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Your Attachment Style Impacts Parenting

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Wisdom For Adoptive Parents
Dear Parent,
I gave a little presentation the other day on attachment styles and how a parent’s style can positively or negatively impact a parent’s ability to raise a beautiful and challenging child.  When all was said and done, it seemed I focused too much on the negative.  I wish I could only focused on the positive.  I guess I believe that we often are so strength-based in our approaches to parent education and intervention that we don’t help parents see how they can change themselves to change their relationship with their hurting child.
When parents come into my office seeking help for their child, it is usually their attachment style that has gotten in the way of them being effective and loving with their child from difficult beginnings.  It is not the parent’s fault. It is a secret about parenting rarely brought into the light. Many of us are traumatized by our own experiences in childhood and life.  That trauma can interfere with our ability to weather the chronic maladaptive states of children who are also traumatized.
If you want to focus on the positive, then do attachment promoting parenting, therapeutic parenting–high nurture, high structure. Attunement, engagement, play, empathy, understanding and connection are the keys to healing attachment and trauma wounds in children and adults.  When you find you are unable to do those things on a regular basis, you probably need to look within at your own history of trauma and attachment.
Love matters,
Ce
The Attach Place Center
The next 8 hr. Trust Based Parent Training is scheduled forFebruary 20th and 27th from 12noon to 4pm.  $200 per couple.  Childcare available for $30 each day. To sign up email Jen@attachplace.com and she will register you.
 
Monthly Adoptive Parent Support Group is every secondWednesday of the month from 5:30pm to 7:30pm.  Group and Childcare are Free.
Look for Ce Eshelman’s Upcoming Book
 
Drowning With My Hair On Fire
Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents
 
Expected Publication Date: February 15, 2016
Drowning with My Hair On Fire is a compilation of over 175 daily support letters to parents of adoptive children and other children from difficult beginnings.  With a forward by Dave Ziegler, Ph.D. and a brief personal memoir, this publication is a response to blog-reader requests for a book of letters that can be easily returned to day after day, when inspiration is hard to find.
Praise for Drowning with My Hair On Fire
This woman saved our family. This book will save your sanity! After years (and many therapists) of getting it wrong, Ce Eshelman got our traumatized family on the right path to attachment, sanity, and big big love. Ce’s unique therapy is grounded in the latest brain research, her own struggles raising traumatized children, and work with hundreds of families like ours. Her stories, contained in this book, are our stories: full of pain, confusion, hope, faith, love and practical magic that really works.
Elaine Smith, Adoptive Mother
Ce’s daily blog has been a lifesaver, particularly when days are most dreary and hopeless.  Not only have her words of empathy proven to be priceless to our family, but I have often forwarded them on to others.  Such a comfort to feel understood, with no judgment.
Patty O’Hair, Adoptive Mother
In a real sense “Drowning with My Hair on Fire: Insanity Relief for Adoptive Parents” is a daily mediation of struggle, success, failure and getting up and trying again.  If that sounds like too much to subject yourself to then don’t adopt a challenging child.  And one more thing, shouldn’t we require prospective adoptive parents to read “Drowning with My Hair on Fire: Insanity Relief for Adoptive Parents” rather than another ‘All they need is love’ manual?
Dave Ziegler, Ph.D., founder of Jasper Mountain Center and author of many books on raising children from difficult beginnings.

Fear, Fear And More Fear

Whoow, back from Thangsgiving.  That was a nice long break, except for the fact that my heat has been off since Wednesday and it has been sub 55 degrees in my house for 5 days.   Burrrrr.  Chihuahuas are very shaky in a house with no heat.

Hope you had a lovely few days together.  I know holidays are not always jolly with healing children, so I am hoping that the calm of back to school routine has set in already.

I was talking with my son yesterday about why a classmate of his who also happens to come from difficult beginnings is suddenly spending a lot of time at our house.

Her mom is in cancer treatment, so we are helping out. But your friend doesn’t know, so you can’t tell her. 

“Oh,” he says, “I can see why she hasn’t been told.  Her mom probably doesn’t want her to feel the way I did when you had cancer.”

Suddenly feeling like I didn’t protect him enough five years ago, I fumble for words, Uh, yes, because she is different than you and not prepared to experience the fear.

“The terror, Mom. I was terrified the whole time,”  he emphasizes with air exclamation points.

I am sorry you were terrified for so long.  You were very brave.  You went to school every day, were beyond sweet to me, and held it all together until I got well.

“Yeah, then I had to go back to residential because I lost it when you got better,” he tells me as if I don’t know that is why he “lost it.”  

I don’t remember very much about that year, just that you were amazing.

“Me either,” he says. “Just the terror and the good times.  We had some good times that year, too. I remember those.”

Would you have wanted me to try and keep it from you so you wouldn’t have been so scared?

“That bald head probably would have given it away, Mom,” he says without humor. When I laugh, he sees the funny part and laughs, too.

“Let’s not do that again, okay?” he asks in a statement.

Okay deal, I promise, like that is possible, all the while hoping against all odds I am not lying right now.

Life is full of scary twists and turns.  Even after bringing them home from their difficult beginnings, we cannot always protect them from the parts of life that hurt.

Love Matters,

Ce Eshelman, LMFT

The Attach Place provides a monthly, no feeAdoptive Parent Support Group in Sacramento, every 2ndWednesday of each month.  Next group is December 9th at a NEW time–5:30 pm. Join us.  Child care provided.

The Attach Place offers an 8-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course every other month.  Our next course dates areDecember 5th and 12th, 2015. Sign-up online atwww.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.

Fear strikes at the core of children who were scared to

death from the beginning.

Sexting And Adopted Children

This morning I was met with giggling and sheepish eye darting when both of my young adult children with questionable prefrontal cortices were telling me about their 17-year-old overnight guest last weekend who shared nothing less than a graphic video of anal sex downloaded from the internet. My kids were intrigued and scandalized at the same time. Both anxiously talked over one another, telling their similar versions of the same story, and how they independently got up and went to their respective rooms as soon as they realized what they were seeing. If this is true (and it seemed so), their mutual response was actually unusual.

I dare say many attachment-challenged children with poor executive function (as well as plenty of securely attached children with developing executive function), depending on age, would also be at once intrigued and scandalized. Also, they may be compelled to engage, watch repeatedly, and share further in the form of acting out what was seen–sexting it out, and possibly getting into serious hot water taking it all too far.

I encourage you to talk with all of your kids starting in 6th grade about texting rules and family expectations. While you are at it, share the law and legal consequences of sexting. Twenty percent of middle-schoolers with cell phones have received sexts. If your third grader happens to have access to one, then beware. This sexting abuse is happening at younger and younger ages all the time.

When my daughter was 14-years-old, she borrowed my cell phone for a quick call to a friend that lasted only five or so minutes. Later in the evening, from that school friend, I received a follow-up sext of his erect penis, up close and way too naked. I have no idea what she sent possibly prompting his sext, and it didn’t matter. She was 14, and he was 18. He committed a crime. The rest is history.

If your child is exhibiting poor judgment in other areas, you can assume the cell phone will be no exception. Set boundaries and keep them. It is okay for safety purposes to invade the privacy of a minor. No child NEEDS a cell phone. Every child NEEDS protection from him/herself when continually behaving unreliably and irresponsibly.

Sometimes we have to lend our brain power to our children while theirs is still under functioning. That may go on throughout the teen years well into young adulthood.

Breathe, dear parents, and carry on.

Love Matters,
Ce Eshelman, LMFT

The Attach Place Logo The Attach Place provides a monthly, no fee Adoptive Parent Support Group in Sacramento, every 2nd Wednesday of each month. Next group is November 11th at a NEW time–5:30 pm. Join us.

The Attach Place offers an 8-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course every other month. Our next course dates are December 5th and 12th, 2015. 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.

Raising kids in the age of technology–yikes.

…And Justice For All–Restorative Justice Best for Adoptive Children

I know you all are doubtful that it is possible to raise attachment challenged, traumatized children without punishing them for their poor behavior. The real challenge is resisting the parental urge to punish. What you can do instead is get extremely good at restorative justice.

For your child, restorative justice is labor intensive, pocket-book painful, and shame free. It is just this simple. If you break it or steal it, you pay for it from your own resources–allowance, birthday money, savings, holiday money, earned income. If you waste my time, you owe me. No money? No problem. Pay your debt by dusting baseboards, pulling weeds, cleaning out the gutters, sweeping the patio, skimming the pool, walking the dog…there are a zillion ways to pay off the repair of damage done or time spent repairing, waiting, searching, taxi-ing, etc.

The world works according to the principles of restorative justice. If you park too long, you pay a price. If you back into another car, you pay to fix it. If you put a hole in the wall, you repair it after shopping and paying for spackle. If you do not show up to a therapy appointment, you have to pay anyway. If you do not show up for work, you are fired and do not collect a paycheck. Restorative justice is educational and excellent training for the future.

Those are the kinds of consequences that make sense, restore justice, require responsible action, and have zero emotional expenditures if you can manage to regulate.

I can kind of hear a cry from many of you parents: What if they won’t do it? If they won’t, then they don’t get the next thing they want until they do restore justice. It’s a kind of barless jail. When bail is paid, life goes back to normal. Just like in real life. This can be your child’s real life. Give it a shot and stop punishing poor behavior. Punishment teaches nothing positive. Restorative justice teaches fairness.

Love Matters,
Ce Eshelman, LMFT

The Attach Place Logo The Attach Place provides a monthly, no fee Adoptive Parent Support Group in Sacramento, every 2nd Wednesday of each month. Next group is November 11th at a NEW time–5:30 pm. Join us.

The Attach Place offers an 8-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course every other month. Our next course dates are December 5th and 12th, 2015. 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.

…and justice for all.

When You Come To The Edge Of All That You Know

Listen folks, our kids do not come with handbooks, for the attached ones or otherwise, so you are in for the ride of your life. Buckle up. It’s bumpy out here in parentland.

When you come to the edge of all that you know, jump. And, I don’t mean over the cliff. I mean jump into the kind of parenting that is not what you were raised with; the kind that scares you; the kind that has to face the fact that you are not, never have been, and never will be in control of your children.

Your child is on a path s/he is trying to figure out, too. Your parenting job is to help him find a middle ground: the path between cannon-balling into the deep end without a life preserver and diving head-long into the shallow end. Neither is a good choice for your attachment challenged, traumatized child. The middle way is the only way with hope for a better life. If you are having trouble figuring out what the middle way is, let me help. It’s for your child to have enough family time to learn how to swim.

So, what is that scary, non-controlling, love-based form of parenting that can support your child into the middle way of a productive life? It’s called non-traditional, therapeutic parenting that focuses on relationship over compliance, and love over fear.

Traditional parenting is full of cause and effect, logical consequences that make so much sense to attached people who were raised by biological parents. Therapeutic parenting puts logical parenting with imposing consequences away for another day when your traumatized child has a brain that can make sense of that kind of intervention. Traditional parenting registers one way with attachment challenged children–I am bad and my parents are bad. Therapeutic parenting registers a different way–I am safe and my parents are loving. Which model makes the most sense for a child who came into your life believing at the core that s/he is bad because s/he was abandoned and parents are not to be trusted or even worse, dangerous?

If nothing is working to guide your child toward the middle way, you might check your parenting, then jump into something new, something untried, something less power and control oriented. Are you putting compliance in front of everything else that matters–like love, relationship, safety? If so, you are the one who has the brain power to change, not your challenged child. Doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result is, you know, insanity. If you are feeling more and more insane, try 100% therapeutic parenting. Over time, I promise the middle way will seem more and more possible for your child. Swimming happens.

Love Matters,
Ce Eshelman, LMFT

Read about therapeutic parenting in a number of books. Beyond Consequences by Heather Forbes and Bryan Post is a start. There are many others.
The Attach Place Logo The Attach Place provides a monthly, no fee Adoptive Parent Support Group in Sacramento, every 2nd Wednesday of each month. Next group is November 11th at a NEW time–5:30 pm. Join us.

The Attach Place offers an 8-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course every other month. Our next course dates are December 5th and 12th, 2015. 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.

Toxic Stress Part 2

The only way to change the toxic stress that may be poisoning your family life is to get on board a huge parent self-care regimen for yourself, that I wrote about yesterday, and a daily felt safety diet for your child.

Felt Safety Diet:

  1. First and foremost: Well regulated parents who have an establishedSelf-care Regimen.
  2. A slow pace.  Pretend you live in a small sleepy town where no one feels the need to speed.  Then, don’t speed, rush, hustle, bustle, race, multi-task, or try to live three lives at once.
  3. Attune to your child’s needs for connection, engagement, attention, playfulness.  Play with your children.  Watching them play is not the same thing.
  4. Lose the concept of punishment and consequences.  Use structure and gentle correction instead.  If you use punishment and consequences, your child will fear you while continuing to do the things you don’t want them to do.
  5. Set the behavior bar low, so your child is successful.  Praise like crazy for achieving it. Setting the bar too high will cause behavior like giving up, throwing in the towel, defiance, opposition, or not even trying.
  6. Accept your child for who they actually are, rather than for who you wish they were.  This is a big one.  Stop working so hard to make them different.  Imagine someone doing that to you every day, all day.
  7. Never forget that your child probably has some kind of sensory integration issue because children from difficult beginnings usually do.  Give them a steady schedule (every two hours) of physicality, healthy food/snacks and big hydration.
  8. Finally, work very hard to be sure your child’s school is trauma informed, so your child isn’t inadvertently emotionally harmed.

And there you have it: a healing Felt Safety Diet.

Love Matters,

Ce Eshelman, LMFT

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 November 11that a NEW time–5:30 pm. Join us.  Online RSVP each month required when you need child care. 

The Attach Place offers an 8-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course every other month.  Our next course dates areDecember 5th and 12th, 2015. Sign-up by calling 916-403-0588 x1 or email attachplace@yahoo.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.

Take a look at your calendar.  If the word respite does not appear there, get to it.

Parenting 101

Our children do not cause our poor parenting behavior–yelling, demanding, demeaning, belittling, overpowering, physicality, threatening, arguing, meanness, etc.  Those behaviors belong to us and no amount of attachment challenged child behavior is responsible for our “low road” reactions.
 
Because this is true, I have mastered the art of the sincere apology.  I often owe that to both of my children.  Whenever I suggest that parents owe an apology to their children before expecting their children to sincerely apologize, I get push back like there is no tomorrow.  
 
“Absolutely not!” retorted one parent, when I asked if she had something to apologize for after she wrongly accused her daughter of something she had actually done herself.  “If she didn’t lie all the time, I wouldn’t have falsely accused her.”  Okay, but you did wrongly accuse her, and really you owe her a sincere apology for wronging her, right?  “No.”  Hmmmm.
 
If we expect our children to sincerely feel remorse and apologize for their wrongs, then we have to model it first.  Otherwise, we are blaming them for our behavior.  
 
Isn’t that what they often infuriatingly do to YOU?
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 October 14th at a NEW time–5:30 pm.Join us.  Online RSVP each month required when you need child care.
The Attach Place offers a 10-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course every other month.  Our next course dates are October 10th and 24th.  Child care provided for an extra fee. Sign-up by calling 916-403-0588 x1 or email attachplace@yahoo.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.

Being the grown-up is so hard sometimes.

The Mad Bad Persona

If your child has gotten into her fair share of trouble, in or around your home, you can bet The Mad Bad persona is hiding inside. 
 
That is not to say YOU don’t get to see The Mad Bad because YOU definitely do, right?  What you may not see is the psychological mechanism hidden beneath The Mad Bad.  
 
Children who come from difficult beginnings, often come to us scared, confused, and stuck on survival.  Survival brain makes a child focused on getting what he needs and wants at all cost.  That means sneaking, stealing, lying, and denying most of what they do. It may even seem like they don’t care when they are in trouble. That feigned lack of regard is part of the survival brain.  One cannot stop and worry about being in trouble when a tiger is in the rearview mirror (so to speak.)
 
Prolonged survival (in trouble) mode causes a child, who already thinks he was rejected, discarded, abandoned, and tortured by bio family for being bad, to start to experience himself as bad at the core–I am bad.  Once this happens the life course goes on autopilot being sad, feeling mad, and acting bad.
 
If YOU think your child feels she is bad inside, then your job as a parent is to crank up the positive feedback and reduce all the negative to zero.  Giving negative feedback (e.g. parental lecturing, expressed hopelessness, exasperation, despair, shaming, anger, punishment, rejection, isolation, scorn, disappointment, and disparaging comments) to The Mad Bad persona feeds the beast. The more YOU feed it, the bigger it grows.
 
Feed theThe Wounded Heart of your child.  Let The Mad Bad persona starve to death.
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 October 14th at a NEW time–5:30pm.Come join us.  Online RSVP each month required especially if you need child care.
The Attach Place offers a 10-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course every other month.  Our next course dates are October 10th and 24th.  Child care provided for an extra fee. Sign-up by calling 916-403-0588 x1 or email attachplace@yahoo.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.

Beware: The Mad Bad beast lives here.

High Road Parenting

High road parenting requires skills.  What are those?

  1. Ability to acknowledge your own feelings.
  2. Keeping the big picture in the foreground at all times–your child is developmentally delayed due to trauma.
  3. Facility with regulation techniques for yourself and your child.
  4. Patience to wait until your child is regulated before speaking.
  5. Patience to wait until you are regulated before speaking.
  6. Knowledge of therapeutic parenting practices.
  7. Consciously accessing respite, rest and relaxation on a regular basis.
  8. Willingness to forgive yourself when you drive off the high road into a ditch.
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 Octorber 14th at a NEW time–5:30pm.Come join us.  Online RSVP each month required especially if you need child care.
The Attach Place offers a 10-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course every other month.  Our next course dates are October 10th and 24th.  Child care provided for an extra fee. Sign-up by calling 916-403-0588 x1 or email attachplace@yahoo.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 fall off the high road into a ditch, take your foot off of the gas.

See the Light

Got phished and spent every free moment Thursday and Friday restoring my passwords and opening new bank accounts.   Missed Friday’s letter to YOU.  
 
I don’t think Dr. Wayne Dyer ever raised attachment challenged, traumatized children, but he could have done a great job if he lived by his own words:
 
See the light in others, and treat them as if that is all you see.
Give this a shot today.  Start by seeing the light in yourself first; then, move right along to your challenging child.  See if it makes a difference in your feelings and the behavior of your child.
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 dates are October 10th and 24th.  Child care provided for an extra fee. Sign-up online atwww.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.

Everyone has a light inside.  It is our blessing to see it.