“He says hateful things,” reports a parent expressing vehemently that her child possesses a kind of deep badness. I get it. It feels like that when repeatedly a child’s face is screwed up in an angry fist of emotion and the words are dripping with ugliness no one ever wants to hear from the mouth of a child. Indeed it is nasty and forceful. It is shocking and unbelievable. From a different vantage point, I have to admit that it is a pretty good weapon to keep back a perceived threat. Unfortunately, the threat, in this case, is a parent trying to make a connection, hold a line, set a limit, provide guidance, and establish authority. All those well-meaning parental behaviors threaten the control, autonomy, and agency of a child who thinks he is 100% responsible for saving himself from past, present, and future harm.
When your child misinterprets your parental intentions as threatening, she balls up in a corner, runs wildly away, or fights like hell to stop you in your tracks. It feels confusing and distressing to parent a hurting child in those moments. Spitting fight may seem like the worst, but a child collapsing in a corner can be equally disconcerting to parent into wellness.
Your child from difficult beginnings of attachment and abuse trauma is actually afraid deep in the core of the mind/body complex. If the fear could talk, it might sound something like this, “I am the only one who can keep me alive…I must have control of every aspect of my life…No one can be trusted to care for me, but me…People hurt me, leave me, lie to me, scare me, humiliate me, and abandon me…No one is safe…I need to keep up my guard.”
What if cells in your body, feelings in your chest, and thoughts in your head pulsed with urgent, flashing, survival signals regardless of what reasonable things were being said to you from your parents? Could you trust anyone? Would you take a risk to surrender control? Might your ability to distinguish safe from unsafe become distorted? When all the fiber of your being says unsafe, would the circumstances of a home, parents, siblings, rules, expectations, and everyday challenges convince you that you no longer needed to be in control?
Parenting children from difficult beginnings takes a different kind of parent–a parent schooled in the ways of trauma and attachment. After the education, comes the coaching and support necessary to keep a parent on the path of healing the broken trust of their child. It is challenging to unlearn all a parent unconsciously absorbed from being parented in childhood. It is nearly impossible to ignore much of what might have been taught by educators about typical logic and control parenting strategies. It is akin to betrayal to shut out the advice from trauma uninformed family, friends, teachers, counselors and even neighbors.
Little by little, a parent of hurting children has to become a warrior parent lovingly persevering to mend the trust of the child in ways that others find culturally unacceptable. That is a part of the adoption journey, too.
Capital Adoptive Families Alliance 2018 CAFA Conference
Saturday, September 8, 2018
9:30-11:15 Understanding Your Child’s IEP. How to advocate before, during and after the meeting. Attorney CHRISTIAN M. KNOX of Ruderman & Knox Law firm brings over 20 years of experience working with and advocating for special needs children, including as a legal representative for Sacramento County foster children. She has also served as a Special Education Hearing Officer and as an attorney representing children and families in Special Education hearings throughout the state of California.
11:30-12:30 Legal Services of Northern California Liza Thantranon, Managing Attorney and Regional Counsel for Health, will present how to access mental health services including how to overcome common barriers and how Legal Services of Northern California can help.
12:30-1:15 Lunch provided
1:15-2:45 Stories from the Trenches–Adoptive Parents share their stories and answer questions about Transracial adoption, dealing with challenging behaviors, WRAP, challenging the school district, and more. Laura Stillmunkes, Kori Tomlin, and Abby Johnson
Location: River Oak for Children, 5445 Laurel Hills Dr. Sacramento Time: 9:00-9:30 a.m. check-in 9:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. conference
Cost: $25 a person includes lunch No childcare available
To register: www.capadoptfam.org Questions: firstname.lastname@example.org (916) 834-3700
Capital Adoptive Families Alliance was formed by adoptive parents in the Sacramento area to support one another through the challenges of childrearing, educate ourselves about the issues our children face, and advocate for them in finding needed services.
Working with Kids with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders And Other Neuro-Based Challenges: A training for caregivers, child welfare professionals, mental health providers, and school and community personnel
FASD is underdiagnosed and many adoptive parents have no idea their child may have it as other diagnoses have overlapping characteristics.
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Presented by Barb Clark, Master Trainer
Location: Sierra Forever Families
8928 Volunteer Lane, Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95826
Hosted by Sacramento County Community Champions Network and the North American Council on Adoptable Children
Trust-based Therapeutic Parenting Class for Parents of Children from Difficult Beginnings by Ce Eshelman, LMFT will be held on September 15th, 2018 from 10 am to 4 pm. Childcare provided for an additional fee. CALVCB will reimburse this training. 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. September 21st, 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.
UPCOMING ADOPTION SUPPORT GROUP facilitated by Ce Eshelman, LMFT: Click Here to join our monthly Adoptive/Foster Parent Support Group on September 12th, 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.