Stages of Attachment Parenting – Part Two

Shock and denial – Pain and Guilt – Anger and Bargaining – Depression and Loneliness – The Upward Turn – Reconstruction of your life and Working Through – Acceptance and Hope.  Sound familiar?

I think we work through those stages constantly throughout our child’s life, as do all parents of special needs kids. The reason I keep pointing that out (special needs kids) is because when you look at it from that perspective, we are in a HUGE group, we are not alone, and there are so many people experiencing the exact same feelings as we are. It’s not just “RAD” or adoptive parents, it’s all parents mourning the loss of the life they thought they’d had – and learning that (a) it’s ok to have had those dreams and (b) it’s ok to mourn their loss, it doesn’t mean you don’t love your child and (c) it doesn’t diminish your child in any way to mourn your expectations of life.

So work through those feelings, don’t bury them, or allow yourself to be consumed with guilt.  See a grief counselor if you need to.  There’s no shame in that!    Allow yourself to mourn so that you can move on.  And you can, and you will.  This may not be the train you thought you were getting on, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to be an enlightening journey, worthwhile, all the same.

Hang in there!

-realmom

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Are there stages of attachment parenting?

“I feel like I’m stuck in a rut.  Are there stages of attachment parenting, like there are stages of grief?”  This was a question posed in a large on-line forum.

The poster hit the nail in the head so much closer than he/she realized.  Feeling stuck in a rut in your attachment process to your attachment challenged child is an indicator that something is out of whack with you.  Now that’s not a judgement or pointing a finger.  Bear with me.  With attachment challenged children, or mentally ill children, kids with conduct disorder, etc. we are asked to go against nature, instinct that has kept humans alive for thousands of years.  We are asked to love even though we are being abused, we are asked to forgive when no forgiveness is asked, we are asked to give when we are constantly being taken from.  As a matter of human survival, we instinctively recoil from abusive relationships.  We have bad feelings towards that person, we get angry, bitter, feel used.  We don’t have happy happy joy joy thoughts about that person!  If these situations were in a spousal relationship, you’d tell your friend to leave the abusive bastard (assuming your friend is a she)!  But when it’s our child, whether adopted, step, or bio, we’re supposed to just go, oh, ok, that’s ok, beat me some more, call me some more names, wreck my house some more, that’s ok because you’re my kid, I have no bad feelings about it?  Not possible!

We have to be super human, in a sense, and go against nature to help in the healing of our kids.  We have to respond therapeutically when we want to rage and scream right back.  And the only way I’ve seen to do that is to have your own emotional tank filled to the top, so that you have all this extra to give a child that never gives back.  Every day things in life take from us emotionally, even spiritually, and drain our tanks to a certain level.  Our spouse will drain it some.  Our “normal happy children” will drain it even on the best of days, especially when they’re teens.  But a kid with attachment issues, trauma backgrounds, will suck the tank dry in seconds.  And if you’ve got a low tank to begin with, they’re going to feel like they’re sucking the life out of you.  Which in a way, they are.

This is the one time in life when it is critical that moms – parents – put themselves first.  #1 priority is themselves, their relationship first.  That may mean Precious doesn’t get to go to Disney every year because mom and dad need a week away from the kids.  That’s ok, because in the long run, you are doing your kids a lot more good than Mickey Mouse.  It may mean Mr. Charming doesn’t get to shop at Hollister because mom and dad are taking a cruise so that everybody waits on them hand and foot.  Again, Hollister won’t notice, Mr. Charming will throw fits anyway, and you will get a lot more mileage out of that cruise than the worn-twice sweatshirt that ends up in the back of the closet.

So – no guilt.  Do what you need to do to take care of YOU – in healthy ways! Take time away, eat right, exercise, join a gym, date your spouse, hazard pay the babysitter, whatever it takes – do it.  In the long run that’s the best thing you can do for your kids, both the troubled and the rest, because you’ll have more to give to all of them.

Hang in there.

-realmom

Good Info for your Teachers/Schools

I just came across this article and it is spot on.  It’s fairly long, but is awesome information to go over with your school, your kid’s teachers, assistants, and anyone that has regular contact with your child in school.  It explains their behaviors very well, the whys behind it, and supports the parents.

 

The Attachment Disordered Child and School

Oh yeah, and it’s from The Institute for Attachment & Child Development, and some something you’ve written down and sent to the teacher/principal.  After all, you’re “just” the parent, what could “you” possibly know about child-rearing and your child in particular? (shaking head)  Or maybe your child is in a good school and they actually listen to you and respect what you have to say.  If that’s the case, hurray! and here’s more info to give them.  I like how it explains things out in layman’s terms and details the common behaviors in school vs. home.

I kind of laughed while I was reading this, because I was in the middle of the passive-aggressive portion of the article when my attachment challenged child went into the living room and started watching a show his older brother had requested to watch… something maybe a bit old for him, maybe not, but certainly something he needed to ask if he could watch, since it wasn’t on “their” tv (which is locked down six ways from Sunday as far as channels go).  I said that he needed to ask before watching that program with his brother.  In typical form, rather than just ask right then if he could watch it (the answer would have been yes), he got up and went back into the playroom and turned on cartoons.  That’s such a typical example of “You’re not in control of me”.  Passive-aggressive, not in your face defiant, but I am certain that will be added to his list of infractions he keeps in his mind and he will “get even” later, even if later is a year from now (providing he hasn’t made a breakthrough by then).

We are lucky that his teacher is on board with us and does everything we suggest (like not repeated warnings, not buying into the “poor me” crap, victim thing he plays at school so much).  I had hoped that it meant he would do well this year, because instead of spending the first part of the year charming the teacher, playing the little games, then seeing how much he could get away with and upping the ante every week, so by the end of the school year the teacher is pulling her hair out and calling me every day (even though she’d been warned!), I thought that maybe if the teacher was on board from the get-go, and his little charm games didn’t work, that maybe he’d focus on the work.  It’s halfway through the school year and I can say this year, with this child and where he’s at emotionally/mentally, it’s been a failure.  He’s not the biggest or worst behaved child in his class (usually by this point in time, he really pours on the juice).  So for me, that’s a win.  For his teacher, OMG, that poor person!  But academically, he’s not doing well at all.  He “can” do well, as a lot of our kids are, he’s quite bright intellectually, but thinks he knows everything and has no need to learn what they are teaching him in school.  Some days he does above his grade level, other days, it’s like his first day in this country not understanding the language.  And I’ve watched it long enough to know it’s not based on events, things happening at home, traumaversaries, none of that.  It’s something he turns on and off at will.  And he can even verbalize that.

I’m not sharing all this with you for any other reason except to commiserate with you.  Same boat, we’re in, rowing as hard as we can to get to the other side, but a bunch of jerks on a speedboat named Trauma keeps throwing us off course!

Hang in there.

-realmom

 

Pre-Trauma Momma Me

Pre-Trauma Momma Me remembers the story of the two local boys, aged 10 & 8, who accidentally set fire to a scrap yard – where they had sprayed gasoline all around and then continued to play, completely oblivious to the danger – until the entire place exploded around them.   (One boy was burned over 98% of his body – you read that right, he survived – and the other 28%.)  Pre-Trauma Momma me remembers my judgement of those boys at that time.  “Well at least the trouble-makers were hurt instead of innocent people.”   “They deserved to get hurt doing what they did.”

Ouch.

It’s 25 years later, and those brothers are still alive.  25  years later, I am a mom to traumatized children.  I know a lot about kids who do things they shouldn’t do, regardless of how their parents try to parent them away from dangerous situations.  I am a parent of children whose 10 year old was doused in gasoline (thank God no fire) because the 8 year old broke into the neighbor’s garage and stole some, thinking it’d be fun to play with.  I am the lucky parent without burned children and whose house did not explode or whose child did not burn down the neighbor’s house with them inside accidentally.

The brothers from the fire have spent the last 25 years (after recovering) trying to help other kids who have been burned, and to help prevent kids from doing what they did.  Now in their mid 30’s, it’s still a message they continue to share.  The older boy, the one who was burned the worst, lost his arms and legs and endured over 100 surgeries as a 10 year old child.  This “trouble-maker” as I labeled him back then was placed into foster care with his brother after the incident by their mother (who couldn’t take care of two severely burned children and their younger siblings).  So here he is, basically his entire body burned, he’s awake, not in a coma, he knows his brother is hurt too, but he doesn’t get to see him, and he’s completely alone as he undergoes these horrible procedures burn victims go through.  And when he comes through it – he and his brother, now foster kids, now “nobody’s kids”, “trouble-makers”, start a campaign to help other kids, to prevent other kids from doing what they did.

And I judged them as deserving what they got.

I am ashamed of my 25 years ago judgemental self, who lacked the compassion for 2 little boys who “should have known better” but didn’t, who gave no thought at all to the future of these two little boys and where they might end up.

It also makes me realize that people that judge my kids, my family, not knowing what my kids have been through, not knowing what my kids are going through, not knowing how we are parenting our kids and how hard we are trying to get them on the right track, to help them see the bigger picture, these people are only judging from that one snapshot, that one event that they see in our lives.  They don’t know what they don’t know, what they haven’t experienced.  And maybe they too will be looking back in that moment years from now and be horrified by their thoughts and actions in that moment of time.  So maybe I can allow some grace to them, having stood in their shoes myself.  I can try, at least.

For the story on the fire, see the news stories at:  http://kwqc.com/2016/02/04/miracle-from-mccabes-25-years-after-the-fire/