The lessons I learned with more dated programs were hard/helpful lessons. They could only bring our family so far. Now I know I can have more and I want it!
I am a Parent from a Hard Place. I am a Parent from Trauma.
It isn’t that I didn’t have anything else to write about Reactive Attachment Disorder. In fact, after writing almost fifty articles ranging from RAD Advocating to RAD Wars, my list still included more than sixty titles that I intended to write over the next sixty-plus weeks. That all changed just over a week ago after I attended a simulcast called Empowered to Connect, delivered by Dr. Karyn Purvis and her team at Texas Christian University. During that two-day event, I learned some hard/helpful lessons that have shown me that my family can move beyond the plateau we aspired to. We had finally decided that all we wanted was to live a reasonable family life, even with the troubles that came with children we brought from traumatic histories and adopted into our home. But now I have learned we can have more. And I want it.
These new teachings and methods are hard/helpful lessons.
I quickly learned that we have been trying way too hard to compartmentalize the difficulties that come with some of our children that have been traumatized. In fact, I really did laugh out loud when Teresa Price commented on my Facebook page that she prefers Dr. Purvis’s terminology to using the “Alphabet Soup” of issues our children face. It is so much easier to attack the roots of what has affected all of these children from hard places, rather than trying to specifically identify each and every classification. I love the new things I am learning. These new teachings and methods are hard/helpful lessons. You see, I am having trouble letting go of some survival skills that I honed while coming through trauma of my own; trauma delivered to me by some of my children.
To be successful in helping my children to advance far beyond where I thought they could, as others who have experienced these newer methods, I need to put a lot of time and effort into learning hard/helpful lessons.
Some have called Dr. Purvis the Child Whisperer. Watching her training videos and how she has success with the most troubled and difficult of children, I would say that “Child Whisperer” is a very correct description and appropriate nickname for her. But there is something much more important to me. You see, Dr. Karyn is not available to whisper to my children. I am going to need to do that. To be successful in helping my children to advance far beyond where I thought they could, as others who have experienced these newer methods, I need to put a lot of time and effort into learning hard/helpful lessons.
I’m exhausted from the trauma along with the constant effort I have put into learning hard/helpful lessons.
But I am angry. I’m frustrated. And yes… I’m scared. So many professionals have given me bad information. I have been hurt and my children have been hurt too many times when I have followed bad or even incomplete advice. It’s hard for me to trust. Sometimes I feel like I can only trust myself. You see, I am a parent from a hard place. I have experienced trauma brought on by some of my children who came from trauma. Members of my family were hurt and there was nothing I could do. Sometimes I truly wondered if I, my wife, or one of my other children would die at the hands of one of my children. That history has affected me in many ways (none for the better). I’m tired. No. I’m exhausted from the trauma along with the constant effort I have put into learning hard/helpful lessons.
The lessons I learned with more dated programs were hard/helpful lessons. But they could only bring our family so far.
The requirement for me to take care of myself, even while I am inadequate, has made it hard for me to listen to those who really are capable of helping me and who are trustworthy. I have been let down too many times in the past. I won’t give up my control by putting a therapist and her program in charge easily. It will take lots of time and effort for the trustworthy and capable therapist to get me there. You see, I have learned to take control because I had to. It was the only choice I had to survive. Adequate or not, I have succeeded. Well, at least I’m still alive. The lessons I learned with more dated programs were hard/helpful lessons. But they could only bring our family so far. Still, I worry about gambling what we have gained for a chance to progress further.
Pulling back from communities was not a hard/helpful lesson. It was just hard.
I’m a survivor, and that was part of the problem. My control was my survival skill. Many people didn’t like the way I parented and controlled my environment. They told me it was ugly and inappropriate. They told me I was a bad parent. They demand that I do better. Sometimes I hated them. I didn’t care if they thought I was bad. I didn’t care if they rejected or ostracized me. I decided that I really didn’t like them anyway. Since they didn’t think I was good enough to be with them, I proved to them that they were right. Pulling back from communities was not a hard/helpful lesson. It was just hard.
I’d yell at the teachers of my children when I knew they were wrong. I’d threaten the principle with his job and even his very existence. I would metaphorically elevate both my middle fingers toward the people at church who judged me and how I felt I was forced to parent. I wasn’t good enough for them, either. So… I wanted to offend them. It was all in a hope that they would just leave me alone. You see, I am a parent from a hard place. I am a parent from trauma. I need to be in control because that is the only way I’m safe. Control is my survival skill and I will survive!
The methods developed at Texas Christian University are hard/helpful lessons, but those who teach them are as patient with traumatized parents as they are with traumatized children.
Dr. Karyn Purvis understands parents like me. She doesn’t dispute the fact that my environment has made me what I am. She doesn’t think I’m a bad parent. She doesn’t think I’m unworthy of her or of society. She honors me as a survivor. She empathizes with my situation as a parent of trauma; a parent from a hard place. She reveres the fact that I have developed highly tuned survival skills in dealing with my uniquely damaged family. We have survived and she is impressed with that fact because many in my situation don’t. Many parents from hard places; parents of trauma, simply don’t make it. The methods developed at Texas Christian University are hard/helpful lessons, but those who teach them are as patient with traumatized parents as they are with traumatized children.
They know that the hard/helpful lessons I learned in the past taught me to scare people away when they threatened me.
Those who have made newer advancements in treating children from hard places understand that I have survived by taking charge; that I protect myself by being hypervigilant and that I shield myself by refusing to care what others say or think. They know that the hard/helpful lessons I learned in the past taught me to scare people away when they threatened me. They realize that if I can’t scare away those who threaten me, I am prone to hurt them; because I am a parent from a hard place. I am a parent from trauma.
Dr. Purvis understands all of those things about me. She wants me to learn a better way to parent my children who came from hard places. She knows that I’ll resist but she knows that I can do it and she is confident in her abilities to help me to learn and perform the hard/helpful lessons. She knows there are opportune times to teach me and times when I am not in a position to learn. During those times she metaphorically holds me. She looks into my eyes and asks me if I am afraid. Yes. Yes. I am afraid. And I am angry. And… I’m hungry. Then the parent whisperer will tell me that I’m a good parent. She’ll stroke my arm and head while she lets me take a break from learning as she waives her hand and sends someone to find a dollar and buy me a lemonade. (Sorry, that’s an inside joke for those who attended her recent seminar/simulcast).
To me, Karyn Purvis is the Parent Whisperer and she is willing to do what it takes for us to learn the hard/helpful lessons.
This is a professional who gets it. This is a teacher who understands parents from hard places. This is a woman who values parents from trauma. And she will teach us that we can do more than survive. She will show us how to thrive. After all, to me, Karyn Purvis is the Parent Whisperer and she is willing to do what it takes for us to learn the hard/helpful lessons.
Take me, Dr. Purvis. Teach me. Lead me. Mold me. Show me a better way. Help me return to everyday life in society by telling me that I am good, that I am worthy, and that the years of work to heal are worth it. It will take some time because it’s difficult for me to trust and to give up my survival skills. I am a parent from a hard place. I am a parent from trauma.
The thing I like most about Dr. Purvis’s methods is that they instinctively seem to understand that it takes a parent from a hard place to raise a child from a hard place. It almost seems that it is by providence that our traumatized children placed us in those hard places, so that we might learn the path of hard/helpful lessons ourselves before trying to lead them down it. Now Boot Camp is over. We have been broken down until we feel like we are nothing. And now we can learn the rest of those hard/helpful lessons that await us. We can be built up better, stronger, and worthy to give our lives in the service of those who need us.
God bless you, Karyn Purvis. Thank you for teaching the hard/helpful lessons. Thank you for being a Parent Whisperer.
Often, readers receive as much help from other readers in the comments section as they do from the blog article, itself. Please be generous with your thoughts and experiences in the comments section. There are lots of people who need what you have to share. This is your chance to help them.
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Any methods or principles shared in this article are based on my interpretation of teachings, along with what I have learned from studying resources provided by Dr. Karyn Purvis and/or Texas Christian University. While I believe that this article conforms to principles that they have developed, neither Dr. Purvis nor Texas Christian University have approved or endorsed this article. I, alone take full responsibility for my writings. However, I am not a professional therapist. I am not a licensed social worker. I’m just a dad from a hard place, who likes to share with other parents from hard places. I believe that the best advice I can give you is to read the book The Connected Child and to use that along with the DVDs developed by Texas Christian University for working with Children from Hard Places. “Children from Hard Places” is a term that was coined by Dr. Purvis and it has been used extensively by Texas Christian University in describing their materials for helping children from traumatic histories. As a parent from a hard place, good luck in your journey. Please help me if you find me injured and lying along the path. I promise to do the same for you.