When is it Okay to Give Up?

Helping RAD children succeed can be hard.

Crystal Perkins April 14, 2014
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cat giving upI just read a comment to my last post entitled “No High School Diploma” where the mom had a son just like mine and decided to home school him for the last two years of high school so that he could get his diploma. I really admire her for that. Home schooling is the ultimate sacrifice in my opinion. The only sanity break—not to mention privacy—I get from my kids is when they’re in school. I don’t know if I have it in me to home school my kids.

My high-school drop-out son, after two days of hard manual labor (including an entire day mucking out horse stalls at the horse therapist’s barn), decided he wasn’t ready to be an adult and chose to go back to school- part hallelujah, part postponing the inevitable? I’m not sure. It’s not like he suddenly transformed into a responsible student. He didn’t talk to the teachers about the work he missed and needs to make up (until prompted STRONGLY by mom), and didn’t turn in assignments that he had completed but instead left them sitting in his backpack all week. He does have a less resistant attitude. So …. are we better off? Since the door is open or at least cracked again for a high school diploma, I say we’re better off.

But the whole giving up thing is driving me crazy. Do I just let him meander through his classes being quasi-responsible as long as he passes? His school appears to give out D+’s at the last minute so that nobody actually fails. Is that good enough? Do I give up being on him like white on rice to be responsible and do the work and turn it in? Do I home school him to solve all of these problems but create a bigger one of me losing my mind?

Every RAD kid outcome I know of is not an outcome I want. Parents who pour all their hearts, money, time, and energy into doing everything they can for their RAD kids, and the kids still can’t live independently, or they can’t keep a job, or they are constantly in trouble with the police, or they’re on drugs, or they’re in lock-down units because of their violent behavior.

I kept thinking that we would go through this hell on earth now, but later the kids would marry, have kids, come for Sunday dinner, and things would be swell. I told my son’s therapist the other day that it’s like stair-steps down to more and more disappointment as you realize what your kids are not going to accomplish in life. She told me I can’t compare my son to the neighbor lady’s son down the street who’s going to college; I have to compare him to who he would have been if he had stayed with his birth parents. She said for sure he would have gotten a girl pregnant by now, would be hooked on drugs, or would be the meanest kid on the block. I understand what she’s saying and I know she’s right. But that doesn’t get me grandkids for Sunday dinner.

If I accept that the best I can hope for MAY be that my son is able to hold a steady job, do I still have to pour everything I have into him to get that outcome? What if I pour everything I have into him and I still don’t get even that outcome? I guess that the advantage of continuing on as we have is that we can say we did everything we could. Like any parent would do. And what if we give up, or ease off, and he could have done better if we hadn’t?

I think it’s only natural that you want to feel your heart, time, energy and money are not spent for nothing yet there are no guarantees in parenting. But parents of RAD kids have statistics going against them. They know of RAD kids’ negative outcomes despite other parents giving their all.

In the end, I have to decide to keep giving it my all. And I also have to salute all of us RAD parents who continue to give our all despite what we know. I think it’s because we are real parents and that’s what real parents do. Kudos to all of us.

Photo credit: www.wheatandtares.org/give-up-cat.jpg

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Crystal Perkins

Crystal is the content manager for Adoption.com. In her free time, she enjoys honing her outdoor photography skills, going on hikes, and hanging out with her husband.


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