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Monday, April 6, 2015

Caregiver Burnout

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Children who have experienced trauma are tough to parent. Those who have attachment problems in addition, are even more difficult to parent. 

The professionals cry, "Your child needs you, you need to give him/her all you have so he can heal!" 

The parent cries,"I am not reaching my child, I must not be giving him what he needs!" So they give more and more of themselves.

The child cries, "I need more, more, what you are giving isn't good enough, it isn't filling this void inside me, more, more.....

.....and the parent gives and gives and gives. Because, they adopted this child. They said they would care for him. He is so sweet to other people so there must be something wrong with me or my parenting....so they give more of their time and energy. 

  The parent spends more one on one time with the child. They buy him what he wants even though they know things cannot buy love. They try another therapist, another doctor, get another evaluation. They stay up into the wee hours researching trying to find something that will help their child. They lose still more sleep when the child is roaming the house at all hours of the night, or when he awakes before dawn every day, yelling for mom. They give and give and give and the child cries, "More, it is not enough!"

   We all want to help our children succeed and move beyond their past but at what cost to us as parents? When you give and give and give from a parched and dry heart, there are repercussions. 

When you are too tired to walk to your bed, literally, and you spend another hour holding your raging child, praying that God would give you the strength to hold on...
    When you shake from head to toe with fatigue and you see your traumatized child beating up a sibling. You know you must intervene and that means finding a safe place for the raging child and soothing the pain, both physically and emotionally, of the wounded child.....
  When you are sick to your stomach because of stress and you know when your child comes home from school he will be looking for a fight because he has worked so hard to hold it together all day...
   When you cannot form a cohesive thought due to total brain burnout from trying to help your child's team of caregivers understand that  he cannot come home until he is stabilized and they insist he cannot stay in his current placement.....

   Years upon years of this sort of stress, day in and day out will take a toll on your body. You know your body is depleting itself but what can you do? Your child needs help and as parents we put our children's needs ahead of our own, no matter what the cost. 

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   Until one day it all falls apart.

   Who cleans up the pieces of family when mom and/or dad are too burned out or are mentally and/or too physically ill to hold things together?

  Who helps the child who has already experienced so much sorrow and pain? 

  Who helps the siblings of the RAD child work through their sorrows, fears and pain?

  A family is left broken, shattered, crushed then what?

 I know I shared this before but Braden's therapist told me time and again, "You have to take care of yourself if you want to help Braden heal." It sounds so noble but HOW do you take care of yourself? 

  I am no longer in the thick of parenting a child with RAD but I know plenty of mom's who are. Every time I tell them they must take care of themselves, they ask how. 

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How do you leave the stress and fear behind and rise above it? I was never very successful at this so I am asking for my readers to share what they do to relax and stay healthy both physically and emotionally. I know you are out there....my posts often have at least several hundred views, so someone is reading, please share and I will write another post containing your replies.

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