I don’t think I’m going to be talking about our parenting techniques anymore. Even my closest friends, who are by no means unkind, seem to draw back in horror. The other day one said, “Don’t you worry that these techniques will backfire and they’ll hate you later?” Of course, I worry about whether I’m doing the right thing. Doesn’t every parent? But I look at the results in my kids, namely: one sixteen-year-old boy who describes himself as “happy” for the first time in eight years and who is capable of connecting with his feelings and identifying what is bothering him, talking about it and getting better; one fourteen-year-old girl who has finally, finally, FINALLY let go of trying to be in control and is loving life, loving us, and we are loving (and enjoying) her; one nine-year-old boy who has eliminated a good seventy percent of his trying-to-be-the-boss behaviors and is so much calmer and more enjoyable to be around.
I tried to explain to my friends that these techniques wouldn’t work with their kids because their kids are bonded to them. In the context of a healthy parent-child bond, these techniques could damage the attachment. Like our therapist said the first time we saw her, “I teach abnormal parenting. Your kids would prefer NOT to attach to you.” My friend, still not unkindly, said, “But these are little people” as though I was being so heartless and cruel.
It’s so hard to stay the course in these techniques because my brain and heart are not RAD-damaged so it kills me not to respond when my kids are in distress. I second-guess myself almost every second of the process until at the end, whichever child it is emerges calmer, happier and more attached to me. I probably wouldn’t believe it if I weren’t seeing the results for myself.
My daughter slipped up the other day and trield to pull a fast one. I lovingly put her back in the bathroom, and held her and rocked her. I almost shocked myself with how nurturingly I cupped her face and told her how much I loved her, and that I was doing this to help her get back on track. My religion teaches, “By their fruits, you shall know them” and the fruit of our attachment, and more importantly my increasing ability to nurture her, is undeniable.
I wish other people in my life could understand. All they see is that I had good kids before and I have good kids now. They hear the stories about the stealing, the screaming, the violent rages, the property damage, the fire-starting, etc. but they can’t really understand because my kids are always such angels in front of anyone else.
I don’t feel judged by others as much as misunderstood. I think they give me the benefit of the doubt but chalk my methods up to my particular personality style rather than getting that my kids need special (and crazy-seeming) techniques to bond like healthy kids can bond. It’s just not worth trying to explain everything all the time. Thank heavens for our therapist who tells me we’re on the right track and celebrates the successes with me.
It’s a very elite club (RAD parents), and it’s lonely at the top of RAD mountain. But I go back to the results: my home feels good to be in, all of us are kinder to each other, and we enjoy being together as a family. I would never have believed I could have such good warm feelings for my children after all these years of absolute torture, but I do. By their fruits, ye shall know them.
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