Saturday, September 1, 2012


We have never claimed to be perfect parents.  When you spend so much of your time fighting on the frontlines of a traumatized-child-versus-authority-figure war, there are many times that you end up parenting on the fly, enforcing the first and best thing that pops into your mind at any given moment.  Sometimes, the impulsive ideas are brilliant and work beautifully.  Other times, you look back later and think "Hmmm...that was definitely not my best parenting moment."

We're human.

Parenting a child that is constantly looking for the next chance to one-up you is tiring.  Constantly looking for the next way to gain power over you, the next opportunity to control what you do, the next way to manipulate a situation to make you squirm.  Control is everything to kids with attachment problems, even if gaining perceived control causes them to hurt themselves down at their very core.  Even if it causes them to lose the things that they love the most.  If they feel triumph for even the briefest of moments, they feel

But then what?  How do they feel afterwards, when the damage has been done?  I mean really, truly, deep down in their do they feel?  Happy?  Independent?  Thrilled?  Exhilarated?  Powerful?

I honestly don't think so. 

I think they feel alone.

Totally and completely alone.

Today our son probably felt more powerful and more alone than he's ever felt. 

He doesn't like living here, at least when it comes to being held accountable for his actions, which he is perfectly capable of being held accountable for.  We have raised this child for nearly six years, and we know for a fact that he knows right from wrong and understands what consequences are for.  His ability to discern appropriate behavior and his ability to understand consequences is not in question here.  Of course, like most children, he doesn't enjoy consequences, but his disdain for them is massively aggravated by the fact that they are handed down by us...the very ones that he desperately wants to control.

The problem comes to this: he can't stand it when we, as his parents, exercise authority over him.  He may let it go for weeks at a time, and honestly, when he's been in a calm, regulated state of mind, he doesn't need correction very often.  Maybe that's even part of the problem.  He tries so hard to be perfect so that we never need to tell him that he isn't.  So that he never needs to be corrected. 

Because being corrected by us feels like death to him. 

And sooner or later, it gets too hard to pretend to be "perfect". 

He can't hold it together forever. 

Eventually the pent-up emotions blow, and we find ourselves living with a child we don't even know: a child that isn't respectful for more than a moment at a time, rages about everything, instigates fights about the most insignificant of things and refuses to comply.  This is the child that often needs to be restrained as he bites, head-butts, digs with his nails, and pulls out hair.  A child that so badly wants to be in control of us, that he can't even control himself. 

This is the child that we voluntarily put into the mental hospital. 
So they could help him.

This is also the child who, in typical Attachment Disorder fashion, has not shown one single behavior like these to anyone there, and has painted a picture of life with our family that simply isn't true.  While he is quiet and sad and compliant there, his exaggerations and outright fabrications are easy for non-RAD-trained (or even non-RAD-endorsing) people to believe.

And so our power-hungry, will-do-anything-to-make-Mom-and-Dad-pay-for-the-crime-of-trying-to-love-me-and-raise-me son has scored a big, controlling, painfully earned and significant point today.

And I bet that tonight, this little boy becoming adolescent, the one that I love more than my own life, is lying there in his sterile hospital room...

feeling totally and completely alone.

Our hearts are breaking.



  1. My heart is breaking for you. I know first hand how well behaved our emotionally damaged children can be with outsiders, yet can wreak havoc at home....where they apparently feel safe enough to do so. Praying that those who are there to help will have eyes that see and ears that hear!

  2. I can't say I promise you this -- but --- chances are --- it will get better. Time is your only friend with attachment challenged kids. Time, and uber amounts of patience (and prayer). You're going to be ok... he will grow up.... he will change... his brain will make connections that have been a LONG long time coming... and they will either be incredible significant, or just little barely noticeable connections.. but they will make a difference. On top of everything else going on in his tangled mind is the craziness of his age and the stage he's in developmentally. It does get better. Unfortunately, it's just not going to be today. Don't give up, you're an amazing mom.

  3. We too have an attachment disordered child who is 14. We have had several psychiatric hospitalizations and have been where you are now. He is in a residential facility at this point and it is awful. I pray every day for him. We have seen some progress and some devastatingly difficult behavior. His life is forever changed. He can articulate the right thing to do in a given situation, but can't put it into practice. Parents and professionals have blamed us for his behavior for years -- the manipulation, stealing and lying. Now, those closest to us finally get it. It wasn't us -- it was the years before us where he had a drug addicted mother and no stability. We are on year 8 with him......we hope things continue in a positive direction. Hang in there. We will add you and your family to our prayers.

  4. I also am where you at today! Our 18 year old daughter will not obey simple rules of the household. She is the "flight" path instead of "fight" -- so instead of the anger, she threatens suicide, hurting herself, etc.. It is tearing us up so bad physically that my husband had to go to ER this week as he had thrown up for several days.

    It is time to force her to leave -- and she has nowhere to go. A night spent trying to pray -- for wisdom, grace and trust in God!

    My heart is breaking for you.. and me...

  5. Sounds like our RAD child who is 20 mo old. So young but RAD to the core. Control or 'die' is this child's motto.