One of the most important parts of the healing process is for parents to realize that it is important to take care of themselves. Find the time to relax and realize that, under the circumstances, many of the feelings you have about your attachment-disordered child are normal. You need to acknowledge these feelings, not deny them and keep them buried where they fester and make you lash out at your child and those around you.
You have been under attack in your own home, and those attacks are primarily coming from your child as well as others who just don’t understand or want to understand. But, you must remember that a child with severe attachment disorder is a very sick child, not a monster. So learn how to effectively parent your child, and learn how to deal with your feelings by talking to others who live the same life or to a professional therapist who is trained to treat attachment disorder. Oftentimes, your child’s attachment therapist can help you work through your issues and feelings about your child. Keeping these feelings inside only makes the situation worse. You cannot effectively parent your child if you are not taking care of yourself.
Below is an article that may help you to understand your situation a bit better:
Dear RAD Mom,
I am one of many moms who nationally provide support to families with children affected by attachment disorder. Our children have much in common; but over the years, I have found that we “moms” do too. This common ground is our “emotions.” Most moms are shocked to learn others feel, or have felt, the same.
In my numerous observations and conversations, I’ve come to realize that unless a mom can get past these damaging emotions and misconceptions, the child has trouble healing, and other relationships are challenged.
So, from one mom to another, here goes.
SELF-BLAME: Many moms have the misconception that they should be able to solve their child’s problems– super-mom syndrome. The worst of all feelings! We are angels, not gods.
GUILT: On many levels.
- Without knowing any better, most of us have lost our tempers with our child.
- About how we often feel toward our child. Let’s face it, their disorder makes them hard to “like,” let alone “love,” them sometimes.
- That “we” let our family fall apart (the god thing again).
- That we don’t spend enough quality time with our other children, our spouse, and taking care of ourselves.
- That we are having trouble forgiving our child for past behaviors– BIG ONE!
- That we are angry with God for this tremendous challenge.
ANGER: Or betrayal or feeling frustrated
- At our husbands for not believing us or noticing the child’s strange manipulations. For not understanding; for not supporting us emotionally; for countermining our new parenting techniques (usually by losing their temper); for not being as committed in using the new parenting techniques or reading the materials; for “saving” the child when he or she didn’t need saving; for not helping us when we needed helped; and for leaving it all to us.
- At the system or adoption agency. Cries for help went out for years– bad advice and blame were given in return.
- At our attachment-disordered child. For doing this “to us.” We took it personally and saw the child “as” the disorder, instead of a child “with” an emotional disorder.
- At family and friends for saying things like, “All kids do that!” and for not understanding what our life was like.
- At ourselves for not being our “old self” or fun anymore.
- At God– Why me?
- At everyone you had to “explain” the disorder to and that you had to explain it to so many.
- Of ourselves, our abilities– feeling un-empowered.
- Of the system.
- Of helping professionals. We have been given so much “bad” advice we question even “good” advice.
- Of other supports.
DESPAIR AND LOSS OF HOPE:
- “Will it ever get better?”
- “Why read another book? nothing helps.” “I’m tired.”
ISOLATED and ALONE
No one understands and we “believe” we can’t get respite from our problem child.
Many moms suffer from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and secondary post-traumatic stress disorder.
In my own experience, and I know I speak for other moms as well, talking about and dealing with these feelings is helpful and necessary for you and your family.
Your child’s therapist may be your best resource. Request a separate session– this is not for your child’s ears. I encourage therapists to initiate a session for this purpose.
In her book “The Whole Parent, How to Become a Terrific Parent Even if you Didn’t Have One,” Debra Wesselmann describes many coping techniques and step-by-step approaches to dealing with stress. She helps the reader identify parental misperceptions and how to challenge them. In addition, this book deals with managing tough emotions, creating a new wellspring of nurturing experiences for both you and your child, forming healing connections, coping with what seems like too much, strengthening your relationship with your child, parenting the more challenging child, strengthening your attachment with your child at any age, and more.
May God keep you in His special place.
This may be copied and distributed without permission:
Families with Attachment Disordered Children– Pennsylvania and beyond. 412.366.7113