spent C and D. In general, a separation and major change like that can have a deep impact on children, especially if there are more reasons than “just” a divorce (like mental health issues, drugs or violence). So it’s important to talk about it with them, to give them a space to express how they feel.
  • An abusive behavior from C or D (we can know people but never really know them either).
  • An abusive behavior from someone else: another child, a teacher, another family member (?).
  • A communication issue or a disorder (related to autism spectrum for example).

I will private message you.

Sorry Micro, I had a long ng message with all of your bullet points addressed but it didn’t send and I lost it. I will try again after work.

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