Monday, July 14, 2008

Have you hugged your 2x4 today?

I'm a tree hugger, for sure. However, another mom I know gave new meaning to the phrase when she talked about hugging her child who struggles with their past trauma (it's like hugging a tree - literally!). You see, hugs from Mom are highly threatening to our these kids. They are way too scary and intimate, so they stiffen up.

Tonight, one of my little wonders was trying so hard to stay mad at me. It must have been so exhausting - because, let's face it, I'm delightful!

So, it's time to get hugs before bed and this particular child is nowhere to be found. Already snug in bed (yeah, like that would EVER happen on any other occasion).

I go in for my hug, bringing in some humor to boot. I got the longest goose neck approach I've ever seen in my life. It was humorous, although it also broke my heart, knowing that my child's stress level was peaked, which meant that they were oozing fear and I was seen as a threat.

But, as I'm standing at the foot of the loft bed, trying to decide if I feel more like giggling or crying, I thought of my friend.

Forget trees. I'm now hugging a 2x4.

Wednesday will be this child's birthday. Struggling kids do not always do well with holidays and birthdays. Things are different on those days, which heightens fear, which heightens stress. They are painfully uncomfortable having special things done for them because they don't feel they deserve it (even though they will get very excited and beg for weeks to do something special on these days!). Of course, we're GOING to do special things for them, and then just love them through the fear. I have no idea what to expect. My husband was gone for four days this past month, and it was meltdown city when he returned. Luckily, I always prepare for the worst, so I can be pleasantly surprised if it's even a tiny bit better than that.

Despite it, I wouldn't trade my 2x4 for anything!!


Zen Master said...

Thanks for coming by and being brave enough to leave a comment. I don't bite, well most of the time. lol

I found Brenda's site through you after your comment. Thank you.

I didn't realize their were blogs about RAD.

I've often wondered why the kids go off the deep end right after we have the best time ever. I felt it was like they were trying to sabotage everything. I guess in a way it's true. They tell me they don't know why they do it.

I have a hard time forcing hugs and stuff on my kids. I didn't know what to do, so I decided to let them come to me (based on my own experiences as a child). I would guess it works because they come all the time now.

It's so hard to know what's right isn't it?

Christine said...

I have to look at my whole child. Sometimes they make it easy, "I don't want to hug you!" So, I offer a high five. If they don't want that, I just say goodnight with my words and literally just pat their bed lovingly.

However, they will many times lean in for a hug (gooseneck and all!). They don't mind receiving MY hug, but just can't bring themselves to give it back. That's fine - I don't say anything about it - just let them accept my affection in a way that keeps them feeling safe.

I listen to their voice, look at their facial expression and body language, and go from there. They have permission to tell me "no," always. Sometimes they are feeling intense fear and stress. Other times, they are working really hard at showing their anger, but will laugh at silliness, etc.

It's a dance. You do your best to take turns leading and not step on one another's toes. :)

Family Gregg said...

"Yes"....and I got a splinter.

DJ Dual Core said...

I like to think that the hugs that pass between me and my RAD kids build a little trust. Even with bad feelings in the air the hug itself is never hurtful.

Cammie said...


Not that it is my business, but I am wondering...

Are your RAD kids the ones you are taking care of for the summer? Is RAD because of their happenings at home? Is this environmental or hereditary?

Christine said...

Cammie, yes, my latest two additions both have RAD. RAD comes from trauma, so any child can end up with RAD. Here are some potential causes of RAD:

* Neglect
* Abuse
* Separation from the primary caregiver
* Changes in the primary caregiver (orphanage care or not one primary adult in their life)
* Frequent moves and/or placements
* Traumatic experiences
* Maternal depression
* Maternal addiction - drugs or alcohol
* Undiagnosed, painful illness such as colic, ear infections, etc.
* Lack of attunement between mother and child
* Young or inexperienced mother with poor parenting skills

Another resource:

Creme Brule said...

I came by this awesome blog via Leslie's blog. I'm enjoying this a lot. I often wonder why my AD girl has problems with "reentry"--anytime I'm away, she's away, Dad's away, we have a special day, the carpet cleaner comes (just kidding--we lost the carpet a long time ago.) Anyway, it's nice to read about things that are part of my world.