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!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Attachment Challenge Day 11 and 12 and Makeover

Attachment Challenge Day #11
11:30 I let Kitty sleep in so that when we start the sleep shift it won't be as big a change.
12:30  We go thrift store shopping for our "makeover" for senior pictures which are that evening.  I asked Kitty if she wanted me to do like they do on the show What Not To Wear - they give you rules and the hosts go shopping with you to help you find clothes that fit those rules (Stuff she can wear to school.  No black or gray, nothing tight around her midriff, fitted, but not slutty.).  She said, "no," but then amended that to say maybe I could help her pick out a dress.  I told her that was OK, if she didn't want my help then she could do it on her own and I'd go look at books or something.  I did remind her that it was her money and she didn't have to buy it if she didn't like it.  She decided to let me help.
We actually had a pretty good time.  I picked out about 25 outfits for her to try on, and of those she chose about 15 to purchase (the others didn't fit right).  She found a dress and a pair of jeans on her own.  I was impressed that she was able to try on clothes for so long (often an issue).
2pm - After we got home and had some time to decompress, I asked her to notice that ancient mom had actually chosen all cute outfits that she really liked.  I told her I'd like her to use my love languages and verbally acknowledge that (words of affirmation!) and give me a hug.  She did say thanks and gave me a quick hug (although she remained seated and made me come to her).
2:30 - Sewing class I teach to Kitty and another teen with similar issues (bipolar, RAD, borderline personality disorder, mild obsessive compulsive disorder...).  Kitty's attention span is a shorter and she's not as interested in sewing (especially when she realized she wouldn't be able to finish her shirt in time for the photo shoot).  She usually only makes it about an hour of the 2 hour class, and that's OK.
5:00 - Kitty and I start trying on outfits to choose what she wants for the photos and find (my) jewelry that matches.  I paint her nails.
7:00 - I put makeup on Kitty (and Bob) and do their hair.  The photographer is a cousin so it was fairly casual. I tried to joke about the fact that every single time the photographer stepped away from the camera, Kitty's smile dropped like a switch, and every time the photographer looked away, Kitty was giving me a death glare, but it hurt. I finally told the photographer I wanted her to try to catch a picture of the death glare, but Kitty never slipped up and got caught.
Bob realized that both she and Kitty had chosen lace dresses with a denim jacket as one of their outfits.  She suggested that they do a shot together, for me.  While I was helping Kitty change for her last outdoor shot, I mentioned Bob's suggestion.  She accused me of it being my idea, even questioned Bob about whose idea it was.  She did do the pictures though.

Attachment Challenge Day #12
11:30am Kitty slept late.  She ignored me most of the day.  Except to let me know that, oh by the way, she has a mandatory staff meeting that happens to be right in the middle of a designated sleep time next week.  I rearrange the schedule (for the billionth time), and she texts someone at work.  Then she realizes it's possible to attend the meeting on a different day after all.
4:30pm Kitty leaves for work.
9:00pm picked Kitty up from work.  She forgot to tell anyone that she couldn't work next weekend.  *sigh*
She does a couple of the chores she never got around to during the day, watches a little TV with everyone else, and then goes to her room.

I'm not sure there's even a point in calling it an Attachment Challenge anymore.  We're barely doing anything to foster attachment.  Maybe I can think of something we can do in the middle of the night when we're trying to stay awake.


Anonymous said...

How long are you willing to do this attachment challenge for? What if Kitty continues to resist it? Even Katherine Leslie, from what you'd said in a previous post, believes that some children are simply too damaged and guarded to be able to bond and attach to a family or caregiver. And I know that Katherine Leslie is an author you highly respect. I don't think it would be fair to continue putting the two of you through this rigorous exercise if it becomes too hard for one or both of you. Kitty may very well one day choose to back out of it altogether. Then what would you do? I also have some attachment issues from an early life of trauma and neglect, and am a few years older than she is. I don't have emotional challenges that are as severe as hers, and my cognitive and social development is a lot more on target for someone my age, and I personally handle these kinds of things better if I have some say in how they unfold. I was put into my adoptive family a lot sooner than she was, so was able to have a longer time to form at least a little bit of an attachment to them. But I also have differing views on family just like she does, and there are some family members who I just simply don't desire a relationship with at all at this time. I don't feel that I need them in my life. I have nothing to say to them. What if Kitty one day grows tired of this challenge and quits? What would you do if this were to happen? I believe that with everything, there comes a point where you have to step back, and acknowledge that you've done your best. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. I'm glad that you've had at least a little enjoyment during the time you've spent doing this with her, but I'd encourage you not to force this on her for too long. Your thoughts?

marythemom said...

Honestly, I've not pushed this challenge as rigorously as the original challenge, because Kitty can't really handle it, in fact we've stopped all together now that we're having to deal with the sleep chronotherapy stuff.

As you mentioned, it is different for Kitty than for you, because of her development. She IS insecurely attached, so she is able to bond/ attach to a family, something I don't think Bear is capable of. Kitty really is a young child in a lot of ways so it's possible to do some of the attachment building activities that just wouldn't be appropriate with a young adult like yourself.

I will probably find a way to build this type of activity into our daily routine, until it feels more comfortable and natural to her.

Hedged in Beauty said...

I applaud you for taking such diligent steps to give your children the very best. I pray they will soon realize and often remember how very much you seek out what can help them and faithfully walk out your love for them in a tangible way!

I think it's great the way you tailor what you've learned to what your children can handle, all the while encouraging them to grow past whatever obstacles they may have encountered into the strongest, healthiest person they can possibly be!