This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Katharine Leslie seminar - Relationships

Sick of all this Katharine Leslie stuff yet? Sorry, but it was a 2 day seminar so had a ton of info crammed into it.

There are 3 types of relationships.
  1. Hierarchical (like boss-employee) - power is top down.
  2. Intimate (romantic or friendship) - power is shared
  3. Combination (parent-child) - power is top down and shared.
Parent Child relationships are different from most relationships, because (most of the time)
  • the parents and children do not have the option to "exit" the relationship and seek out alternatives.
  • they are highly complex because they are combine both hierarchical and intimate.
P-C Relationship Characteristics
  • Involuntary membership - you don't get a choice in parent or child (well, kind of in adoption on the parents' part, but once chosen you don't get to just leave if you feel like it)
  • Permanence
  • Long-term physical proximity -living together
  • Dependency (physical and emotional) - we effect each other's identity. Motherhood is a huge part of your identity and it is fragile. We are strongly effected by our child's behavior.
  • Huge inequality of Power.
So how do Relationship Functions work?
  1. Hierarchical (like boss-employee) - Exchange service for $$ (overt and concrete)
  2. Intimate (romantic or friendship) - Exchange service for service (correspondent)
  3. Combination (parent-child) - Exchange service for service (complimentary)
Relationships require a mutual satisfaction of needs.

Let me say that again.

Relationships require a mutual satisfaction of needs!

Correspondent vs Complimentary
How a relationship works is about how needs are mutually satisfied (reciprocity).

Correspondent reciprocity - similar or equal meeting of needs. For example, two friends might agree to pay for lunch on alternate Fridays. ("You pay this time, I'll get it next time.").
50% + 50% = 100%

Complementary reciprocity - acts/parts that complete each other and create a whole; different outcomes, but of equal and fair value to the individuals.
75% +25%=100% or 10%+90%=100%
For example, a parent feed, clothes, changes, plays with and does everything for the child. The child returns this with attaching behaviors such as smiling, hugs, and cooing. Both parent and child are content with this arrangement.
Additional example, parent gives child $20 every birthday. If child gives parent $20 for parent's birthday, the parent would probably find this offensive! However, if the child calls the parent and wishes parent "Happy Birthday!", then this would be considered equal and fair by the parent and child.

Relationships require a mutual satisfaction of needs - but it doesn't have to be equal.

If needs are not met then it is not a relationship! Instead it is draining, frustrating, and resentment building for the parent. The child is a bottomless pit and not learning how to have relationships. The child will NOT feel loved until he/she learns to give!

If the functioning of the P-C relationship goes wrong:
  • Superficially love and commit to self
  • Isolate from the pack
  • Feel/create entitlement
  • Act unpredictable, unstable, unsafe
  • More correspondent than complimentary (=competition for resources)
RAD kids, in other words, have a social relationship disability:
  • They do not reciprocate
  • They perceive the world as hostile
  • They do not know what to do with parents
  • Living with "families" is often terrifying to the and they are unable to embrace, assimilate, or mimic positive family interactions.
  • They have a greater number, and more intense, frequent, longer lasting, less tractable behavior problems than securely attached children
  • Even with the best of interventions not all weakness will be repaired nor capacities created

The P-C relationship is NOT WORKING! Guess where RAD kids fall in this? Yup! Incapable of maintaining relationships, yet the parents are being told all they (the children) need is love and they (the parents) should continue to provide for their child without expectations of return. If we do not expect our child to give back then we are victimizing them!

So what do we do and where do we start?

Children with attachment issues canNOT start with a complementary relationship. They must start with correspondent (50%/50%) and HOPE they can move to complementary.

We must teach the child how to reciprocate, and help them practice, practice, practice the giving behaviors (if they do not practice and rehearse, they will not learn). We must place equal value on both parents and child's needs (if parent's needs are not met they will feel burnt out and resentful toward the child which thwarts the therapeutic process).

Attachment-challenged children can't be expected to act on what they do not know. Coaching our children to reciprocate both in behavior and words prevents the replay of their old system (love=abuse) and encourages the development of a new healthier system. Non-attachment challenged children can learn from modeling (watching others do things). Attachment challenged children canNOT! They need to learn from rehearsal.

Radish: "You love V. (a sibling) best."
(reality: V is showing the most attachment behaviors)
Parent: "Who loves Mommy best? You could love me too. I have plenty of room."

Coach them how to do that! We have to reflect back to the child what his or her behavior evokes. A child not taught how to meet parental needs will likely lack the desire and skills to meet the needs of all others. As a result they will miss out on the benefits and gifts of a relationship.

Unconditional love is what gets women abused.
Unconditional caregiving can slowly develop into "falling in love with Mom."

Family-Friendly Behaviors (aka RRHAFTBA)
  • Shares Parents' Values
  • Elicits Positive Attention from Parents
  • Asks for Parental Help and Comfort
  • Is Caring and Thoughtful of Parent
  • Demonstrates Trust in Parent
  • Is Fun to Be Around
  • Expresses Love and Affection with the Parent
Next post - Building a Relationship!


GB's Mom said...

Good stuff! I wonder how much of it can be applied to a 24 year old RADish?

Tammy said...

This is great!! Thank you!!!

Unknown said...

I agree! This is good stuff. Keep sharing!

Unknown said... more on the coaching stuff....I kind of get the idea, but we are struggling with three..none RAD, just PTSD, not sure, and middle child syndrome, lol