Archive for Parent Self Care

Toxic Stress

Even when you have all the information about your child’s traumatized brain, every bit of therapeutic parenting advice, tons of therapy, and book piles to stop every door in your house, something may still have a stranglehold on your entire family. When it gets right down to it, toxic stress is the real culprit.  Your traumatized child has it and you have it, too.

The only way to change the toxic stress that is poisoning your family life is to get on board a huge parent self-care regimen for yourself and a daily felt safety diet for your child.  Sounds easy, but you know it isn’t.  Also, this regimen and diet will be for life, so you have to embrace it every day in order to live an emotionally, toxin-free life.

Today’s post is about the most important thing in the world–your self-care. Tomorrow, felt safety.

Self-care Regimen

  1. First and foremost: get out of denial.  Your child has special needs.  You need to pay attention to your needs first.  Put your oxygen mask on before assisting your child.  
  2. Respite needs to be your priority after the basics–food, water, air, shelter, hugs.
  3. A trained childcare provider is a must and a miracle.  Get two or three; train them; and pay those folks as well as you can because they matter a lot.
  4. Schedule respite breaks for yourself every day on your calendar, in your phone, on your To Do list. Schedule respite like it is a hard to get dental appointment that you will be charged for if you miss it.
  5. Care about yourself.  Care for your body.  Care about what you eat. Care about your sleep. Care about your love life.  Care about your friendships.  Care about your garden, animals, hobbies, creativity, passions, missions. Yes, you can fit everything into your life.  If you cannot, then you do not have a healthy life.  Think about that.
  6. Think about this while you are at it.  Attachment challenged, traumatized children do not need a full schedule of organized sports, dance lessons, piano recitals, playdates, extravagantvacations, and the latest kid stuff.  They need at least one (and two would be better) well cared for, emotionally present parent.

If that is all they ever have, they will be rich beyond their wildest dreams.

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 11th at 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 are December 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.

Harassment For The Greater Good

It has been a long time since I wagged my index finger in your face.  Today is the day.  Take time for yourself. Have YOU made every effort to find respite for yourself that includes an overnight?
To quote a famous tennis shoe, Just do it.
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 August 12th at 6pm. Come join us.  Online RSVP each month required.   Child care provided.
The Attach Place is offering a weekend workshop for couples on July 18th and 19th, 9am to 5pm each day, to help you create the loving relationship you want and deserve.   Jennifer Olden, MFT and Certified Emotionally Focused Therapy Supervisor, will conduct a two-day Hold Me Tight Couples Workshop.  For more information, call Jennifer at The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships 916-403-0588, Ext 3.
The Attach Place offers a 10-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course  every other month.  Our next course begins August 22nd and August 29th, 10am to 3pm each day.  Child care provided for an extra fee. 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.

Respite is the key to long-term regulation.  Get some.

RIP Frank

When my husband surprised my then 78-year-old father-in-law with a sloppy, glistening black, lanky-legged, Lab-mix rescue puppy, Pop refused the gift on the spot–no thanks.  Reluctantly, I agreed to give the little terror a home.  The last thing I needed to add to my 4 and 5-year-old attachment challenged circus was an unruly, huge-pawed, “eventually”  100 lb. dog.  Little did I know at the time, that puppy would save my heart.  

Swinging from the chandeliers and somewhat incapable of giving or receiving love at the time, my kids were not exactly warm fuzzies waiting for hugs and kisses at the end of the day. Thank goodness I had Frank, unconditionally happy to see me and always game for a walk, a snuggle, or a nap.  I needed Frank to help keep my joy alive. 

Thirteen years later, I say goodbye to my furry friend, who let me cry countless tears into the soft folds of his neck and who cheered me up with shenanigans of his own.  When he let out his last breath today, I felt peace in his passing, a peacefulness he no longer felt in life.  

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 July 8th at 6pm. Come join us.  Online RSVP each month required.   Child care provided.
The Attach Place is offering a weekend workshop for couples on July 18th and 19th, 9am to 5pm each day, to help you create the loving relationship you want and deserve.   Jennifer Olden, MFT and Certified Emotionally Focused Therapy Supervisor, will conduct a two-day Hold Me Tight Couples Workshop.  For more information, call Jennifer at The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships 916-403-0588, Ext 3.
The Attach Place offers a 10-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course  every other month.  Our next course begins July 25th and August 1st, 10am to 3pm each day.  Child care provided for an extra fee. 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.

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RIP Frank

Self-Care

The words “self-care” must have concrete meaning to YOU.  Every day, what is your self-care?  If your answer is a big question mark, then know this, YOU will eventually break down under the constant stressors of raising a traumatized, attachment challenged child.  
 
Better proactive than reactive, right?  Don’t wait until you have a stress disease, depression, massive dysregulation, cancer, etc. to think about yourself.  Put that darned oxygen mask on!  YOU matter.
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 May 13th. Come join us.  Online RSVPeach month required.   Child care provided.
Next 10-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course  is planned for May 16th and May 23th, 10am to 3pm each day.  Child care provided for an extra fee. 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.

When you care for yourself, you care for your family.
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Codependence in Parent/Child Relationships

Relationships between parents and their traumatized children often resemble terribly destructive codependent relationships. Here are some tenets of codependence I want to share that may give you some insight into how YOU may be making your parenting situation worse.
 
Codependence:
 
  • Personalizing your child’s behavior, good or bad
  • Taking on a victim mentality by thinking your child owes you good behavior or your child’s behavior is about you
  • Using guilt or shame to get the behavior you want
  • Needing to be right
  • Only pretending or rarely listening to your child’s point of view
  • Dismissing as ridiculous or irrelevant your child’s feelings, thoughts and beliefs
  • Turning emotions into an art form through withdrawing, angry yelling, crying, or other dramatic emotional in or out bursts
  • Mocking your child by parroting back at your child an accusation or nasty tone of voice they have just slung at you
  • Crazy making communication–I am SO INCREDIBLY ANGRY you didn’t call when you got there like I told you to do! Nevermind, I don’t care.
  • Subtle and covert manipulations that can not easily be called out but are definitely felt by your child–passive aggressive statements, withholding eye contact or affection, giving the silent treatment, denial of wrong-doing, making all things seem like the child’s fault
  • Controlling, controlling, controlling is name of the daily game
 
Most of us have done some of these things once in a while because they are human behaviors.  If you are stuck in one or many, you need to take a long look at yourself. YOU may be making the situation in your home worse. Your behavior is not because of your child’s behavior.  Your behavior is your healthy or unhealthy reaction to it.
 
I think most of you know I learned all of this about 5 years into raising my attachment challenged, severely traumatized children.  I can’t believe I didn’t get my part for that long, but I just didn’t.  I can beat myself for what I didn’t know or I can applaud myself for finally seeing it.  Honestly, I vacillate.  
 
If you see yourself stuck in a codependent dance with your attachment challenged child, you will probably need some help climbing out. It’s okay. You are worth it. No shame.
 
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 May 13th. Come join us.  Online RSVPeach month required.   Child care provided.
Next 10-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course  is planned for May 16th and May 23th, 10am to 3pm each day.  Child care provided for an extra fee. 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.

Shame keeps us in the dark.  Where there is light, there is healing.

How Big Is the Problem?

A HUGE part of self-regulation for a parent is determining how big the problem you are looking at really is:
 
tiny       small      medium        LARGE
Your child leaves a backpack in the middle of the living room.  How big is this problem?     Hint:  tiny.
Your child leaves a backpack in the middle of the living room at least three times a week.  How big is the problem?   Hint:  tiny.
Your child leaves a backpack in the middle of the living room every day.  How big is the problem?   Hint:  small.   Yes, really!
You flip your lid every other day because your child leaves a backpack in the middle of the living room every day.
What is the problem?   Hint:  Your DYSREGULATION..
How big is the problem?   Hint:  Large.
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 April 8th. Come join us.  Online RSVPeach month required.   Child care provided.
Next 10-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course  is planned for May 16th and May 23th, 10am to 3pm each day.  Child care provided for an extra fee. Sign-up online at www.attachplace.com.
Next Hold Me Tight Couples Workshop by Robin Blair, LMFT at The Attach Place is planned for April 17th, 18th and 19th.
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.

Address tiny problems with regulated tiny responses.
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Love Matters Bootcamp Day 4–Hope

Love Matters Bootcamp–Day 4. There was once a time in my mothering life when “Despair” was my middle name.  I don’t know how I got through it.  Must have been some kind of divine intervention.  All I know is that I felt like an anvil was embedded in my chest and there was an awful vibration rattling me to the core.  I felt like I was going to explode, implode, or both; every day I had to white knuckle this horrible experience in a way that didn’t further harm my already traumatized children.  At that time I was sure my kids were never going to grow up and that I was going to combust before they made it to adulthood. I told you it was “Despair.”
 
Turns out I have a few characteristics hardwired into me that rose to the parenting occasion:  seriously die-hard work ethic, blind faith, and a belief in the healing power of love.  Together those things buoyed me when I was going under for the third time.  I didn’t even know enough to tell myself this, but it turns out it was playing in the background anyway: Just keep going, keep loving, and have faith in what you believe.  
 
If you find yourself living side-by-side your own version of “despair,” take heart. YOU are your child’s best hope for healing. Don’t personalize their trauma reactions. They do grow up. They are better for having YOU. Never give up. Your hard work pays off. YOU just have to wait for it.
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 April 8th. Come join us.  Online RSVP each month required.   Child care provided.
Next 10-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course  is planned for May 16th and May 23th, 10am to 3pm each day.  Child care provided for an extra fee. Sign-up online at www.attachplace.com.
Next Hold Me Tight Couples Workshop by Robin Blair, LMFT at The Attach Place is planned for April 17th, 18th and 19th.
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.

Hope springs eternal.
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Sick Days Have Silver Linings

Today was a sick day for me–migraine from jackhammer.com. I don’t know about you, but my sick days have silver linings.  Both of my children are angelic when I am sick.  They are helpful, loving, concerned, and attentive.  It is down right weird.  Makes me think I don’t ask for help often enough.  Apparently, I am too capable. Only under the anvil of a migraine (and cancer treatment) do I become a bed-bound-blob.  I think it scares the heck out of my kids, but it shapes them up in a heartbeat and they were trained by the best on how to care for people–me.
 
I think I did a pretty good job of modeling caregiving, because they are good at it.  Makes me think about staying in bed all day just for fun once in a while–not really.  It sure is nice to see their soft eyes looking in on me, their sweet tones of voice asking me if I need anything, and their persistent checking back.  I love that.  I love that they both have this wired into them.  
 
Modeling love (even when you don’t feel terribly inspired in the moment) matters–we reap what we sow.  
I read that somewhere.winkwink 2
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 April 8th. Come join us.  Online RSVP each month required.   Child care provided.
Next 10-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course  is planned for May 16th and May 23th, 10am to 3pm each day.  Child care provided for an extra fee. Sign-up online at www.attachplace.com.
Next Hold Me Tight Couples Workshop by Robin Blair, LMFT at The Attach Place is planned for April 17th, 18th and 19th.
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.

Look for the silver linings.  
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Trauma Messed With Your Child

If your child had trauma in the early years, then your child is still impacted by that trauma.  Trauma is hardwired into the brain.  Three specific things are altered by trauma:  your child’s perception of self, your child’s perception of others, and your child’s perception of the world.  That means that every experience, thought, and feeling your child has is filtered through the lens of traumatized perceptions. EVERY experience, thought and feeling!
 

Swearing boy

Go put your shoes on, Honey.
NO!
Here is your favorite snack.
I don’t want that!
I love you.
I hate you! And I will never love you! Why did you even adopt me!?!
 
I know YOU are tired and you find yourself quietly (or even loudly on stressful days) wanting your child to simply act normal, have normal responses to everyday life events, respond normally to interactions, and feel basically normal inside.
 
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Guess what: your child probably can’t. It isn’t on purpose. It’s not because of stubbornness. Opposition is not the root. And defiance is not that fun. Trauma messed with your child’s brain.
 
Being angry and grief-stricken is natural given the daily frustrations of parenting an attachment and abuse-traumatized child.  However, behaving with frustration and anger toward your child for a “brain thing” is harmful and negatively reinforcing to their already distorted perceptions.
 

self care

What can YOU do? 
Don your Big Lady panties (unless you prefer boxers.)
Get support.
Take care of yourself.
Respite is necessary.
Seek
counseling.
Hobbies work.         Weekly date night–a must.       Tea breaks with friends save sanity.       Parent helpers are angels on Earth.          Housekeepers and landscapers are peacekeepers.         Lightening-up helps.          Ask for what you need.      Take naps.  Take walks.  Take breaths.   Take heart. 
YOU are not alone.
 
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 April 8th. Come join us.  Online RSVP each month required.   Child care provided.
Next 10-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course  is planned for May 16th and May 23th, 10am to 3pm each day.  Child care provided for an extra fee. Sign-up online at www.attachplace.com.
Next Hold Me Tight Couples Workshop by Robin Blair, LMFT at The Attach Place is planned for April 17th, 18th and 19th.
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.

Forgive yourself your shortcomings and wipe the slate clean every day.
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Free Trust Based Adoptive Parent Support Group in Sacramento CA

Presenting a new monthly Trust-based Adoptive Parent Support Group in Sacramento. This is absolutely free with childcare provided.  Come join us.
 
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Love Matters,
Ce Eshelman, LMFT
The Attach Place Logo Next Trust-based Parent Course is planned for March 14th and March 15th, 10am to 3pm each day,  in a new back-to-back, two-day format. Save the dates.
Next Hold Me Tight Couples workshop by Robin Blair, LMFT at The Attach Place is planned for April 17th, 18th and 19th.
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.
Feel free to send this link to friends or family members who you would like to sign-up for Daily YOU Time: Wisdom for Adoptive Parents.

Come out in support of yourself.
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