Adulthood Entangled

Dear Parent,

Being grown up is incredibly difficult for traumatized, attachment-challenged young people.  More than anything, my 20-year-old daughter wants my approval, so she omits, dodges, hedges, and lies to me when there is no reason to do so.  She doesn’t live at home, so there really is no reason to be so avoidant of letting me know what is going on in her life.  Well, except that she fears my disapproval, which preoccupies her mind a lot of the time.

Like it was in her childhood, she is easily dysregulated by life and by me.  I try to assure her that I will never stop loving her, but she fears the loss of my approval and, unfortunately, that happens sometimes.  She knows she takes the hard road, but won’t take my road under any circumstance.  For that, she pays a high price.  Sometimes she is homeless, starving, panicked, and desperate because of this propensity.

My daughter is entangled in her childhood narrative to the point where she cannot see herself through any other lens.  Her narrative is different than mine for her.  Hers is full of rejection, abandonment, fear, drama, loss, and hardship. Mine is full of constant attempts to save her from her childhood imprint to self-destruct, and to reject all things easy and loving.

I still want to save her from her poor choices, and she still wants me to approve of them. We are both entangled in our narratives.  I am working on facing the part of me that desperately wanted my sisters and my father to help me when I was her age. I am also working on the part of me that wanted to do it all on my terms.  I see myself in my daughter.  Perhaps I imprinted on her more than I think.  I want to give my daughter what I didn’t get, and sometimes I am blinded by that desire.  Maybe all she needs is my unconditional approval.  If I were free of my mother’s disapproval of me, perhaps I could give approval to her unconditionally.  I am working on that.

What do you have to work on to become clear about your parenting entanglements with your challenged child?  Everyone has a personal life narrative, and most of us are working the deficits out in the present.  Getting clear is a noble effort.  It is life changing.  It is worth the energy, and also the pain of psychic excavation.

The Attach Place

The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships

Love matters,


The next 8 hr. Trust Based Parent Training is scheduled for April 23rd and 30th from 12noon to 4pm.  $200 per couple.  Childcare available for $30 each day, second child $10 additional. To sign up email and she will register you.

 Monthly Adoptive Parent Support Group is every second Wednesday of the month from 5:30pm to 7:30pm.  Group and childcare are free.
Look for Ce’s Upcoming Bookpicture of cover

Drowning with My Hair On Fire is a compilation of over 175 daily support letters to parents of adoptive children and other children from difficult beginnings.  With a forward by Dave Ziegler, Ph.D. and a brief personal memoir, this publication is a response to blog-reader requests for a book of letters that can be easily returned to day after day, when inspiration is hard to find.
Praise for Drowning with My Hair On Fire
This woman saved our family. This book will save your sanity! After years (and many therapists) of getting it wrong, Ce Eshelman got our traumatized family on the right path to attachment, sanity, and big biglove. Ce’s unique therapy is grounded in the latest brain research, her own struggles raising traumatized children, and work with hundreds of families like ours. Her stories, contained in this book, are our stories: full of pain, confusion, hope, faith, love and practical magic that really works.
Elaine Smith, Adoptive MotherDrowning with My Hair on Fire Book Cover
Ce’s daily blog has been a lifesaver, particularly when days are most dreary and hopeless.  Not only have her words of empathy proven to be priceless to our family, but I have often forwarded them on to others.  Such a comfort to feel understood, with no judgment.
Patty O’Hair, Adoptive Mother
In a real sense “Drowning with My Hair on Fire: Insanity Relief for Adoptive Parents” is a daily mediation of struggle, success, failure and getting up and trying again.  If that sounds like too much to subject yourself to then don’t adopt a challenging child.  And one more thing, shouldn’t we require prospective adoptive parents to read “Drowning with My Hair on Fire: Insanity Relief for Adoptive Parents” rather than another ‘All they need is love’ manual?
Dave Ziegler, Ph.D., founder of Jasper Mountain Center and author of many books on raising children from difficult beginnings.


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