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!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Surviving the teen years

In my opinion, 14-15 yr are the hardest years to parent our kids. If it helps, it does get better, even if they are not actually capable of attachment.

First of all, You Haven't Failed.

What helped me the most during my kids' teen years:

  1. Prioritize Self-Care - including realizing that my reactions were perfectly normal for someone living in a traumatic, abusive environment. I took medication to help me through this time. I couldn't have made it through without my "tribe" of people who "get it."
  2. Reading (and Rereading) the book, Stop Walking on Eggshells. It REALLY helped me take a step back, depersonalize their behavior, and set up boundaries with my teens.
  3. Finding the Joy. Once I was in a better place emotionally (my bucket was closer to full) then finding the joy became my priority. I couldn't have survived without it.
  4. Dealing with Rages. Turning right back around and putting my child back in the hospital when they became abusive, rather than suffering through it. I set boundaries and put a LOT of structure in place.
  5. Stop Trying to Change Their Perceived Reality - For my kids, getting them to acknowledge or accept reality was pretty much impossible. Especially when it comes to biofamily. Trying to make them do so just damaged our relationship.
  6. Realize That This Was Fear Causing the Behavior - It's not actually personal (although it DEFINITELY feels that way). Understanding why they acted that way really helped me a lot. I know for my son, he was already thinking of turning 17 (his friends convinced him he could - and therefore should - leave at 17) and "having" to leave home. So he started pushing us away so it wouldn't hurt so much. I know this doesn't make sense, but a lot of what they do doesn't make sense!
  7. Normal Developmental Phase - Yes, a little of this really is just "typical teen behavior." Hormones and trying to become more independent, just not always doing a great job of it. Even though Kitty and Bear were emotionally younger - there was a lot of peer pressure from their friends. My neurotypical bio kids (Bob and Ponito), went through this stage too - one more obnoxious about it than other (guess which one!).
  8. Have Realistic Expectations - Age-Appropriate Parenting / Structure and Support / Chores, Responsibilities, and Other Things My Kids Can't Handle.

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