Monday, June 13, 2016

Triangulation, Triggers And Trauma - Effective Communication Is Key

   Children feel most secure when their parents provide a united front regarding discipline, privileges and safety issues. People with trauma tend to subconsciously divide and conquer, it is their way of being in control. They only feel safe when they are the one controlling the people and circumstances. Anyone who has parented a child with RAD, knows these children are masters at driving wedges between their parents. This wedge serves two purposes, hurts mom and dad as well as keeping them from getting to close.

      B was effectively doing this very thing, until one day his therapist brought it to our attention. As with every child with RAD, B had a major problem with me, mom. His way of dividing and conquering was to "improve" his behavior when Dean was around. Somehow he was always able to hear the tires crunching on the gravel when Dean came home from work. Whatever was going on, be it a tantrum, fighting a sibling or yelling at me, it all stopped abruptly. Till Dean came into the house, B was smiling and chattering about his day. Naturally Dean, wanting to build a relationship with him, would engage him and give him some undivided attention. How B loved that, not that he wanted the attention, but he knew that he was winning Dean over while driving me away, exactly what he wanted. Neither Dean nor I was aware of what was going on. I only knew it made me angry when B changed his attitude when Dean was home. It felt wrong to me but I thought perhaps I was just jealous of the relationship they appeared to be building.

 When we talked it over, we came to the conclusion that if Dean was the channel through which B learned to love, it would be okay.  I would just have to be okay with being the bad guy for awhile and hope that eventually B would come to love me. That was nonsense, don't ever, ever do that!! 

    Despite my resolution, I struggled to maintain a good attitude and focus on the real reason Dean showered B with love while B in turn showered me with defiance and anger. As often happens, things became worse so gradually that neither Dean nor I were aware of it until one day Miss D, B's therapist brought us up short. You can read that story here

   Fast forward to today and we have a similar situation. Of course it is a different child and the motivation behind the triangulation is different but guess who was triggered by it? Yup, me. If you are thinking I get triggered by an awful lot of stuff, you are thinking correctly. RAD, FASD and CYS investigations will do that to you.

   Anyway, it began subtly as most things of this manner do. It noticed my desire to nurture Joseph was diminishing. I figured it was partly because of how tough he has been these past weeks, but deep inside I knew there was more to it, I just didn't want to deal with it.

   Dean took off work on Friday and we enjoyed having him home for a long weekend. Joseph ran along with Dean as he usually does and Dean, being busy, gave him a little more freedom than he usually has when he is home with me. And as usual, Joseph began edging towards over stimulation and I began to be triggered. See, when Dean is home Joseph can have more freedom for several reasons. One is, Joseph will not have a melt down as quickly when Dean reprimands him. Also, there are two adults around, when I am home with all four children, I need to keep boundaries a little tighter or chaos ensues. Plus the more over stimulated Joseph is on the week end, the worse he acts out when his normal boundaries are reapplied. 

   Last night Dean and I had the talk that we should have had two weeks ago and got back on the same page regarding our parenting. I am continually amazed at how quickly our "parenting structure" becomes in need of repair when we aren't consistently communicating. Sometimes we just get tired of this high level parenting business, other times we get busy or other things come up and we don't communicate as effectively as we know we should. Usually it takes small crisis to smack us upside the head and we quickly get on board again.

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Faith'nFriends RB

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