Sunday, April 13, 2014

Could Jesus parent RADical kids?

I found myself recently typing "Even Jesus would have a hard time caring for hurt kids" when I stopped to consider.  Would he? 

It's hard.  It's upside down.  It's thankless. 

He would do it, of course, but would it be hard
When I think of Jesus, I generally think

loving, calm, accepting, patient.  

But he wasn't always; he got mad, he hurt, he was sad, frustrated, angry, confused, all the usual emotions.  He's not the sissy you see in the movies.  He carried the weight of the world on his shoulders and had normal emotions, yet I always think

loving, calm, accepting, patient

He cares for all of us, all the broken humans, with all our broken dreams.

Talk about hard, and upside down, and thankless.  

Imagine all our difficult, hurting kiddos, times a billion.  
So yes, I think he would have a hard time caring for hurt kids, but he already does it daily.  And he does it well.  While feeling all those emotions, he somehow exudes

loving, calm, accepting, patience.

I can't do that.  I'm not the savior of the world.  But I can do better.  I only have three hearts to care for and I can do better at loving, calm, accepting, patience. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

My Orlando

As soon as I saw this, I knew I had to tweak it for Orlando. ❤  This is for all of my trauma mamas, especially my Haven family who keeps my nest cozy and keeps the chocolate coming.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

For a few years now, we've really been struggling with Cj, our "normal" child (if that doesn't offend you), our Neuro-Typical child (if it does).  He's securely attached and not RADical like the other two, but holy heck does he have issues.  Dad and I have PTSD from all the RADicals brought to the family, so we GET that it's hard, and we've been very understanding and educating.  But he has an anger that goes way yonder beyond normal sibling rivalry.  I have a brother and Dad has brothers and sisters and we understand bickering.  But this is pure hatred.  It's not mean, hurt, lashing out, it's just hatred, with a level of rage that we just don't understand.
For years now, we've tried so many different things, from giving him special privileges (because he's indeed more responsible) to entirely grounding him from the family (to protect us all from him) and literally a hundred other things in between, but nothing has helped.  It's worse now than ever.  Mr and Em brought crazy to the family, and it was pretty horrible, but this is an ugly that's just ripping our family apart.  As always, we're very open with the kids and they're all aware of his anger/hatred and he just thinks it's justified, but has no good reasons why.
So we've poked, prodded, dug, and researched because we're just not willing to live like this any longer.  Something that kept popping up in my reading always caught my eye, but sounded too simple (aka flaky).  But in researching that more specifically, it doesn't just sound like him, it IS him. 
Narcissistic Personality Disorder, honestly it sounds like a spoiled brat, but in looking at the symptoms, we said whoa, all of those.  And nothing else.  This alone encompasses all of his behavior and explains a whole heckuva lot.  And is slightly encouraging because he doesn't MEAN to be so MEAN. 
  • Believing that you're better than others
  • Fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness
  • Exaggerating your achievements or talents
  • Expecting constant praise and admiration
  • Believing that you're special and acting accordingly
  • Failing to recognize other people's emotions and feelings
  • Expecting others to go along with your ideas and plans
  • Taking advantage of others
  • Expressing disdain for those you feel are inferior
  • Being jealous of others
  • Believing that others are jealous of you
  • Trouble keeping healthy relationships
  • Setting unrealistic goals
  • Being easily hurt and rejected
  • Having a fragile self-esteem
  • Appearing as tough-minded or unemotional 
The interesting thing is we talked with him and read through this list and said do any of these sound like you?  He said no, to every one.  THAT is telling.  He doesn't believe that he believes he's better than others, he simply thinks he IS better than others.  He has no problem saying he deserves more and sees nothing wrong with it.  If there's one donut left, he thinks he deserves it.  Of course all of us WANT it, but he says he deserves it.  He deserves to choose the TV shows, the games they play, the rules they use, because he's the best.  That simply makes sense to him and he thinks we're just mean and crazy to not understand that.  When we try to make things fair, he is feeling shorted because he doesn't get the most/biggest/best as deserved.  :/ 

Of course the kicker to all of this new understanding is that like reactive attachment disorder, it ALSO stems from trauma and attachment.  Ugh!  We've always thought well, Cj was just more resilient than Em or Mr because he's had no problems attaching.  We just thought he had a healthy self-confidence, but are learning that that is also a response to trauma, an overdose of fake self-confidence to cover for insecurity.  So while the other two kids feared attachment and shrunk into themselves, Mr acting out and Em acting perfect, Cj swung the opposite way, becoming bigger and better than his circumstances and his fears. 

As an only child, we didn't notice this (until we look back, hindsight you know).  When we adopted the other two, we didn't notice (because we were busy going insane, as parents of RAD tend to do).  But now that we've peeled back all of those layers of crazy, and disconnected from the (distracting) rat race, and are left with just each other, we are faced with a bunch of ugly.  He's an amazing person, but an awful brother.  He's super considerate and helpful to others, but horrible to his family. 

So this is good news, mostly.  At least it's not on purpose and I fully believe it's not.  But working with him and trying to do behavioral therapy on our own will be challenging.  That's a nice way to say this will suck.  But we're not willing to not try. 

Torture with love

How do you torture your RADical darling? With love notes.  :) 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mother's Day

In case you remember last year's Mothers Day cards, wow, this year was a bit better.  Hopefully that means more healing has taken place. 
Em hasn't done hers yet, but I'm sure she'll just try to figure out what I want, even though I don't want anything except for her to have a real feeling. 
Cj's was just informational, so his birthmom would know the basic facts.  He said he has no emotions about her whatsoever.  I'm not sure I totally believe that, but I'm honoring it and just said okay, thanks. 
Mr's was a bit less harsh than last time.  And I admit I love the last line.  :)

Hi Mom.  I'm ten.  You probably know that.  I just want you to know that card last year was my anger for you but this one's about my love for you.  I know that you made f***ing bad choices but I forgive you.  I know you are nice in your heart.  Now I travel in an RV.  It's so much fun.  My mom now is about 2 million billion times better than you. 

I love that he feels she's nice in her heart.  That means he's able to feel that about himself. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Too hard!

I don't want to do dishes. They're too hard.  It's too boring.  It's no fun...  Have a drama queen RADical at your house too?? 
I said hold still, I need to show you a pic of what you look like. 
But Mom, it really IS too hard!  :/ 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Lessons RAD teaches about God

Along the lines of my RAD-inspired post about God loves every one of us NO MATTER WHAT we are/say/do, tonight another RADical thought hit us.

All we want is for Em to love us and let us love her.  But she's so busy hypervigilantly trying to do this, be that, say this, don't say that, all to be perfect enough for us to not send her away.  We simply want her to CHILL and just BE. 
It struck us that God wants the same thing, for us to just be. Love Him, let Him love us.  Simple. 

I think about Mr, who is attached now, and very cuddly with me, and I love when he comes up for a hug.  Even though he rushes off and bounces off people, is rotten, chooses not so wisely, and generally drives us crazy, he comes right back and makes my heart happy with another hug.  That's all I want.  Simple.

God loves us and looks forward to those moments.  There's no list, no attendance, no checkmark, just be.  Love Him, let Him love you.  Em doesn't trust that and tries to earn it, in vain.  Mr trusts and just (as the kids say) bes.

I love that our RADical kids show us our poor attempts at earning God's love.  Just be.  Love Him, let Him love us.  Simple. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Therapeutic parenting, right upside my head

You know when you’re super busy haughtily judging someone and it hits you... hard... right upside the head... that you do the same thing? Yeah, it hurts, and helps.

If you’re a therapeutic parent (by choice or not), you are supposed to be therapeutic for your child, the victim. Yes, you are *A* victim of trauma, but your child is *THE* victim. It’s VERY hard to parent these kids, but imagine how much harder it is to BE these kids.
A&T Network says Therapeutic Parenting is "the type of high structure/high nurture parenting that is needed for a traumatized child to feel safe and start relaxing enough that they begin to heal and attach.”
I suck at it, but I keep trying.  High structure is doable, but high nurture (with little "emotional return") is excruciatingly hard.  But either one, without the other, is useless.  

Some days I rock, but some days I forget the “for a child to feel safe” part and focus on the “for the mom to not be exhausted” part or the “for the mom to be pitied” part. Oh, those aren’t in there. That’s right. I’m not the victim; I’m the victims’ mom.  I’m an adult capable of understanding how abuse and neglect affect brain development, which affects behavior.  I'm able to (on most days) discern that my children’s behavior is not about me, but about their past.  Their past hurts much more than my present.

Today I needed this. I needed to cut short my pity party and grab a can of suck-it-up. If you need a can, please help yourself. And then help your child.

I think I’ll have another…

Monday, December 3, 2012

She doesn't like love

Em's come so far, but she still doesn't like love. Or the thought of liking love. The other day I heard her reading, "Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever." So I said, "See? LOVE will always follow you, no matter what you do." She said, "Love sounds like a creepy stalker." Ah, so far to go...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

They get it

Sometimes your RADicals get it, and can even joke with you about it.  These two brought me this book saying I needed it! :) 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Homeschooling RAD

Why we homeschool our kids with RAD.  I wanted to share how we chose  fell into  were nudged into  were forced to  tried not to  accidentally started homeschooling our kids with Reactive Attachment Disorder (and our one without). 
The short version: We did "nothing" and it was better than school.
Let me explain with the long version:  We never planned to homeschool. There are schools; kids go to them; we simply never thought beyond that.  So when our Attachment Therapist suggested what would really help Em heal was to be homeschooled, we said Um, no.
She said she really needs time alone with just me because she never gets that, being in school all day and with her siblings in the evening.  Still, no.
She said both boys had time with just their mom to attach and do all the things moms and babies do naturally.  Well, with Mr is wasn't naturally, but from age 3 to 6, thanks to a lot of attachment therapy and baby-focused play, and his siblings being in school all day, he did learn to love and trust.  Cj was only 20 months and (ironically) seemed very attached straight from an orphanage.  Of course he was with me all day doing those mom and baby things. Oh, dear.
Our AT was right, Em needed that.  Shoot.  How could we not?  Um, okay.
She suggested we simply give her one year.  She said ideally, she just needs mom time, not education.  But since she and Cj are the same age, it would be rough for her to be a grade behind him next year. She'd always have to explain that, which wouldn't help her self-esteem.  So we figured we'd keep an eye on Cj's homework and try to keep her on pace.  She wasn't doing well in school anyway, with low grades, high stress, behavior struggles, and days of "checking out" in her teacher's words. 
So in 2008, Em started grade 3 at home. We went to the pool, went shopping, ran errands, cooked, baked, cleaned, read, played with dolls, played computer games, played inside, played outside, and played some more.  That's it. All year.  And while she began the year far behind Cj, she ended the year far ahead of him. What?!  We didn't teach.  She didn't learn.  But somehow we did, and she did, on accident.
Obviously, that personal attention helped her esteem and confidence.  Obviously, she picked up some math skills playing with the calculator in the grocery store.  Obviously, she was absorbing history and science from her games and books.  Obviously, we couldn't send her back to school.  Oh, dear.
Obviously, if her year of "nothing" was better then their year full of stressful school, we couldn't send the boys back either.  Oh, dear
So, while we planned to spend a year attaching (which was very effective, I add almost as a side note), we accidentally spent a year learning.  And then another and another...
Most people have goals, plans, ideals, convictions, and strong feelings about why they want to homeschool.  We simply couldn't not do it after seeing the results of doing nothing, at home, together.  

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Seeing her feelings

One thing we've always done with em is "show" her her feelings (suggested by her AT). Since she doesn't feel her feelings or always connect them to what's on her face, we show her in a mirror and help her connect them. (I should explain that better, but it's late and I'm lazy).
In the car, she was really annoyed with me (because I touched her at the same time she thought she was "in trouble" so she was all tense and weird - and then I pointed that out). But she was making this very annoyed/frustrated face and I said wow are you annoyed with me for pointing out your feelings, look! And I took a picture of her. When I showed it to her, I expected her to just continue being annoyed, but she grabbed it and said WOW, do I seriously look like that?!
It cracked me up. Definitely not her best look. :)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

First Mothers' Day

Pretty big issues around here lately, so we’ve been doing lots of therapy and working on things. I don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel yet, but I do think there’s a light, so that’s a great improvement of late. It’s been tough.
We did a First Mother’s Day here as some therapy for the kids. No matter the issues, our kids’ first moms DID choose to have them, so they’ll always have my heart for that. I figured they’d be pretty detached and emotionless, so mr really surprised me, but in a good way. BIG feelings but he’s not trying to hide them or holding them in, so good stuff. He asked if he could “write a cuss” and I said these are your feelings so you can write absolutely anything you want. He did!
Cj is pretty typical for him and em is typical for her (trying to guess what I’d want her to write.) Maybe she’ll let go of those feelings one day. FYI, a LOT of therapy surrounded all this (with much positive and negative), so please don’t post advice or complain since you don't have the full story.  I'll frown and delete.
I do hope my cards tomorrow are different!
Language warning! Sharing unedited, except for misspelled words that were auto-corrected and erased names to protect the guilty.  The boys decided to burn theirs, so no pics.

Happy Mother’s Day. Thank you for not aborting me but I still hate you and even if you tried you couldn’t have me back. 
Fuck you, you bitch. 
I’m sorry for my bad language but that’s the way I feel. 

*cough* I know!

Hi Mom. My new name is __. I live in the USA. I am 12 years old. I am a Christian. And I have no hard feelings against you. :)
Happy Mother’s Day! How are you? Are you well? Have you had any other kids? I have a big family now. And live in my RV and travel the country. I have a new name and still live with my brother __ who is now __. I would like to hear more. 
I don’t resent you for what you’ve done. You made a mistake and like God I forgive you. God loves you. 
This was our first and it was interesting.  They ended up needing much more than honoring their first moms and it was hard good. I won't even try to explain.  Afterwards, em went outside and just sat, quietly reflecting, while the boys went into their room to wrestle.  Now that didn't surprise me.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Maybe I'm just right

It's my husband's turn to mourn our "what could have been" ideas today but in our discussion today he had a good insight. We always wonder why WE ended up with kids who need loving non-sarcastic patient compassionate parents (none of which fit us). I yet again said why couldn't they get someone like _____ [insert that compassionate patient mom you know] who would feel normal doing this?  He said maybe she couldn't handle it BECAUSE she is those things.  Maybe she couldn't handle the rejection like we can. Maybe it takes a parent whose heart is just hard enough to withstand it. 
 So while I usually think they needed a softer mom, maybe they really need me, because I'm not a softie and I'll stick it out!  Maybe Definitely I'm not the perfect mom that will be all they need to heal quickly, but maybe I am the perfect mom to stick it out and try mostly in vain but never give up so they can heal slowly. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Chaos to Healing

Have a RADical child? Then buy this now!

Chaos to Healing is a 99 minute Therapeutic Parenting 101 DVD by Christine Moers and Billy Kaplan. Watch it, then watch it again. You are welcome.

Need to watch it right this second? Yeah, you can do that!

Check out what Dan Hughes said. Yep, *that* Dan Hughes!

They do not give us magical techniques or parenting cookbooks. They direct our minds to the basics: an attitude of playfulness, acceptance, curiosity, and empathy (PACE) along with the value of developing a home that provides these children with safety, supervision, structure, and support. They offer no quick fix: Christine speaks of the need to interact with your child, again, and again, and again. . . However, they leave us with hope and renewed energy to provide these children with what they desperately need.
- Dan Hughes, Ph.D., Quittie Glen Center for Mental Health

You can thank me by clicking these affiliate links. Now I will thank you!