Archive for Shame

If Shame Is Your Middle Name

Dear Parents:

Shame has a tendency to well up around parenting attachment challenged, traumatized children.  These are the thoughts of shame: I’m not good enough.  I’m a bad parent.  I can’t do this.  I don’t feel loving. I’m angry all the time. I have no patience. I hate how I am. If you are swimming in shame, you may need some help finding your vulnerability and compassion for yourself.  Some of our children have difficulty accepting parenting and we have difficulty accepting that it isn’t our fault. The shame often doesn’t come directly from parenting. Likely it started in your childhood.  It just gets big and overwhelming when your own children are added to the mix.   It is never too late to reclaim your childhood.

If this sounds like you, check out a little reading.  Brene Brown is my favorite.  She has a blog (doesn’t everyone have a blog?) You can watch her on TED (not everyone has a TED Talk.)  Read her book. Go to a local workshop based on her work. Join a support group based on Daring Greatly (her book.) She is all the rage.  You could be part of a movement.  The no fear, no shame movement.

Get a little inspiration here:

You can go to therapy, buy a workbook, find a 12-step.  What you probably ought to avoid? Avoidance.

Love matters,


The Attach Place

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

The Attach Place Upcoming Events Calendar (Click Here)

RESERVE YOUR SPOT: Trust-based Therapeutic Parenting Class for Parents of Children from Difficult Beginnings by Ce Eshelman, LMFT will be held on June 9th, 2018 from 9 am to 4 pm.  childcare provided for an additional fee. Register here or on our website!

AUTISM Support Group:  Monthly Strictly Social Autism Spectrum Disorder Night for Tweens (11 yrs – 16 yrs) at The Attach Place. Open to the public. May 18th, 2018 from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm.  Gluten-free snacks provided. Please RSVP to so we get enough snacks, right? This is a  monthly social group for the children; and caregivers will have an opportunity to connect, chat, and chill in a separate space. A donation of $0.00 to $5.00 will be accepted for food and supervision if you are able, but please don’t let that be an attendance barrier because the group is FREE.  ASD kids need a social life and this is a great way to make it happen.

NEW!  5-Week FRIENDSHIP SOCIAL SKILLS IMPROV GROUPS FOR CHILDREN WITH DEVELOPMENTAL TRAUMA–5-7 yrs and 8-10 yrs. groups. The 5-wk group will be $125 total, CALVCB payment eligible, structured, and fun, too.  New groups will begin again in August 2018.  Click here for more information.

UPCOMING ADOPTION SUPPORT GROUP facilitated by Ce Eshelman, LMFT:  Click Here to join our monthly Adoptive/Foster Parent Support Group on June 13th, 2018! Open to all parents/caregivers at no cost. Support Group is every 2nd Wednesday of every month from 6 pm to 8 pm at 3336 Bradshaw Road, Ste 175, Sacramento, CA 95827.

GIVE MY BOOK FOR SUPPORT TO A FELLOW ADOPTION ADVENTURER: Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents by Ce Eshelman, LMFT.  Daily inspirational reading for those who sometimes find it hard to keep hope alive. There is hope for healing.  At Amazon or get a discounted copy here.

Mea Culpa

My blogs have been irregular for the past few weeks.  Mea culpa, I am sick with a common cold and in a work/bed/work/bed cycle. How a cold can take me down when my kids cannot is a mystery to me.  It is what it is.  Still, I am sorry to be hit and miss with YOU. Hope the rest of this makes sense.  My head is a big red balloon.
Recently I read a quote by Bryan Stevenson that struck a chord. “Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.” When I was a child it felt like my torso was really an ever expanding bucket filling up with shame.  Only recently, one of my colleagues helped me expel through EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is a trauma reduction therapy) the last drop of childhood shame from the bottom of that bucket.  Free at last.
My parents used shame freely.  They never realized their message was distorted inside of me.  I learned that I was shameful; the functions of my body were shameful; my human desires were shameful; and, my childhood lack of self-restraint was shameful. That didn’t leave much to feel good about except being smart and pleasing my parents, which I found I had a hard time wanting to do. I was an attachment challenged child raised with traditional parenting strategies–plenty of shame, smarting smacks across the face and butt, angry punishments, and a lot of disapproval.
As you blog readers know, I wielded my own traditional parenting at my children when I first adopted them.  I still grieve my ignorance.  
In my bones I have  known my troubled children were more than the worst things they had done (something my husband had trouble grasping.)  In my opinion this is one of the most loving things you can do as a parent: forgive your children every day for the worst things that they did yesterday. Your children are more than the worst things they have done, and your forgiveness will allow YOU to parent them with the end in mind, rather than from the troubled place you find them at any given moment. 
A question for YOU to ponder:  if my parents had known I was going to grow up into the person I am, do you think they would have spared the shame and bathed their child instead in love and acceptance?  I know for a fact carrying that shame bucket did not make me the person I am today.  I am who I am despite the heavy weight of it.
What kind of parenting does your hurting child deserve?
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 September 9th at 6pm. Come join us.  Online RSVP each month required only if you need child care.
The Attach Place offers a 10-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course  every other month.  Our next course begins in October.  Child care provided for an extra fee. Sign-up online at
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.

Shame and love are mutually exclusive.

It’s the Feet

Kelly, a parent in Amelia’s class, ran up to me after school saying, “Amelia’s boots are much too big. On Walk Days she can barely run and trips over her feet when she walks.”

Momentarily mortified, I responded, “Oh my Gosh. Thank you so much.” How could I have made such a horrible blunder, causing my daughter to suffer?

I picked up the boots and examined them. They were size 9. Hmmm. That’s my daughter’s exact size. I called Amelia over and put them on her feet. They fit perfectly. The problem wasn’t the boots. It was her feet. My sweet girl is uncoordinated.

She comes by it honestly. I remember in 5th grade playing baseball, up at bat, and hearing Mike Sample mocking me from the outfield. The teacher, Mr. Smart, yelled, “Yeah, she’s terrible at this game but you try spelling ‘adamant’ or doing algebra and you’ll be striking out every time, Buddy Boy.” (It was the 80s, so I think you could legally put a kid down without any ramifications, and some teachers really used this freedom.) I knew Mr. Smart was standing up for me, but I didn’t take it as a compliment. He was inadvertently highlighting my ineptness and the impact was a flood of shame.

In 7th grade I tried out for basketball. I was instructed to run the length of the court, then free throw the ball into the basket. I ran all the way down the court and shot the ball. Looking back, I saw a handful of kids and a few adults laughing. The coach yelled out to me, ‘You forgot to dribble.” Hot shame, again!

I see my daughter’s future in sports and want to sit her down for a little talk. This is what I want to say:

Darling, beloved, sweet pea, honey child, you SUCK at sports and you probably always will. It’s okay. You are good at a lot of things. Running and throwing a ball will probably never be on that list. I suck at sports, too, and no one ever told me. My parents said, ‘you can do anything you want to do, Jen’ and it was a lie. Because they exaggerated my overall greatness, the world had to tell me that I wasn’t good at certain things, namely playing athletic games. This was a much more painful experience than it would have been coming from them. So, dear, I am telling you the truth: If and when you are put in a position to hold a ball and run, assume that some terrible humiliation is about to occur. So, don’t space out. Let me repeat this: Do Not Space Out. You will need all of your faculties in this moment. And then, and this is the important thing, if you fall, or lose the game, or miss the ball, or strike out, do it with pride. Because here’s the thing: If you can be the worst at something and still know your awesomeness, that will take you a lot farther in life than always needing to win. So if you are last in a race, then just stroll along thinking, ‘That’s right, I am terrible at running. It’s not the boots. It’s the feet.’

The Attach Place  Center for Strengthening Relationships

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

It dawns on me that I really need to say that to the little Jen still living inside. As a mother, I can make sure Amelia knows her awesomeness, and trust that her feet have a trajectory of their own.

As always, parenting with heart in the real world,

Jennifer Olden, LMFT and Mother