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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Why Our Parenting May Be Different From One Moment To The Next

        Joseph played with his toys beside my chair as I visited with a group of ladies, one evening not so long ago. When Dean walked through the room, he looked at me, asking without words if he shall take Joseph with him. I smiled and he called Joseph who jumped up quickly as he is only to happy to spend time with his daddy. After they left the room, someone asked me why we always keep Joseph either with us or in line of vision. I was glad she asked, as to often assumptions are made and someone ends up getting hurt.

     When B was home, most everyone understood he had "a problem," though few people understood exactly what the problem was. When he spent 2.5 years in a treatment home without permanent progress in bonding, Dean and I felt we were given a little more grace, perhaps we did have reasons for some of our seemingly odd, parenting techniques. :)

   Joseph has similar problems with attachment, he certainly doesn't have RAD, but due to the brain damage he suffered in utero, he struggles to understand cause and effect. This directly affects his bond with us because a child learns to trust through his parents providing both the care and discipline he needs. 

    Joseph needs cream put on his skin daily to keep it soft and moist. He hates the cream with a passion. I am certain his SPD is part of the reason he dislikes it so much. In his mind, when I put cream on him I am being mean. I have sat him down numerous times and explained why he needs the cream, last night we had just such a conversation.

Joseph: "I hate this cream! You don't care how it makes me feel, it hurts and you put it on anyway!"

Me: "How about I throw the cream away?"  

J: "But then my skin will crack and get sore! You must put cream on me!"

M: "So you are saying you are going to be angry if I put it on and angry if I don't?"

J: "Yes, because I don't like the cream and you put it on me anyway! But If you don't then it will hurt even more, so you must put it on!"

    This conversation is a classic example of brain damage caused by alcohol. I keep thinking that if I explain things in simple enough terms he will eventually "get it." Then I remember a quote I read some where, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."

   This is also why Joseph does not have as solid a bond with us, his brain cannot make sense of his world and he views mom and dad as the people responsible for, "Making my life hard," as he says.

    All this to say, this is why we parent Joseph as one would a child with attachment disorder, even after he has been with us for 8 years. It is easy to get the impression that we are picking on him by keeping his world small but in reality we are doing anything but that. See, we know the possible reality of his future and we are determined to do our best to give him a chance to succeed. We know that giving him freedom to sit on other adults laps, cuddle beside them or drink in the attention they long to shower upon him, will only hinder his ability to bond with us.

   Due to his brain damage, he is much like a child who has recently been placed with us and we parent him accordingly. I know what people see in public would lead them to think he is well bonded but in truth, some of his baby like, adoration of us is all for show. He knows people will smile at him if he sits on mom's lap or gazes into daddy's eyes. There are other times however when he really is at that age level emotionally and mentally so we hold and cuddle him accordingly. This is why we sometimes make him sit beside us rather than holding him and other times offer to hold him. As his mom n dad we know him well enough (usually) to know where he is mentally.

   Joseph loves attention but he can't handle it very well. As one mom shared in a book, "My daughter was at the dentist and did a great job, knowing our daughter had some struggles, the dentist praised her. I explained that the next few days would show how well she handled the appointment, because she holds in her big feelings until she is at home." That describes Joseph very well. He may appear to be handling the attention but what no one see's is the fall out later on or in the coming days. We try to prevent these fall outs at all costs because they can easily damage the bond we are trying so hard to build.

The book I got the dentist story from can be found here. If you struggle to know how to relate to adoptive families concerning attachment, this is a must read!

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Women With Intention
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