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Energize Times Three

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Wisdom For Adoptive Parents
Dear Parent,
Raising traumatized, attachment challenged children is stressful and you must take care of your energy systems in order not to fall prey to the ravages of depletion.  When I am depleted, I eat too much, sleep too little, and snap at my children.  I am even known to yell and be unreasonable. During these times, I am exhausted and I cry a lot, too. Imagine that.
There are three basic human energy systems:
Physical, body
Emotional, mood
Mental, problem-solving
When your body is depleted, you must nurture and rest it.  Sleep is ever so important to all energy systems, especially your body.  Go to bed early, sleep at least 8 hours, and get up early. Exercise moderately and eat clean foods (that means unprocessed and fresh.)  This is all obvious and yet extremely hard to put first in your life when your child is screaming like a banshee.  Yes, it is hard.  Do it anyway.
You can lift your mood by shifting your posture, directing your eyes more upward than downward, getting sunlight first thing in the morning, and engaging in physical or intellectual activities to give your emotions a distracted relief.  Check-out your thinking to make sure you aren’t telling yourself horror stories about the future of your child.  Nothing sours a mood more than catastrophizing the “what ifs” for 10 years from now.
Thinking, pondering and obsessing about something over and over is like putting yourself in a hamster cage and running the wheel all day and all night.  You are wearing your mental capacity out.  Give your mind a break by putting on some music and get your jiggy on (okay I don’t know what that means either) or call a friend for a gabfest over tea. I read an article about Caffeinated Napping that touted drinking a cup of coffee just before a 20-minute nap; the theory being that the coffee would kick in just as you wake to make you feel truly energized. Who knew?  I’ve been doing that for years, but I really don’t recommend it. A brisk walk with the dog is always a welcome mental refresher. Oxygen to the brain is a good thing.
If you aren’t taking care of your energy systems, you are not going to be taking good care of your child.  Oh, one last thing: stay away from the blue light of screens for at least four hours before bedtime and you might find you sleep like a puppy all cozied up under the covers.
Love matters,
Ce
The next 8 hr. Trust Based Parent Training is scheduled for February 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 second Wednesday 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.

Teenagers From The GitGo

I feel like I have been raising teenagers for 19 years.   Because traumatized children are on survival mode, they seem to have teenager-like behaviors from the gitgo.  Yep, I said “Gitgo.”  I looked it up.  It is still a word to Webster.  
 
Today, I woke my son for school and thought the same thing I have thought every day for all these years: He needs to clean this disgusting room.  That is an hysterical repetitive thought process. How can I possibly care about his room for 16+ years?  HE obviously doesn’t NEED a clean room.  The good news is I didn’t say anything. If I said something every time I thought it my children would hate me.
 
Parents don’t have to parent everything.  If we did, our children would be either passively resistant or aggressively resistant 24/7. By the actual teen years, we would be totally tuned out and without influence in our children’s lives.
 
Relationship is everything.  Clean rooms, not so much.
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.

Cheers to maintaining your influence for your child’s lifetime.
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When To Give Advice by Jennifer Olden, LMFT

My dad encouraged me always to confront a company that has unfairly charged me for a service poorly rendered.  He recommended that my approach be friendly and assertive, and when/if I don’t get results, ask to talk to the manager.  He believed that it’s better to use a carrot than a stick, and that the phrase, “Can you help me?” pulls for support instead of defense.

Great advice.

I consciously ask for advice from the wise ones in the world, and I always have some good advice just ready to be shared with the world.

Go ahead: ask me anything.

So believe me when I say it’s unfortunate that advice has serious limitations.

For example, when I work with couples, if one person is speaking from a deeply vulnerable place and the other gets nervous and wants to solve the problem by giving advice, it inevitably backfires.

The person sharing wants connection, closeness, understanding; to be seen and accepted even for this part, the part that doesn’t make it out into the world very often.

The person sharing wants to be vulnerable and loved in the exact same moment.

That is the ultimate redemption, and can be the antidote to past historical relationship trauma.  It’s the big taco and the whole enchilada.

The person listening wants closeness, too.  They love and care for their partner, and suspect (mistakenly) that it’s the vulnerability blocking the connection.  They’ve got some advice, and it might even be fantastic advice.   It could be the perfect fix.   But that’s not the point.

Advice won’t help until the emotional connection is made.   Everyone needs to feel loved, accepted, cherished, understood.   Then and only then is it time for advice.

First, though, you build the emotional bank account.  First, you reflect and understand and love and share a similar vulnerability.  Then you give advice.  Your partner is much more likely to be open and ready to respond if they feel heard and understood.  And if you’re patient enough to really understand the struggle, who knows?  Your advice might even change.

Couples Blog

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

Love Strong Love Long,

Jennifer Olden, LMFT

Promises

Yesterday I asked my 5-year-old son to promise me that when he grows up, he will not go to war.

He looked at me with his big brown eyes and said , “I pwomise, Mommy.  I won’t go to war.”

I come from a long line of pacifist men, so I’m hoping his word is good.  It’s one of the scariest things about having a son.

My mom was sitting nearby and she said, “And Amelia.  Make Amelia promise.” And even though I’m a feminist to the core, I really have zero fears about my daughter enlisting.

This is why:  I play a game to get Josh to eat his vegetables, where the broccoli is held with one hand and labeled a kitten, and the other hand is the monster. The monster chases the kitten into my son’s mouth, and his mouth is the refuge. He is distracted with fun so he will eat his veggies. But this silly game is upsetting to my 8-year-old daughter, because she feels sorry for the kitten and the monster scares her.   She has to leave the dinner table.  That child is not going to enlist.  Not even in a parallel universe.

But Josh loves to make sticks into guns, and shoot his bow and arrow at the cat. When he was 3 years old, he was poking a snail with a stick and I scolded, “Don’t do that.  It hurts the snail.”

He asked, “Can I at least pee on it?”

He was born aggressive, and with a loving family it will turn into assertiveness and drive.  But I am scared that when he’s 18 and his prefrontal lobes aren’t developed and consequences are abstractions and death is a myth and being a hero is a worthy goal, he could just amble on down to the armed forces center on a bright sunny day and sign his life away.  Nooooooooooooo.

Josh, promise me.  Promise me.  No war.

“I pwomise, Mommy.”

The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

Parenting with heart,

Jennifer Olden, LMFT

Tax Day

Be careful what you are ignoring when you follow advice from parent educators to “ignore” your child’s negative behavior. Sometimes we parents get confused what that means.  It doesn’t mean ignore the child.  It means ignore the behavior.  Some attachment challenged children have a multitude of negative behaviors. You could end up ignoring your child at regular intervals all day every day.  
 
If YOU had a bad habit of mumbling your words or talking a little too loud or too much or chewing vigorously at dinner and your beloved ignored you whenever it happened, how might you feel?
 
Ignored?
Hurt?
Rejected?
Shamed?
Angered?
Furious?
Reactive?
Rebellious?
Oppositional?
Bitter?
Unloved?
Disengaged?
Done!
 
Enough said, right?
Attachment challenged children are not usually capable of discerning exactly what you are ignoring.  They often take it to mean YOU are “mean” and they are bad.  
 
A better approach with soft loving eyes sounds like this:  
“I love you and yelling when you are angry hurts my ears.  
“I love you and chew with your mouth closed, Sweetie Pie.”  
“I love you and I couldn’t hear what you said.  Try again please.”  
 
Yep, say those sentences 15 times a day instead of ignoring your child 15 times a day.  Could be life changing.
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.
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.

Dear Parents: I love YOU and I need you to 
take better care of yourselves.
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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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Communication by Robin Blair, LMFT

Most couples that come into my office for therapy tell me they need help with communication, and they are right. Just not in the way they are implying when they tell me “he never listens to me,” or “all she ever does is nag me.” I know, when I am working with them I am going to move them from a defensive, self-protective style of communication to one of vulnerability and intimacy. But, for the first couple of sessions I let them tell me their complaints about communication. It is very insightful to me, I learn all about their hidden fears and desires in those complaints and they don’t even know they are revealing them. It is my job to point that part out.

So why do so many couples come in with the same complaint? Think about it, you wake up in the morning talking to your spouse, you spend the morning getting ready talking to your spouse, you probably text, talk, or Email throughout the day. You probably call on your way home, check in with each other after being away all day, spend the evening divvying up who is going to do what, maybe sit, down after the kids are down and enjoy some quite time together, go to bed together hopefully with enough energy to have sex, staying in some kind of contact all night with a foot or hand, then waking up and starting all over. On special nights you go out and enjoy each other’s company and on busy weeks you feel the pressure of not spending time together. This is the norm for a lot of relationships, and on some level you know that, so when it is not happening like this, you can tell something is wrong.

This is where couples get stuck. Someone might ask their partner “why aren’t you spending time with me”? This partner might feel attacked, hearing he or she is doing something wrong, actually want to stay away from those attacks, perpetuating the problem. Another person might say “We aren’t having sex enough.” That partner might think “why would we have sex when you don’t even want to spend time with me”? Again, perpetuating the cycle. So, it is easy to see where communication could break down and even turn into a blaming, attacking, defending, withdrawing cycle, and why couples come in telling me they are having problems communicating.

So what can you do about this? You can start by making time to have this discussion and talk about how you miss being in contact with the other person. You could also purchase the book Hold Me Tight: seven conversations for a lifetime of love by Sue Johnson and have those conversations. I have had many clients tell me this book changed their marriage. I promote the book so much I offer a full weekend workshop on it. Finally, if it feels like you are just too stuck to do this on your own, make an appointment with an EFT couple’s therapist.

Couples Blog

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

Live Long Live Strong,

Robin Blair, LMFT

Certified EFT Therapist

Gratitude For YOU

A group of about 12 parents attended our Trust-based Parent Support Group tonight and by the end of the night I felt my heart swell with love. Honestly, big, big LOVE.  
 
I am not sure many would adopt children if they knew beforehand the actual truth: the truth about the crap shoot they were undertaking and the incredible sacrifice they would be making. Frankly, I am pretty sure I would have taken a pass had I known. (Shhhhh…my children don’t know and they never will.)  My parenting journey was…well…challenging for me, the woman who wanted to be “Mom” all of her life and tried so hard but couldn’t be one without adoption.  
 
Tonight, I was thanked by a parent for whatever difficulty I went through to get to the place where my experience could be helpful to adoptive parents.  She truly meant that.  It may not seem like it in this blog, but I am rather shy about receiving such praise. I made a joke to shake it off, but while I was doing that I felt a wave of loving gratitude wash over me. And this is what unfolded: I really love YOU parents.  I really do.  I hope YOU can feel it in these emails and in every contact you have with me.  I am humbled before YOU.
heart
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.

YOU are loved and AWESOME.

 

Still Face

Back when attachment was not considered “a thing,” there was a pocket of researchers studying the parent/infant bond.  Their work spawned the attachment revolution in parenting, brain science, relationship building, and treatment of mental health problems. I won’t bore you with the details, except to say that one of the most salient experiments conducted was called the “Still Face.”  To me, the experiment has a painfully cruel aspect to it; that said, we learned a lot about how a child is affected by the facial expression of the mother.  It holds for fathers, too, but those experiments (to my knowledge) have not been done.  I truly wonder why.
 
When YOU are stressed out, angry, tired, or loving too long from your mind (rather than the part of your mind we call heart), your face betrays you to your attachment challenged child.  Your face becomes incongruent, your eyes lose their twinkle, and your voice lacks the warmth that the glow of love gives it. YOU may be going through the motions of parenting, but a “Still Face” can be detected just below the surface.
 
Your child can feel via the conduit of your facial expressions and eyes that YOU are not emotionally present, which immediately sends a signal to that child that you are unsafe, unloving, cold–hateful even.  Attachment panic will likely spring up and emotionally dysregulated behavior will not be far behind.  
 
YOU cannot fake it for very long before your attachment challenged child takes it in as something bad about him/her and something bad about YOU.
 
If YOU are chronically faking, get help for yourself.  Find a confidante, a church member, another adoptive parent, support group or a therapist for support.  YOU are doing one of the hardest things on earth–parenting a traumatized child.  Island, rock, martyr are not synonyms for mother or father.
 
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.

Empathy is truly the answer.
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Flipping Your Lid

Watch this 2.5 minute video.  Commit the model to memory and teach it to your children.  It is one of the best ways to help them understand regulation and dysregulation–flipping their lids and breathing them right back on.
Dan Siegel on the Hand Model of Brain
 
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.

Handy model of the brain–catchy.
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