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!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Penguins vs Eagles

Heather at Strong in the Broken Places wrote a beautiful post titled How Would I Know.... You should check it out. She is a beautiful writer.

This is another one she wrote about her daughter called Teaching a Penguin To Fly. (Go read it, I'll wait.)

I see so much of Kitty in this one. Heather* very eloquently put into words the frustration that I feel when I see people wanting to treat my children like they can just spread their wings and fly like eagles. My kids look like eagles, but in many ways they are penguins (they look like birds, they have wings like birds, but no one expects penguins to fly like birds). The problem is determining in which ways they are capable of being eagles, which ways they could soar (with some major assistance from the ground crew), and in which ways they are penguins and will always be penguins.

I get so frustrated when I hear people saying that Kitty or Bear's behavior is "normal teenage behavior" or it's because I'm not spending enough time with them, or we're being too strict... Maybe sometimes it is just normal teenage behavior, but most of the time it's penguin behavior, and the motivations and instincts behind the behavior are so different.

As we deal with the kids' behaviors, Kitty's meltdowns, Bears' irritability and hyper vigilance, Hubby and I are frequently frustrated with not knowing what is causing the behaviors and therefore not knowing what to do about them.

  • Is it medication based (found a pill Bear must have dropped, we've changed the time on a med that makes Kitty sleepy, Bear's having trouble with insomnia again...)?

  • Is it a symptom of one of their diagnoses, and if so, which one?

  • Is something going on with school, relationships with friends and families, a movie or TV show... anything that could be causing stress or anxiety?

  • Is it caused by the abandonments, the abuse, the changes in caregivers, or any of the other of a multitude of issues and events that happened in the years before we met them?

  • Was a genetic predisposition passed down through the generations?

  • Is it part of their personality or the way their brain works now after the effects of their childhood? RAD causes brain damage too (your brain becomes wired differently with neglect, or prenatal alcohol/drug abuse).
Sometimes it doesn't matter, as how we discipline and parent will be the same either way. Other times it seems vitally important. I hate to push or demand they be eagles when the behavior is because they are penguins. At the same time, I don't want to limit them to penguin behaviors where it is possible for them to soar. It can be so frustrating.

Anyway, I like this analogy, and hope you like Heather's blog. She may not write often, but I found her blog to be very entertaining and insightful.

*yes, I see the potential confusion here for some of you. Nothing I can do about it. It's her name!

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