Children who have been harmed by early neglect, abuse, and/or abandonment have dysregulated brains from the start. To heal a brain with complex trauma, parents have to be nearly always prepared to ebb and flow as loving role models and co-regulators. Here are 7-reasons why creating a THRIVING life for yourself matters to the quality of healing for your child from difficult beginnings.
- Parents who know how to take care of themselves physically with daily exercise are giving themselves a regular neuro-cascade of positive, naturally occurring, happy chemicals to THRIVE on. When a parent regularly exercises, the body releases chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins interact with the receptors in the brain that reduce the perception of pain. Dopamine and serotonin are impacted for a feeling of happiness, and stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol are decreased. When parents feel well-being and happiness, are less stressed, and have relief from aches and pains, children feel more stable and secure. Insecure children need that feeling every day to repair their toxic stress from childhood abuses. Bodies THRIVE on exercise. I’m not really telling you anything new, am I?
- Likewise, parents who eat balanced meals—carbs protein, fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals and water–of organic (when possible), fresh fruits, raw and cooked vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats are providing the best fuel for their bodies and their brains. They are sick less often and teach by example how to eat for a THRIVING, healthy lifestyle. I know you already know that.
- A parent who gets small doses of respite every day (cup of tea on the porch in quiet for 15 minutes) and longer respite weekly (date night, theater, dancing) is creating a THRIVING mindset from which to show love and compassion, over a parent who is exhausted, compassion weary, and always on parent duty 24/7 365. Preaching to the choir now.
- Sleep is restorative to the body, mind, spirit. THRIVING requires early to bed, early to rise sleep habits (unless of course there is an atypical schedule in which sleep is even more important for daily repair and resilience). 7-9 hours of sleep for the average adult is the sweet spot. Positive sleep hygiene is contagious, and children need rested parents. Duh.
- THRIVING is skin deep. Human skin is on average about 20 square feet. When we are touched, receptors called Pacinian Corpuscles just under that 20 sq. ft. are depressed, releasing a signal to the brain. Actually, the signal heads straight to an important nerve bundle called the vagus nerve, which has tendrils that spread out throughout the body to many internal organs. The heart is one which can be positively impacted in that touch slows it down and decreases blood pressure. Even hand-holding or gentle hugging results in decreased cortisol, our stress hormone. A gentle massage can release oxytocin, a neuropeptide, that promotes feelings of devotion, trust, and bonding. Loving touch lights up the same part of the brain as does sweet tastes and pleasant smells. Parents who touch and are touched THRIVE. Intuitively, this is pretty obvious, save all the fancy words.
- Playing is the antidote to adulting. While children need playtime with adults, adults need playtime for themselves to delight in the festivities of feeling child-like. Many adoptive parents are on their second round of parenting. A child-like spirit keeps a parent THRIVING well into older age.
- Mindfulness is the act of being present in the moment. Buddhists know through practice and science has shown that mindfulness increases the sense of well-being, restores the spirit, de-stresses the body, creates joyful connectedness, and focuses the mind on right now. Mindful parents are able to hold perspective when their children cannot. They personalize less the slings and arrows of raising children who are hurt and hurting. Mindfulness is the nectar of a THRIVING life with children from difficult beginnings. If only one can “remember to remember” to be mindful.
If you’ve got this down, congratulations for living a THRIVING life. That is no easy task and you should celebrate all your accomplishments and how you are significantly contributing to the healing of your traumatized child(ren) by thriving yourself. You are AH-MAZING!
If you are having just a little bit of trouble finding your way out of survival, give yourself a break. You are amazing, too. Raising hurting children is one of the hardest things you will ever do, and it is hard to THRIVE without serious support. Not to mention it helps to be taught effective therapeutic parenting skills, right?
Really, I should know. When I brought my children home, I couldn’t believe how exhausted, depleted, and resourceless I felt. I was truly just surviving. It took me quite a few years to find the answers to parenting my children, while not only saving myself but by becoming vibrant and alive with children from difficult beginnings—THRIVING. My mission is to share the way with parents everywhere.
You and your love matter,
Look what is coming at the end of August…August 28th to be exact–Love Matters Parenting Mastermind.
Love Matters Parenting Mastermind for a THRIVING Life with Children from Difficult Beginnings
UPCOMING In-Office ADOPTION SUPPORT GROUP facilitated by Ce Eshelman, LMFT: Adoptive Parent Support Group, August 14, 2019. Support Group is every 2nd Wednesday of every month from 6 pm to 8 pm online. Open to the public. Free childcare provided.
AUTISM Support Group: Monthly Strictly Social Autism Spectrum Disorder Night for Tweens (11 yrs – 16 yrs) at The Attach Place. Open to the public. NEW DAY: Every third Monday from 5:30 to 7pm. Gluten-free snacks provided. Please RSVP to Andrea@attachplace.com so we get enough snacks. This is a monthly social group for the youth; and caregivers will have an opportunity to connect, chat, and chill in a separate space. There will also be occasional fun field trips, like bowling, ice skating, roller skating, etc. A donation of $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.
GIVE A BOOK OF SUPPORT TO A FELLOW PARENT ON THE ADOPTION JOURNEY: 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. Buy from Amazon or order a discounted copy here.