Monday, March 12, 2018

You Are Not Required To Set Yourself On Fire To Keep Other People Warm - Trauma Parenting

Parenting is hard work. Looking after all the little details can make even the staunchest brain fizzle and sputter. When you add mental health issue's, trauma and brain challenges into the mix, things become even more complicated.

It is hard to feel as though you are a good parent when:

 - Due to developmental disabilities your child cannot associate with his peer's and as a result, spends his days feeling crushed and inferior. 

- Your child chronically lies to cope with the complexities of his world.

-  When because of past trauma, your child react's negatively to the love and nurture you long to pour upon him. To complicate matters, your child cannot, and will not, heal until he can accept nurture.

- When trauma has wired your child's brain to lash out at anyone who attempts to get close to him. As a result he is terrified to acknowledge that he cannot take care of himself. This means he spends his life feeling miserable and making his family miserable, because he is too scared to accept the help he needs.

- When screaming, raging, and destroying things are your child's primary language when he is faced with difficulties. He may scream because he can't find the milk, because his sock's "feel funny," because he doesn't know what he wants to eat for snack, or because life is simply overwhelming at the moment. When you have multiple children who react in this manner, remaining cheerful and upbeat can be a daunting task!

- When you don't know if your child truly doesn't understand your question or if he is "playing dumb" because he is feeling ornery and doesn't want to cooperate with you. "Parenting a child with attachment disorder feels like driving in the dark."

- When your child presents as a cheerful, well adjusted child outside the home, but is anything but behind closed doors.

- When your child feels the need to manipulate every interaction with you in order to control the relationship.

These things are just a sampling of what a trauma family may face in a day's time. Trying to meet our children's needs without taking on their trauma is tough. Don't ask me how one accomplishes this because I struggle in this area daily. 

This quote has helped me put things into perspective: "You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm." 

To often I feel like I have to do everything in my power, even if it means I am depleting my own resources, to ensure that my child has the chance to succeed. While this is necessary to a certain extent, I need to continually remind myself that if I burn out I will be unable to help my child. "You cannot pour from an empty vessel, neither can you nurture your hurting child when you aren't practicing self care."

So if you are parenting brain challenged children and feel like you never quite reach around; like you never quite reach your child's heart, remember to take care of yourself. This feels counter intuitive, but I am slowly learning that when I take care of myself I find it easier to meet my child's needs without joining in their trauma.

In conclusion:
"Occasionally, weep deeply, over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face. trust God. And embrace the life you have." - John Piper

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