Fear or Love? Parenting Developmentally Traumatized Children

Dear Parents,

One of my children was potty trained, in charge of the universe, and talking at 1.5 yrs. The other was 4 yrs. before either of those things happened. I was frightened by both.

One of my children was astute and controlling everything and anything in her worldview. The other was forever a baby, needing help with simple tasks through the adult years. I was frightened by both.

One of my children was cunning and shrewd–survival was the modus operandi. The other was gullible and passively uncooperative–survival was the modus operandi.  I was frightened by both.

One of my children used a 10″ butcher knife to threaten an adult step-brother and to carve a thin line on all the walls about waist high in every room in our house.  The other foreshadowed this years earlier by meandering toward me with a similar blade, which seemed longer than the little arm that was wielding it at the time. I was frightened by both.

My fear made me distant and guarded at the very times my children needed my love.  My children needed me close and my fear walled off my heart.  Survival mode took me over and I became more utilitarian than relational.  I didn’t think I could help it at the time.  As a matter of fact, there was a moment when I looked for the exits.  The ones I found were not really tenable–who would take care of my kids?  I just kept going like an emotionally volatile robot.

I’m telling you this to say, “Me, too.” I’m telling you this to say that I did eventually find a way out of survival mode.

Parents, I implore you, do what you can to find your heart. Go closer. Keep your skin in the game. Fear less. Engage more.”  Fear? Or Love?

That’s easy to say but it isn’t easy to do.  I know.  I truly know in my bones.

If this is happening to you, then you MUST do some things to get out of the rabbit hole of survival mode.  The number one most effective cure for fear that blocks engaged, loving parenting is… Ready?   Regular respite. 

I promise you that is the cure for blocked, guarded-hearted, fearful, survival mode parenting.

In my work, parents tell me all the time that they can’t afford “regular” respite.  I get it; it’s expensive.  And some parents really can’t.  Often though, I notice those same parents taking vacations to Hawaii or Mexico once a year.  I know they scraped up coupons, Groupons, deals, and stuff to make that happen, and I don’t for a second begrudge or judge anyone for desiring a tropical vacation.  I don’t.  What I am wanting you to consider is finding a way to get money to pay for regular respite in the same way you find the money to go on a vacation–beg, borrow, swap, co-op, trade, exchange, barter, and save cans.

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Center for Strengthening Relationships

Regular weekly respite will rejuvenate and sustain your emotional life with your children.  The excitement and relief of a vacation with your children may or may not last through the plane ride.  At some point during the vacation, you may even ask yourselves, “What in the @#$! were we thinking?”

Not all parents will regret their tropical vacation midway through.  Let me say this though; the parents who find a way to enjoy vacationing with their children are usually the same ones who found a way to get respite regularly.  “Regular respite” and “enjoying your children” are the main ingredients for making life force biscuits.  Mmmm delicious.

Hey, it’s the New Year, right?  While resolutions rarely survive the first two weeks of January, consider making a weekly respite goal and sticking with it for 21 days (that three weeks in case you weren’t counting).  By that time it will be a habit to save money each week for your life force–the Regular Respite Cure.

Love matters,


Upcoming Events Calendar and Things in Sacramento…

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.

Reminder: Strictly Social Autism Spectrum Disorder Night for Tweens (11 yrs – 16 yrs) at The Attach Place. January 19, 2018 from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm.  Gluten-free snacks provided. Please RSVP to Andrea@attachplace.com 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 group and 8 to 10 yrs group.  The groups will be $20 per session, CALVCB payment eligible, structured, and fun, too.  Groups will begin January 13th, 2018.  Contact Jen at Jen@attachplace.com for more details.

If you haven’t responded to the Capital Adoptive Family Alliance (California residents only) survey about needs you have for your family while raising adopted children, here is the linkFill it out now!  That is my way of encouraging everyone to answer the survey questions to the best of your ability. You can skip anything that you don’t want to answer.  This is a way to get funding channeled to adoptive parents.  Super special opportunity for all of us adoptive families who need financing for services.

UPCOMING ADOPTION SUPPORT GROUP facilitated by Ce Eshelman, LMFT:  Join our monthly Adoptive/Foster Parent Support Group on January 10th, 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.

FOLLOW US:  Twitter @lovingradkids and @Attachmenthelp or Facebook.


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