Because some of our children have Reactive Attachment Disorder measuring success is hard to do and that leaves us, as parents, frustrated. My wife sprang a leak. Water ran from both eyes, down her cheeks and onto her shirt. When that occurs in our home, you can bet RAD is involved. The flood happens after “the water” of anomalies associated with RAD begins to wash over “the dam” of unorthodox parenting tactics required to raise children with that disorder. Yesterday was a bad day. There was no big catastrophe. No one had been incarcerated or suspended from school. None of our children’s photos had been placed on a bulletin board at the post office. (Hey, that might not be an accomplishment at your house, but it certainly is at ours!) It was difficult to look past the events of the day to see overall progress. When it comes to Reactive Attachment Disorder measuring success is difficult.
Children with RAD are relentless. You couldn’t possibly understand the magnitude of that statement if you haven’t been intimately involved with someone afflicted by attachment disorders. Even after nine years of building, encouraging, reassuring, PROVING that this parent/child relationship is for keeps, some of our children still need to test that. Nothing had ever been permanent before they joined our family; and before that event, lies reigned. For our children who have Reactive Attachment Disorder measuring success is not an issue. They simply wait for relationship failures as inevitabilities.
With such pessimistic views from a person who has Reactive Attachment Disorder measuring success seems futile until we can help them to see a possibility for success.
Are you and I so different from my children? How many times has the sun come up in your life? Do you have any worries about it doing the same thing tomorrow? Okay, what if it went for several days without coming up; then began its normal cycle? Would anyone convince you that the sun could never hide its face again?
Children who suffer from RAD usually do so because of a history of inconsistent performance in care, that culminates in consistent failure of relationships. To them, that is normal. Lies are normal. The only thing abnormal to them about their current parent/child relationship is that it hasn’t failed; yet. “Okay… you continue to be correct. The sun keeps rising. But one of these days you will be wrong. Tell me a million times, that in your world, the sun always rises. I will tell you that in another world, the only world I have ever known, that doesn’t happen. Why do you think your experience is more valid than mine?” With such pessimistic views from a person who has Reactive Attachment Disorder measuring success seems futile until we can help them to see a possibility for success.
As long as current family relationships continue, children with RAD wait for consistent inconsistency to return. They even feel compelled to force a failure just for proof. No matter how futile their efforts, they will try to stop the sun in the sky, if only to prove the validity of their perspective, opinion, and experience.
We feel like we’ll never pass the exams because with Reactive Attachment Disorder measuring success seems futile until we reach major milestones.
That leaves parents like my wife and me exhausted. There is a reason I tell people that people who parent children with RAD need three tools: 1) Tylenol 2) caffeine 3) profanity (not necessarily in that order). When do we get to stop taking the exam that we take every day? Will we never pass the class, no matter how high we score on daily tests? When can we move on? If only the kids could accept the fact that if they would allow us to move on—spending less time studying the same tired subject—that there is so much more to learn; so much more happiness; so much more—Life. But no. The fatalism persists. Our children continue to test us. We feel like we’ll never pass the exams because with Reactive Attachment Disorder measuring success seems futile until we reach major milestones.
On days like my wife had yesterday, we all need to take a step back. Whatever your release is, use it. Hot bath? Turn on the jetted tub. Shopping spree? You’ve racked up a credit card before. You’ll do it again. Spend away. Screeching at the top of your lungs? Yeah, but do it into a pillow behind closed doors. The kids don’t need to hear it. After all, it’s not their fault they have attachment disorders. A stiff drink? I’ve never been a drinker, but how could I fault you? I might start tomorrow! Make it a double.
After your release, get a new measuring stick to evaluate where your child is. With Reactive Attachment Disorder measuring success is possible even from the earliest times. But only if we do it the right way. Don’t hold her up against the neighbors’ kids. Forget how school measures them. Don’t get me started about the well-meaning people at church… Measure against what might have been had you not come along. Will your child be on the street somewhere between 16 and 18? Will they find it necessary to sell “themselves” to survive at that age? Will they place seven of their own children in orphanages like the first mother of my daughters did? Maybe your child will struggle forever. Maybe they won’t. That’s one of the strange things with attachment disorders. You just never know. One thing is sure. If you can stick with it (understanding that sometimes parents simply can’t); if you can stand by them, difficult as it is, there is no doubt that their life will be better than it would have been without you. So there is your new measuring stick. Where would they have been without you? Where are they now? When your child has Reactive Attachment Disorder measuring success really is that easy. The primal development of parts of their brain renders more complicated methods of measurement useless.
I’m not a school administrator. I’m not your child’s teacher. I’m not the person who rolls their eyes while sitting on the pew behind you at church. I’m just a parent with several children who happen to suffer from attachment disorders. I know how to measure you. To tell you the truth, Mom and Dad, I think you’re doing a hell of a job.
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