When we first started our family, we were so excited about raising them with an extended family’s help, especially grandparents who we know are vital part of parenting. However, this has not been the case all the time. You see kiddos with Reactive Attachment Disorder are not only hard to pull into your immediate family, they can cause great strain with extended family. How you ask?
There are a variety of reasons. Some off the top of my head – parenting style for RADs, charming personality of RAD outside of home, lack of boundaries/logical consequential thinking with the RAD, misunderstanding on why certain rules must not be deviated from, etc. Parenting style for RADs is very, very different than it is for Non-RADs. It is more matter of fact, less spontaneous and definitely harder parenting style. This tends to be the Great Divide in the family. I have been called controlling and mean.
Another issue arises when our RAD using their extremely charming personality to those around us which in turn makes us look like ogres when we call them out. This is manipulative and calculated on the child’s part. Not being mean here, honestly. I know that this kiddo does this to keep others at a safe distance and prove to themselves that we parents are not to be trusted through how others respond to US! It hurts too much for them to be loved. Here I have been told I am unable to understand my child’s needs.
Most kids frontal lobe of the brain does not fully develop until into their later teen years. RADs start developing at that age. This appears as no conscience usually. Also may seem they do not understand cause and effect. And finally, having no boundaries with others. Most of these kids will go with a complete stranger at a drop of a hat and may even initiate this encounter. They also put themselves in extremely dangerous situations because of this lack of brain development. It takes constant vigilance on the parent’s part. In this arena, it was strongly suggested that I lack the ability to raise my children with manners and social skills. One family member even called one of my kids a monster :(.
Rules are a necessity with these young ones. Nothing can cause them to spin faster out of control (and in danger to themselves and others) than the unpredictable. So if certain activities are triggers for them, no matter how fun they are for everyone else, they cannot be involved. Food schedules, school schedules, sleep schedules, even clothing requirements are vital for them to heal and feel safe in their environment. So bye bye spontaiety! Fun sucking parent has been batted my way.
Expecting a grandparent or extended family member to understand, let alone be on board, can be difficult. I get this because I have spent years learning the what and hows of RAD parenting. I would love to be respected for that knowledge and experience. As with my husband’s and my extended family, this isn’t the always the case and has sadly caused some rift. As a RAD mom, I want understanding and support of my choices at the very least. On the top of my wish list, support, encouragement, and help!
I found this letter the other day on Facebook as was given permission by the author to publish it on this blog. If all I have said above sounds vaguely familiar but you as an extended family member don’t know what to do, start by reading this letter.
When you are done, go hug your adult child. Trust me, we need it!