So, have any of you noticed I've been a little stressed lately? Maybe just a smidge? I have been sitting and pondering what it is about THIS particular stage of parenting traumatized children which is sending me over the edge, as opposed to every other single, solitary day.
And why would I stop to think through those thoughts?
Because of ideas in Beyond Consequences (to which, everyone in the BC camp cheers and jumps up and down!).
Then again, how was it the rages in our home completely stopped after months and months practicing BC concepts with them?
Because of ideas smelling of Nancy Thomas, suggested by our therapist (to which, the NC side of the stadium goes WILD!). Our therapist knows Nancy Thomas personally, but is very clear she utilizes a vast array of approaches. Her entire practice is now moving to a Dan Hughes PACE model.
What pushed me to look more heavily at giving my children redirection physically - with things like chewing gum, etc.?
Because of a little gal named Dr. Karyn Purvis (to which, those TCU horned frogs whoop it up!).
I could go on. There are a LOT of resources out there. I guess it shouldn't surprise us how we can be very narrow-minded in parenting kids who have experienced trauma, when it comes to philosophies and approaches. We do the same thing as we decide whether or not to use cloth diapers, baby slings, sleep schedules, breast or bottle, etc. The reality is we ALL want to be great parents and do the best things for our children. Yet, it gets all muddled up when there are so many books and theories and approaches.
I will tell you all what I've always said when it comes to parenting: read it all with a lens of "Does this approach avidly work to avoid punitive punishments, shaming or physical restraint?" Most importantly, realize your child will grow and change and move forward and regress. The more tools you have, the better you can stay right there with them.
Last night, I spent some time being just very quiet.
See, I've been reflecting a lot lately. I've been angry lately. Fearful. Exhausted. Then I was reminded again - my child is still breathing. I haven't lost my child. THEY ARE STILL BREATHING, SO THERE IS STILL HOPE.
Yes, I knew that. I know all of it, but in the thick of life you forget. You have to remember. I really should tattoo it on my forehead so I can see it every morning.
Anywho, I'm rattling on to get to this next part! We all came home and started bedtime stuff. I smiled at my child who is really struggling right now (first time in a long time). Asked them to grab a pencil and paper and crawl up next to me. We were going to do a pop quiz!!
"Let's start with #1. The question is, 'When you consider letting me be in control and letting me be your mom, how does it make you feel?'"
"#2 - Why does it make you feel mad?"
2. beacuse I don't whant to listen. (followed by some discussion on how they don't want to be told what to do, and does still really think this plan will work for them)
"#3 - How many children do you know in the history of the world who actually pulled this off?"
"#4 - Do you still think it will work for you?"
4. no (then erases it)
"#5 - So, you're not really sure if it will work, but you keep doing it. What is your payoff?" (our attachment therapist is constantly helping them to verbalize their 'payoff')
5. so I get what I whant
"#6 - Well, so far your plan is not working. Why do you keep doing it?"
6. beacuse I think if I work very hard it will work
"#7 - Do you honestly believe you will be the first child in the history of the world to get this to work?"
"#8 - "Do you have something special no other kid in the whole history of the world has never had, which will make this work for you?"
"So, what is making this so scary for you? If you show me respect and love, what bad things will happen? You can list them all as your answer to #9."
Written very quickly: 9. you might leave me. (then writes another "you might" but can't come up with anything else)
So, we play, "Let's pretend I never leave you!" We discuss how life will look if they keep up this control game. Then we compare it with how life will look if they allow themselves to be brave enough to love me. Siblings started chiming in. I explained how their sibling is STILL nervous every single day they'll get left again, but wakes up every morning and decides to be brave just one more day ... one more time. It will continue to be very scary for a very long time, but is it worth the risk. We recapped the many, very difficult behaviors they have shared with us over the last ten months. Yet, through all of them (and they have been very, very, very, very NOT GREAT!) I am still here.
I reminded my child how I had heard about most of their choices before they came to live with us, and Dad and I still said, "We want to be their parents forever." The conversation carried on from there.
Today, this child has decided to be brave and try it out. They may have more days where it is just too frightening. Yet, last night we reached the core of this particular fear. It took little bits of everything, as well as a random "pop quiz" approach. And by writing back and forth, it was much less triggering and threatening. It was also kinda' fun.
I don't think parents need to stockpile a little parenting toolbox. I look at it more as an arsenal. It's a big task, worth a big effort. Sometimes you just have to get really quiet to remember this ... and get back to the point where you're willing to do it.