Katharine changes her hairstyle almost as often as she does shoes (and she loooves shoes!). It was my job at the seminar to check people in as they arrived. A woman walked up and I asked her her name.
Me: "Last name?"
KL: "Katharine Leslie"
She sweetly mentioned that she'd changed her hair color and style since the last seminar. I'm still a dork.
Secure attachment requires the development of object permanence and constancy.
There are three basic steps to this process:
- Building Safety. Safety for kids of trauma comes from routines and security (which can be things like holding and alarms on the door). Parents MUST proved for basic needs (food, shelter, warmth) routinely and predictably. You cannot attach or love if you do not feel safe.
- Falling in Love. Dopamine is the brain chemical that makes everything seem more fun and interesting. We cannot fall in love without positive fun and interaction. Think about this. You would not walk up to someone and say, "Hey, what's your name? Hi Larry, you're going to be my new husband. You will live in my house, take my last name, and do all the chores on this honey-do list. You are not allowed to talk about your other life. Your wife was mean and she does not love you like I do. You love me and I love you.... say it! Say you love me!" ------------------------- Of course you wouldn't do this! You get to know each other. You date. You have fun, conversations, and play together.
- Claiming and Belonging. This cannot come first! You need the other steps to come first. You also must honor the child's choice to be a member of the family or not and shift roles accordingly.
- Provide a "structure and rehabilitation" environment (vs. "love and affection" environment).
- Meet the child's basic needs for food, shelter and warmth.
- Provide affection in response to the child's demonstration of affection, but only if it's appropriate.
- Draw attention to the "giving and taking" that is part of every interaction.
- Give and allow consequences that will evoke caring behaviors.
"The Luxury Package" Accommodation
Basic package plus "family perks"
- All things that children don't need but come out of the goodness of a parent's heart (ex. extra-curricular activities, chauffeur services, vacations, parties, dinners out).
- To qualify for this package a child has to mutually satisfy parental needs in some ways, most of the time.
A child can "upgrade" by performing certain family-friendly behaviors.
How do you know whether or not your child has given enough to deserve an upgrade and is ready to be part of the family?
Close your eyes and picture a child. How do you feel when you look at this child? Do you feel happy and loving? Do you feel warmth?Any time you wonder if your child is ready, close your eyes and picture your child. Does the thought of your child make you feel warm and happy. A joy to your heart as opposed to sadness, emptiness, rejection, or fear.
Until the child makes you feel this way he or she is not ready to be part of the family. It cannot be earned or forced. It is a feeling.
A relationship is defined as a MUTUAL satisfaction of needs.
- There is no mutual well-being if a parent is providing luxury accommodations and the child is not earning the perks.
- The child will be momentarily happy (as long as the perks keep coming), but the parent will not.
- The ramifications to your child's development and the parent-child relationship go much deeper than happiness.
- The parent receives little or no positive response from the child and often the child is neglectful of and abusive to the parent. Without either one's needs being met, and unable to "exit" the relationship, there can be little to no feelings of attachment (leaving resentment and apathy).
- The parent's natural frustrations, disappointments, feelings of being used up, resentments, and demands from the child... are viewed as weaknesses, even emotional disabilities (unresolved issues) that require therapeutic interventions. Therapists blame the parents for their bad feelings about the child or might switch to the more willing "client" ignoring the elephant in the room.... which causes a lack of faith in therapy for the parent.
- Everyone presumes that if the child's needs are met he or she will naturally begin to reciprocate. Loving the child and satisfying his or her needs is not enough. The child MUST be taught how to be in a relationship. Role modeling does not work with our children.
So this is the hard part for me. I had never heard of RAD or any of this when we first got Kitty and Bear. We had two bio children. We felt it wouldn't be fair to not treat the new children exactly like we treated our own. We lied to these two children we just met, and told them we loved them when we didn't - couldn't.
We started with claiming and belonging and didn't realize the full-extent our children needed safety and security. It's been three years of giving our children the luxury package.
Both the children and myself are not benefiting from or satisfied with the relationship. I feel used up, resentful, angry... all the things mentioned by Katharine Leslie. The kids are unable to reciprocate and be part of a relationship. Kitty is better, but Bear... not even close.
My interactions with Bear have become punitive... the thought of him giving me a hand massage (one of the reciprocating suggestions by Katharine), made my skin crawl. I do not want him to touch me. I do not want to be around him. I do not like him.
So now what?
Katharine told me to take a few months break from Bear. Umm... not sure how to do that, but I am going to back off for awhile and finish reading When a Stranger Calls you Mom, then most likely reread Coming to Grips with Attachment. If that isn't enough, then I'll call Katharine Leslie and ask her advice.
- I'm working hard to remember that I didn't cause this and it most likely isn't "fixable," especially this late in his life.
- Pouring everything I have into him doesn't work so I shouldn't feel guilty for not wanting to do it anymore.
- I have a right to grieve the child/relationship I thought I was getting. He doesn't "deserve" all the privileges of being part of this family... they're hurting him not helping him.
- I need to set up fun times with positive interactions so we have the opportunity to fall in love instead of focusing on punishment and chores.