Archive for Respite for Parents

Harassment For The Greater Good

It has been a long time since I wagged my index finger in your face.  Today is the day.  Take time for yourself. Have YOU made every effort to find respite for yourself that includes an overnight?
To quote a famous tennis shoe, Just do it.
Love Matters,
Ce Eshelman, LMFT
The Attach Place Logo The Attach Place provides a monthly no fee Trust-based Adoptive Parent Support Group in Sacramento, every 2nd Wednesday of each month.  Next group is August 12th at 6pm. Come join us.  Online RSVP each month required.   Child care provided.
The Attach Place is offering a weekend workshop for couples on July 18th and 19th, 9am to 5pm each day, to help you create the loving relationship you want and deserve.   Jennifer Olden, MFT and Certified Emotionally Focused Therapy Supervisor, will conduct a two-day Hold Me Tight Couples Workshop.  For more information, call Jennifer at The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships 916-403-0588, Ext 3.
The Attach Place offers a 10-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course  every other month.  Our next course begins August 22nd and August 29th, 10am to 3pm each day.  Child care provided for an extra fee. Sign-up online at www.attachplace.com.
The Attach Place supports The Wounded Warrior Project by providing free neurofeedback to veterans.  Feel free to send a soldier our way for an assessment and 20 session course of treatment.
Feel free to send this link to friends or family members who you would like to receive Daily YOU Time: Wisdom for Adoptive Parents.

Respite is the key to long-term regulation.  Get some.

Dear Grandparents, Extended Family, and Friends

By request, these are some pointers for grandparents, extended family, respite providers and friends on how to support parents with attachment challenged children.
Dear Grandparents, extended family, and close friends:
I want you to know how much your love and support mean to me.  Without you, I would truly be on a very small island.  Here are some things recommended by an attachment therapist to help you understand and support the healing in our family.
Please understand:
My child has Complex Developmental Trauma.  That is a combination of trauma and attachment challenge from early childhood maltreatment and abandonment.  This means that my child and I are working at learning to have a balanced emotional life together and to heal from internalized negative messages about parents, self, and the world.
No matter how it seems, I love my child and sometimes it is more a love “commitment” than a love “feeling.”  Please don’t judge me for my frustration, anger, resentment, hurt, grief and wounded feelings. Yes, I did sign on the adoption line and I do take responsibility for my decision.  Still, the magnitude of the disruption to my sense of well-being is stunningly painful.
My child deserves love and kindness, and I do my best to provide that every minute.  Sometimes I fail. I feel bad about myself when that happens, so you don’t have to find a delicate way of telling me so. It would be really great if you noticed out loud to me the loving things I do for my child.
Since I love my child, it will not be helpful for you to tell me how awful my child is or how great my child is.  I see it all. I really just need you to listen when I need someone to talk to about “me,” when I am on my last nerve, or when I need to celebrate a small breakthrough.
Dysregulation (uncontrolled upset)  is my middle name.  My child’s Complex Developmental Trauma has an impact on me that even I have a hard time coming to terms with.  Offer me a listening ear, a cup of tea, a pedicure or a shoulder massage because I need a break more than I need anything.
You have no idea how much I really appreciate it when you are willing to care for my child, so I can rest and rejuvenate.  I think you are amazing. When you do give me respite, it is very important that you follow my stated rules with my child; otherwise, your kindness will backfire on me when my child comes home.  My child cannot have more fun or excitement with you than there is at home.  This will be hard for you, but my child needs to be regulated emotionally while in your care. Too much fun, excitement, change, and freedom will only serve to dysregulate and cause a split between my child and me. Please don’t think spoiling, paying extra close attention, listening to wild, made up stories or “siding” with my child against me will help my child.  It will destroy my child’s connection with me. Please do not do anything that will destroy my child’s connection with me.  I am working every second to create that connection and it only takes a couple of visits with a well-meaning, overly solicitous family member or friend to set my child’s attachment with me into reverse.
My child can be an angel in front of you.  Attachment challenge is usually between the child and the parents.  Others may never see it.  Please believe I am not making this up and I am not crazy. My child is not a victim of my inability to love.  My child has been a victim in the past and still feels that way inside.  I am not the creator of this world view.  I am the healer of this world view for my child, and it is hard for me to be balanced enough all the time to be healing.  That is my constant struggle. You can know that and empathize with my mission to save the heart of my child.
You may not know this, but traditional parenting doesn’t work with my child, so please don’t give me traditional parenting advice.  I don’t actually need advice, and I sure don’t need anyone to tell me that I need to give more consequences or rule with an iron fist. I am using a therapeutic parenting approach that I have learned can heal the complex trauma my child experiences.  Please trust me on this.
Finally, very few people want to spend time with my family right now.  I am isolated and lonely. Any time you lovingly reach out to me feels like water in a desert. I may not reach back very much, but that is because I am emotionally exhausted and I don’t want to feel like a burden to you.  Please check in with me. I need you. I love you. I appreciate you.
I hope this helps.
Love Matters,
Ce Eshelman, LMFT
The Attach Place Logo The Attach Place provides a monthly no fee Trust-based Adoptive Parent Support Group in Sacramento, every 2nd Wednesday of each month.  Next group is June 10th at 6pm. Come join us.  Online RSVP each month required.   Child care provided.
We had a fun first half of the 10-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course  over the weekend.  Looking forward to Day 2 on Saturday.  Next course–July 25th and August 1st, 10am to 3pm each day.  Child care provided for an extra fee. Sign-up online at www.attachplace.com.
The Attach Place supports The Wounded Warrior Project by providing free neurofeedback to veterans.  Feel free to send a soldier our way for an assessment and 20 session course of treatment.
Feel free to send this link to friends or family members who you would like to receive Daily YOU Time: Wisdom for Adoptive Parents.

When YOU helpers get it, we parents feel 10 tons 
lift from our shoulders.
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Trauma Messed With Your Child

If your child had trauma in the early years, then your child is still impacted by that trauma.  Trauma is hardwired into the brain.  Three specific things are altered by trauma:  your child’s perception of self, your child’s perception of others, and your child’s perception of the world.  That means that every experience, thought, and feeling your child has is filtered through the lens of traumatized perceptions. EVERY experience, thought and feeling!
 

Swearing boy

Go put your shoes on, Honey.
NO!
Here is your favorite snack.
I don’t want that!
I love you.
I hate you! And I will never love you! Why did you even adopt me!?!
 
I know YOU are tired and you find yourself quietly (or even loudly on stressful days) wanting your child to simply act normal, have normal responses to everyday life events, respond normally to interactions, and feel basically normal inside.
 
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Guess what: your child probably can’t. It isn’t on purpose. It’s not because of stubbornness. Opposition is not the root. And defiance is not that fun. Trauma messed with your child’s brain.
 
Being angry and grief-stricken is natural given the daily frustrations of parenting an attachment and abuse-traumatized child.  However, behaving with frustration and anger toward your child for a “brain thing” is harmful and negatively reinforcing to their already distorted perceptions.
 

self care

What can YOU do? 
Don your Big Lady panties (unless you prefer boxers.)
Get support.
Take care of yourself.
Respite is necessary.
Seek
counseling.
Hobbies work.         Weekly date night–a must.       Tea breaks with friends save sanity.       Parent helpers are angels on Earth.          Housekeepers and landscapers are peacekeepers.         Lightening-up helps.          Ask for what you need.      Take naps.  Take walks.  Take breaths.   Take heart. 
YOU are not alone.
 
Love Matters,
Ce Eshelman, LMFT
The Attach Place Logo The Attach Place provides a monthly no fee Trust-based Adoptive Parent Support Group in Sacramento, every 2nd Wednesday of each month.  Next group is April 8th. Come join us.  Online RSVP each month required.   Child care provided.
Next 10-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course  is planned for May 16th and May 23th, 10am to 3pm each day.  Child care provided for an extra fee. Sign-up online at www.attachplace.com.
Next Hold Me Tight Couples Workshop by Robin Blair, LMFT at The Attach Place is planned for April 17th, 18th and 19th.
The Attach Place supports The Wounded Warrior Project by providing free neurofeedback to veterans.  Feel free to send a soldier our way for an assessment and 20 session course of treatment.
Feel free to send this link to friends or family members who you would like to receive Daily YOU Time: Wisdom for Adoptive Parents.

Forgive yourself your shortcomings and wipe the slate clean every day.
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Because YOU Matter

All you can do is your best.  And, on any given day your best may wax or wane. Perfect parenting is not necessary, or even possible.  YOU are the best thing in the life of your child.  Forgive yourself the wane.
Love Matters,
Ce Eshelman, LMFT
The Attach Place Logo The Attach Place announces the beginning of our monthly no fee Trust-based Adoptive Parent Support Group in Sacramento, every 2nd Wednesday of each month.  Come join us.  Online RSVP each month required.   Child care provided.
Next Trust-based Parent Course is planned for March 14th and March 15th, 10am to 3pm each day,  in a new back-to-back, two-day format. Save the dates.
Next Hold Me Tight Couples Workshop by Robin Blair, LMFT at The Attach Place is planned for April 17th, 18th and 19th.
The Attach Place supports The Wounded Warrior Project by providing free neurofeedback to veterans.  Feel free to send a soldier our way for an assessment.
Feel free to send this link to friends or family members who you would like to receive Daily YOU Time: Wisdom for Adoptive Parents.

Don’t forget parents need play days, too.
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Trauma Brain Sandwich

Some kids who have Complex Developmental Trauma are white knuckling day and night.  Their need to manage every single little thing to keep themselves feeling safe takes the life, the joy, the play, the spontaneity right out of them.  Their need for the safety that control brings to them takes the life, the joy, the play, the spontaneity right out of YOU, too.
 
Upshot: Be super sure you are getting plenty of adult respite time to play, laugh, love, and be untethered so you are not having a steady Trauma Brain Sandwich diet. YOU will starve to death otherwise.  
Love Matters,
Ce Eshelman, LMFT
Trauma Brain Sandwiches are all carb, no protein.
The Attach Place Logo
The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships
Next Trust-based Parent Course is planned for March 28th and April 4th.  Save the date.
Next Hold Me Tight Couples workshop by Robin Blair, LMFT at The Attach Place is planned for April 17th, 18th and 19th.
The Attach Place supports The Wounded Warrior Project by providing free neurofeedback to veterans.  Feel free to send a soldier our way for an assessment.
Feel free to send this link to friends or family members who you would like to sign-up for Daily YOU Time: Wisdom for Adoptive Parents.

Straight No Chaser

No, I have not taken up drinking–much. Just wanted to inject a moment of harmony into your day (in-case you were having trouble finding some.)

Christmas Can Can

 

 

 

 

Straight No Chaser

The Attach Place

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

Love Matters,

Ce Eshelman, LMFT

Find some cheer every day of the year.

 

 

 

 

NOTE: If you are planning to sign up, please go ahead and do it because I think the space will end up being limited this time around. The next REVISED Trust-based Parent Training Course in Sacramento, CA is scheduled for January 24th and January 31st. Register here. If you have been through this course in the past, you will be getting significantly more hands on experience than ever before.

Please share freely. Your community of support can sign-up for their own Daily YOU Time email by clicking here.

 

Brains Are Impacted By Adoption

Daily YOU Time
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Love Matters
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Hello Fellow Parent,

If your child is adopted, his/her brain is NOT the same as a healthy, attached, birth child.  When we ascribe negative intention to our children’s behavior, we are sadly mistaken. Our children have special needs.  They need special dispensation regarding every day activities.  

For example:

When they take forever to get dressed…

When they will not accept your clothing choices…

When screaming is their response to “no…”

When they are charming when other’s say “no…”

When they are withdrawn and negative…

When they are outspoken and attention seeking…

When they are good at getting their way…

When they seem helpless and inadequate at every turn…

When they are controlling…

When they don’t take responsibility…

When they are irrational…

When they are black and white…

When they are clumsy…

When they insist on doing things their own way…

When they are clueless about the needs of others…

When they are self-centered…

When they hoard…

When they break everything they touch…

When they do not share…

When they share everything…

When they would go home with anyone…

When they will not let go of your hand, ever…

When they seem perpetually 2 years old…

When they act 27 years old…

…they need our understanding, compassion, and patience for their brain related specialness.

Love Matters, Ce

8/28/14 Our website is under construction right now, so you cannot get there from anywhere.  In a couple days, you can do the following if you like:
If you would like to receive daily “YOU Time” parent support emails and you have not yet signed up,  click here.
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Give your child compassion in the form of patience and understanding.  You will need to have YOU time to be able to do that.  Get it! You deserve it!  If your child has special needs, so do you.

 

Dear Desperate

Maybe I need to address this differently.
Dear Desperate,
I know that YOU are at your wits end.  YOU have tried everything.  Nothing, I mean, NOTHING works. Nothing! I know that sickening feeling in my bones–that exhausted, weary, battered feeling of despair and powerlessness that seeps into everything you say and do. It makes your work an escape, your marriage a war zone, your parenting a desperate nightmare you never wake up from.
This is the point where the rubber hits the road and you are challenged to stay in the game of life with your extremely emotionally disturbed and disturbing child.  You have been hit, bit, spat upon, and that isn’t even the half of it.  You have felt rage, the depth of which you never imagined. You have wanted to (or maybe you have) hit your precious child. You want to leave your marriage, kill yourself, run away forever, or you may even fantasize about taking the whole family over the side of the bridge together. You endlessly feel regret, focus on how it used to be, and wrestle with overwhelming tidal waves of guilt and shame, as you ruminate about life without your child.
Okay, maybe YOU haven’t experienced all of that, but plenty of it, right?  I could tell you to get help, but I know you already have. YOU are doing everything you can think of and nothing is working to make your child the one you thought you were adopting.  I know you thought that therapy and love and a good family was going to change that little brain that was harmed before s/he ever came home to YOU.  And now you think none of that works and none of it matters.
What can I say to YOU that will make it better?  Maybe nothing, except, “Me, too.”  YOU are not alone, but it sure feels like it.  I know this is going to seem impossible, but there are a lot of things that you have to do for YEARS before change occurs and, even then, your child is still likely going to need more parenting than one or two people can provide.
1. Get regular respite.  YOU cannot do this without space from your child for your own amygdala to get out of cascading neurochemical flooding.  I am talking about weekly childcare so you can go out; hire a daily in-home child-care worker to help with daily routines; find weekend respite once a month, etc.
2. Enlist family and neighbors to learn about complex developmental trauma and emotional dysregulation in children from difficult beginnings.  Family members can only be helpful if they are educated and informed.  When someone asks if they can help, say yes and get them up to speed on what YOU really need.
3. Face it:  YOU have to be a therapeutic parent.  YOU don’t get to be just a mom or just a dad. You actually must practice trust-based parenting strategies and sensory engagement consistently–consistently. Use life scripts. Use routines. Use correction strategies.  Do it over and over and over and over. It matters, but it takes years sometimes for the scripts to kick in and the strategies to make new neural pathways. That is what you are doing for your child–creating new neural pathways. That is hard work that requires playful engagement and repetition to the point of tears. Do it like a meditation.
4.  Get help for your marriage, if you still have one. Our children split their parents and parents turn on each other.  YOU cannot be in a relationship war and simultaneously stay out of parenting hell. You need more than a “pretend” united front. Get help to get more.
5. If you are feeling even half of what I wrote about above, then you are likely suffering from Post-Adoption Traumatic Stress. It is a REAL thing. You need help, or YOU might actually hurt someone.  At the very least, your child will not get better without you healing your knee-jerk reactions.  Those are trauma induced reactions.  YOU need to help yourself–put the oxygen mask on yourself first.  Consider: yoga, meditation, neurofeedback, medication, therapy, Brainspotting, EMDR.
 
6. If YOU really have done it all and you cannot find a way to live with the chaos, look for residential treatment.  This can help when YOU cannot give another ounce.  I know it feels like abandonment, but it isn’t.  YOU are always going to be the parent.  You will be engaged in treatment until your child comes back home to you.  It is not a magic bullet. Trust me on this.  But, it can help everyone’s trauma resolve and routines to be established.  There will be plenty of work left when your child returns home. Did I mention trusting me on this? Been there, too.
 
7. Be gentle on yourself and on your child.  Children are not like this to “mess” with YOU. They are like this when they have been harmed in the early years.  You are not like this because you want to “mess” with your child.  You are traumatized, too.  
 
This is hard, unfair, unreasonable, scary, and life altering, but YOU can do it.  I didn’t think I could, and I did.  So can YOU.
Love Matters,
The Attach Place Logo
Ce Eshelman, LMFT 
UPCOMING EVENTS:
  • Save the Date: Next Hold Me Tight Couples Weekend is September 19, 20 and 21, 2014.  Email for more information:  jennifer@attachplace.com.

The Freedom to Not Know

YOU are a fabulous human.  How do I know?  I know because YOU are raising a child/children from difficult beginnings and spending every ounce of your life-force doing it.  By definition, YOU are fabulous.  Bask in it.  YOU deserve the pat on the back, the adoration, the gold star, the love, and the gentleness of self-love.
 
I was probably 35-years-old before I had an epiphany that it was okay to say these three words: “I don’t know.” Thank goodness I found that humility in my 30s, because I adopted attachment challenged children in my 40s and I didn’t have a clue what to do. My previous well-constructed life was suddenly turned upside down and I was stunned to find out just how much I didn’t know.
 
If you follow my email blog YOU know I am prone to hyperbole (kind of to entertain YOU and kind of to entertain myself), but in this case I am not exaggerating.  My children came home to me at 2 and 3-years-old and within six-months they were swinging from the proverbial chandeliers and I had no idea what to do. 
 
There was no shame in my not knowing, just as there is no shame in YOU not knowing. It is an imperative that YOU get support from people who “get YOU.”  Other adoptive parents will.  Find a therapist with whom YOU can be real–“I feel like strangling him.” That is a feeling, NOT child abuse.  Actually strangling her IS child abuse.  Wanting to strangle him is reality. Admit it, and it will set YOU free. Find someone to talk to who gets it.  YOU need that to find your way to the other side–determination to be a safe, predictable, loving, and tenacious therapeutic parent.
 
Love Matters,
The Attach Place Logo
Ce Eshelman, LMFT 
Huge shout out to those of YOU who have given so generously to our Love Matters Scholarship Fund. YOU know who YOU are: Mary, Patti, Sharon, Mike, Ann, Greg, Sarah, Tom. 
 
UPCOMING EVENTS:

  • This upcoming weekend we are holding our Trust-based Parent Training.   Sign up here.
  • Save the Date: Next Hold Me Tight Couples Weekend is September 19, 20 and 21, 2014.  Email for more information:  jennifer@attachplace.com.
  • Save the Date: Next Trust-based Parent Training is September 27th and October 4th, 2014.  Email for more information: ce@attachplace.com.
Feel free to invite your friends and family to receive Daily YOU Time emails, too. Click here to sign them up.  All you need is an email address and first name.

Start Your Planning

Parents Really Need Naps

Parents Really Need Naps

Ladies and gentlemen, 

Start your planning.  Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are coming up soon. I challenge YOU to make arrangements for some delicious respite to celebrate being the fabulous parents that you are to the fabulous children that YOU love.
 
Yes, I know you savor those sweet homemade cards, thoughtful though obligatory pink carnations, breakfasts in bed that stay forever stained on the comforter, and gift cards from Sharper Image, but what about some serious alone time at a Day Spa or with your partner somewhere secluded or adventurous, sans children.
 
If Hallmark is going to give us parents two whole days, by all means, let’s take advantage of them. 
Yes you can make it happen, with a lot of planning and a bit of saving.  It just might be worth it.
This year we are sending the darlings away for an adventure with friends while we stay home for adult activities.  That is not costing us a cent. I love that.
 
Will YOU accept the challenge? I hope so.
The Attach Place Logo
Love and Respite Matter,
Ce Eshelman, LMFT