I think that the understanding of children from hard places is at a point of moving from teams of horses to tractors. For me, this really shows in RAD books.
No Two Persons Ever Read the Same Book. Edmund Wilson
There is a story in my family that goes back several generations. It applies in a great way to today’s blog article on RAD books. My grandfather was leaving the employment of his in-laws to go back and take over the farm run by his own father, which was originally homesteaded by my father’s great grandfather. My dad was about eleven, so that put’s the timing at about 1948. It was far past the time to have a tractor on a farm of 120 acres. As my grandfather bought the tractor and brought it home, my great grandfather stuck to the ceiling. Then he refused to use the tractor. A team of horses had always served him fine. If his son wanted to play with a tractor, that was fine. But the old man of 68 years would continue to run the team. One day my grandfather had to be away. He insisted that there was work that needed to be done on the tractor. He took his father, made him sit on the seat, showed him the several levers and pedals, and left him to work. The story goes that they never got my great grandfather off the tractor and back behind a team again. I think that the understanding of children from hard places is at a point of moving from teams of horses to tractors. For me, this really shows in RAD books.
Some other parents swear by Attaching in Adoption as a must read when it comes to RAD books.
Our adoption agency had us choose from a list of books to fulfill adoption education requirements. The first time I ever heard about attachment issues was in one of the books I chose; a landmark book about attachment by Deborah D. Gray called Attaching in Adoption. During my first read, I wasn’t ready for what I saw; I couldn’t relate, so I didn’t pay enough attention. Later, when I started to see some things in my children, I remembered what I had read in Ms. Gray’s book and I returned to get the answers. While this book is considered by many to be one of the “go to” books on attachment for kids from trauma, it didn’t help me as much as I needed to be helped. Still, some other parents swear by Attaching in Adoption as a must read when it comes to RAD books.
If Dr. Keck had written RAD books saying children might not get over Reactive Attachment Disorder, he really did understand how bad things were.
All of us who have found help for our kids who suffer from Reactive Attachment Disorder have a favorite book or author who was the first one who offered us help in a way that we could understand and apply it. For me, it was the late Gregory C. Keck. When we were drowning, I was frantically looking for anything that would help. In one of my searches, I found reviews from one of Dr. Keck’s books; Adopting the Hurt Child. Most of the parent reviews were outstanding. A few of the professional reviews were critical, claiming that Adopting the Hurt Child didn’t offer enough hope. That’s what got my attention. I was sick-to-death of empty promises about how if I did this, or that, that my child would get over her difficulties. I wanted help from someone who understood how serious my daughter’s problems were. And if Dr. Keck had written RAD books saying she might not get over Reactive Attachment Disorder, he really did understand how bad things were. I bought a copy of Adopting the Hurt Child and read it in three days. Dr. Keck told me I wasn’t crazy. He reaffirmed my ill received pleadings to other therapists when I told them that my daughter was able to manipulate them. Then he explained in ways that I could understand and apply, methods that finally began to make a difference with Reactive Attachment Disorder. Maybe it’s kind of like a first love. To this day, there are things in that book that changed me, that changed my life, and that I will never forget; no matter how much better the love of my life was when I found her, compared to my first love. I also read Dr. Keck’s book, Parenting the Hurt Child. It was also one of the great RAD books. But where his first book took me from understanding nothing, to moving down the right road, his second book, while having more tools, didn’t take me as far in progression as the first, so I continued searching for and reading RAD books. Even so, last year, when I heard of the passing of Dr. Gregory C. Keck, I cried for two days. Dr. Keck gave me back my family.
I think all RAD books should have parts about using loss/grief boxes.
Soon after finding the RAD books by Dr. Keck, I purchased a copy of Debbie Riley’s brilliant book, Beneath the Mask. This book wasn’t particularly about Reactive Attachment Disorder, but adoption, in general. I have to say that Beneath the Mask was the book that helped me most to see adoption through the eyes of my children. Ms. Riley’s book is out of print, now, but the link above will take you to sources where you can buy used copies. My favorite part of the book described the use of “Loss Boxes.” It is a tool that we have used in our house with great success. It turns out that there is an earlier example of the same thing under a different name, presented by Sherrie Eldridge. She calls them “Grief Boxes.” Sherrie’s version is very Christian based and for those of you from evangelical backgrounds, you will love it. If you are a little bit uncomfortable with such approaches, the version in Beneath the Mask was not at all religious and didn’t have as much of a “Twelve Step” feel as I got from Sherrie Eldridge’s Grief Boxes. I think all RAD books should have parts about using loss/grief boxes.
Building the Bonds of Attachment is one of those RAD books that will have you feeling like the author has watched the inside of your own home from behind a one way mirror.
Another standby in the RAD books library is Daniel A. Hughes’ Building the Bonds of Attachment. In this book, Mr. Hughes uses a fictitious little girl named Katie through a very real-feeling life of a failed family, multiple failed foster placements, and finally on to a forever family who also struggles with Katie. Even though the parents have very serious doubts of if they can continue, the right therapists gets the parents moving down a path where they see marked improvement in their child and are able to see that the family and Katie will be OK. I liked that the book showed good therapists and bad ones. It really helped me to see the failed placements and how they affected the child. This gave me lots of understanding because I’m a person who can’t ever stop asking; “Why.” Building the Bonds of Attachment is one of those RAD books that will have you feeling like the author has watched the inside of your own home from behind a one way mirror.
The Boy Who was Raised as a Dog is a fascinating must-read for anyone who wants to understand the brain behind their child who has suffered trauma, and particularly for those who read RAD books to help their child.
Here’s another book that isn’t just about Reactive Attachment Disorder. Bruce D. Perry has “been there and done that” with children from trauma. He goes through first-hand experiences of everything from working with children from the infamous Branch Davidian catastrophe in Waco, Texas, to the story of the source for the name of his book; The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog and Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook. Dr. Perry uses extreme, real-life trauma situations and helps us understand, through these scenarios, how a brain mal-forms because of trauma. The Boy Who was Raised as a Dog is a fascinating must-read for anyone who wants to understand the brain behind their child who has suffered trauma, and particularly for those who read RAD books to help their child.
Some would say that Nancy Thomas’s book, When Love is not Enough is the be-all-end-all of RAD books.
Nancy Thomas is one of the RAD Therapists who comes up as highly endorsed by parents, perhaps more often than any other professional in comments for my blogs from RAD Parents. Her book, When Love is not Enough is considered by many to be a lifeline and lots of parents have said it should be required reading. Some would say that Nancy Thomas’s book, When Love is not Enough is the be-all-end-all of RAD books. There are those who have accused Ms. Thomas’s methods of being too harsh. But any parent who has worked with children who suffer from Reactive Attachment Disorder understands that parenting children who suffer from RAD requires methods that those who don’t understand would consider extreme. I think that the key is to be brutally consistent, without being brutal.
Dr. Purvis wouldn’t talk about RAD books and RAD kids.
Being brutally consistent without being brutal is the statement that brings me to my current favorite professional who works with children who suffer from Reactive Attachment Disorder. Karyn Purvis, from Texas Christian University, doesn’t do brutal. In fact, her methods are the kindest I have yet seen that still work with kids who suffer from RAD. Dr. Purvis wouldn’t talk about RAD books and RAD kids, though. She doesn’t get into the “Alphabet Soup” of labeling disorders. She just talks about “Children form Hard Places.” She doesn’t care if it’s a preemie infant, separated from her mother for weeks of intensive care, a child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, a child who witnessed the murder of a parent, or one who has been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder. Her methods are used with all children who come from hard places and the results I have seen are amazing. What I like most about Dr. Purvis’s methods is how I feel about myself when I use them. Karyn has taught me that I don’t need to be a devil to work with a child who has been through hell. Karyn Purvis’s book, The Connected Child: Bring Hope and Healing to Your Adoptive Family, is very good. But here’s the catch: It didn’t work for me without the videos offered by TCU. And the videos didn’t mean as much without the book. For me, the videos from the Healing Families Package all showed me in real-life settings, at training camps at TCU, how the methods in the book were applied and how they worked.
I’m going to make a huge confession about why it took me so long to study Dr. Purvis’s work. I was prejudice. While I consider myself a Christian, I don’t come from an evangelical background. Many would say that my beliefs allow too much for science and not enough for unshakeable faith. To be honest, I wanted my learning to be backed by scientific method, not by someone who told me how God would fix everything if I only believed. I didn’t want a “Christian University” or any other religious university selling me religion in the name of helping my child. When I finally decided to drop prejudice and study what I had been hearing about so much, I was fascinated. The science behind the methods developed by Karyn Purvis and TCU is state of the art. You don’t need to share Dr. Purvis’s religious beliefs to use her methods (though I have found that I believe far more like she does than I thought I would). You don’t even need to believe in God. These methods have been developed by scientific trial and observation. And from what I have seen, they work; at least they work in my family. I will continue to read RAD books. But until I find methods that allow me to work with as much kindness as possible, while showing better results than those I have found with those developed by Dr. Purvis and TCU, that is where I will point those who turn to me, asking for advice.
Some of the comments in last week’s blog led me to write about RAD books this week. In those comments there were mentions of other RAD books that I have not read. Here are those recommended by other parents: Rita Barber is reading the book, Stop Walking on Eggshells. Nancy Bledsoe Zwiers lists among her favorites, The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis, Beyond Consequences by Heather Forbes, and The Explosive Child by Ross Green. Rene’ Reinholtz Hobbie recommends Help for Billy by Heather Forbes and Boundaries by Henry Cloud. Faith Carroll says Boundaries should be required reading for everyone. So… there are some more RAD books to add to your list.
Please be kind while being truthful in your reviews in the comments section. Not all of these books work for everyone. Not all of them work for me. But different approaches work for different families for different reasons. Also remember the subtitle to this article: “No two persons ever read the same book.”
Please help out the other parents here, including myself, by leaving your recommendations for more RAD books in the comments section, below. Thanks! And have great week. You guys are RAD parents!
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