Redos and Kids from Hard Places

Traditional Parenting doesn’t work with kids from hard places.

We learn in ETC Parent Training we need to empty our traditional parenting toolbox and refill it with new tools.

A REDO is one of those tools.

Every offense by a child doesn’t need a volcanic reaction.

A redo is an opportunity for a child to redo the action in the right way. This is so important because it helps rewire the brain. A parent simply and playfully (if possible) walks the child through the proper steps. I use and example of this in the video below. A great thing to remember is a redo can be quick, playful and specific.  For example if you have two kiddos playing with cars and one grabs one out of the other one’s hand. Here are two scenarios:

Traditional Parenting:

Mom: Give that car back. You should know better. We share in this house. Blah. Blah. Blah- meaning a whole sermon on why we share.

Redo Parenting:

Mom: Let’s try that again, buddy. Give the car back. (Child hands car back however reluctantly, Mom smiles). Great job, giving the car back. We don’t take.

*If the child wants the car and they are community property, then you as the parent can work out a time for each child to use the car. This is also an opportunity for the child to ‘use his words’ and ask for the car instead of grabbing it. All of these tools should be used quickly and with a pleasant tone. When we use anger to work out scenarios, our child will too!

Here’s a short video I did on the topic for The Whole House Adoption/Foster Support Group: (don’t you love my expression?)

Adoptive/Foster Parents- You are NOT Responsible for the Trauma Your Child Endured Before He Came To You

When dad came to pick us kids up for summer visitation, the departure was swift.  We packed our bags in the trunk of his current car and rushed down the lane, leaving a trail of dust behind us, Mom growing smaller in the distance.  This is the moment the fear gripped me. The familiar faded and the unknown lay before me. The tense anxiety choked me while my stomach churned. Down the highway we sped to another unknown destination; Dad rarely bothered to sit down and explain where we were going and what it would be like this time. The landscape changed from the hills of West Virginia to the bluegrass of Kentucky or the plains of Iowa, where once we raced beside a tornado as it ate up the fields beside us.

Every year, it was a new home in a new state. And every year, it was the same unstable summer, with our travel and activities dictated by someone else’s moodiness or alcoholism. New places did not fill me with hope. They were foreign landscapes with no known retreats or safe hideaways from the too-familiar emotional climate.

The unrest filtered down to me and cemented my fear and presupposition: There is nothing good in the world.

My past gave me a faulty picture of the world. Even today, I struggle with sitting in the backseat of a car. I need to know where we are going on a trip. I don’t just want the directions, I want to see the map. My early life sometimes still dictates my now. I know that. I have strategies to deal with it. My friends know this. They let me sit in the front or drive. It took me years to figure out why I didn’t like to sit in the back seat or why panic rose up in me. Knowing the why helps me deal with it.

Our adopted children don’t know the why or the how. They see through the lens of their past and it is like this old camera. The view is scratched and distorted and they may blame us, the adoptive parents. Can you imagine if I went on a road trip with my friends and blamed them for my fear of riding in the back seat?

Children have a difficult time separating their past from their now, therefore:

You are not responsible for the trauma that happened to me before I came into your family, but I will act like it. If you let guilt rule the home, we will both be miserable and neither of us will experience any healing.

Separating our children’s past from their now is a difficult aspect of adoption. We parents must be the mature ones and not let their reactions to past events determine our reactions. If we do react negatively, then we will live in a constant civil war and more wounds will be inflicted. No healing will take place and the child will be orphaned (rejected) twice. I don’t have my reactions mastered, I wish I did. I am writing this because my daughter Audrey says I should share things that I wish someone would have told me. I wish someone would have told me this: Many of us who have the heart for adoption, the desire to adopt a large sibling group of children, have had a troubled past ourselves. The desire directs us to adopt. It doesn’t equip us. We must equip and educate ourselves.

No one told me that my past and my adopted children’s pasts would engage in a tug of war to the death.

We both had a faulty lens on our camera. Guess who had to change hers first? Me. Guess who had to die? Me. My flesh. Guess who messed up, often? Me. We assume that wrestling with the child means a physical fight and if we are not careful, that is what it becomes. Daily. There is no healing that way.

For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.- Ephesians 6:12

I have always loved this verse, it sounds so mystical, mysterious. We aren’t supposed to engage in a fight with physical opponents, so how do we fight these master spirits who are the rulers of this present darkness? Ephesians 6:11 commands us to put on our armor that you may be able to stand up against the strategies and deceits of the devil. This is war!

Adoption is war. We are not fighting with a physical sword, our sword is the Word. Our belt is truth. Our feet must be shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace. We raise our shield to protect us from the fiery darts of the wicked one. We put on our helmet of salvation (deliverance) and breastplate of righteousness.

What does this look like in reality? Sometimes it means, we just stand. We don’t react when our child melts down and blames us for his hurt, his feeling rejected. We speak the truth in love, “Man, that stinks, how does that make you feel?” And we redirect, “What do you think we could do about that?”

When we disengage our right to react, we become powerful.

And more important than any of the above, we pray. A prayer for healing. Place your child’s name in the blanks:

(Name) __________is not harassed by physical symptoms or feelings or their supposed connections to past events. The curse of rejection and abandonment is broken, _____________ is a new creature with a heavenly Father who loves _________, the Stronghold is broken, the sticky web of the past is dissolved. ___________has forgiven and _________ is forgiven.______________is washed clean and ____________ reactions are based on the Word and the new creature that _____________is, not the old fearful, anxious child that _______________was. NO! ____________ is a strong, assertive child of the King, ______is a co-inheritor with Christ, ________________ have all the benefits that He has bestowed upon me. ______________is more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus.

The Child’s Mistaken Goals (Attachment)

I’ve been talking about attachment on my Whole House Lives on Facebook. Here are some of the points-

When parenting a child who has had trauma in their lives, we must consider the child’s mistaken goals and direct the child to new goals. If you want to know more about trauma, listen to our podcast– The Six Risk Factors.

Mistaken Goals

  1. Unless you pay attention to me, I am nothing. I have a place only when you are busy with me

  2. Struggle for power

  3. Retaliation and revenge

  4. Complete inadequacy

* From Driekurs’s Children the Challenge

A child stuck in survival mode or who has attachment issues, or both can vault like an Olympian between these mistaken goals and we parents can get stuck reacting to them.

Disciplining the unattached child is part of the package deal. We can’t attach to a child and ignore their mistaken goals. The child won’t let us. They will be our face, day and night.

Traditional Parenting Doesn’t Work with Kids From Hard Places

I have a confession to make. I tried spanking. I know, it is often viewed in harsh light nowadays. The media likes to paint a violent picture of a parent with a wide leather strap foaming at the mouth, who is angrily wailing on the child.  That is not spanking in the proper sense. Spanking is a calm, cool parent with loving intentions, one who has not given into angry resentments. The parent speaks calmly to the child about the consequence. There is a purpose and a process that works with a child who has been raised in a secure environment, not for a child who has already experienced abuse and neglect.

This is not a post about spanking. I just want to point out that it didn’t work with my adopted children. It often ended up in a physical tussle. Meltdowns could end that way too if I intervened at the wrong time.

I learned the hard way and through trial and error to leave spanking behind and focus on training (more of this subject later). I just wanted to touch on this subject briefly before I move on. If someone had recorded the spankings I gave my kids with them thrashing, hitting, kicking me and my tiny frame trying to hold them down. It wasn’t pretty. It backfired. I often ended up bruised and sore from them.  I am baring my soul for your sake and the sake of your children.

New Members of the Family

I’ve talked about some rudimentary basics of attachment,  purpose (work) and discipline on my live last week. These are intertwined, just as our spirit, body, mind and emotions are intertwined. A child with attachment difficulties is like a new convert in the church. They have been wounded and battered by the rules of this present darkness, working through humans, wars, famines, and all sorts of evil. These children come into the family with mistaken goals, just as new converts come into the church with faulty foundations. They aren’t sure how to behave, outwardly, physically, what to think, mind and emotions and how to actually walk in the spirit, the pair of themselves they have ignored until the day they joined the family of God.

These children come into the family with mistaken goals, just as new converts come into the church with faulty foundations.

Now, they are new creatures, family members in the house of God the Father, siblings with the son of God, yet they still slide off their chairs during dinner hour and eat scraps off the floor because they don’t know how to sit at the table. They horde manna because they don’t know that Jehovah Jireh provides only for today because today has sufficient worry of its own. All of the “Praise the Lord!” lingo is strange, just as it is weird to call a man “Daddy”, it may have a different and scary meaning for a child/convert raise by a daddy who reeked of alcohol and beat them. Will this new daddy be strict? Will the child slip into retaliation mode? This rears its ugly head when a power struggle ensues. Some people because of their past controllers cannot or will not listen to any branch of authority, so they come into the church family reluctant, refusing to take any advice and chafing at any restrictions.

“In many cases the child’s erroneous ideas and mistaken goals underlying his misbehavior are so well entrenched that it may take more than a correct response to the various acts of provocation. One may have to work toward a deep reconstruction of the child’s basic assumptions, of his personality pattern.” – Children the Challenge, Rudolf Dreikurs, M.D.

The basic beliefs or assumptions must replace the child’s mistaken goals:

  1. I am valuable even if you are not always paying attention to me. I am a son of God and therefore a sibling of Jesus, and heir to the promises of God

  2. I am not in control of everything, neither do I need to be. God is in control and He will take care of me. I can submit to some authority and trust God is in control..

  3. I do not need to retaliate. I can forgive and I am forgiven. I do not be in angry defensive mode. I need to be in trusting acceptance mode.

  4. I do not need to give up on life. I have a purpose. God created me to do good works and I will do them regardless of my  past circumstances. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

“For as many [of you] as were baptized into Christ [into a spiritual union and communion with Christ] the Anointed one, the Messiah] have put on (clothed yourselves with Christ).

There is [now no distinction] neither Jew, nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free there is not male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

And if you belong to Christ [are in Him who is Abraham’s seed], then you are Abraham’s offspring and spiritual heirs according to the promise. – Galatians 3: 27-29

This is a new way of living that says “I can’t act the way I feel like acting anymore. I can’t act impulsively. I cannot run around in survival mode and be a functioning member of a family.”

Most of us came into the family of God in survival mode, i.e., in the flesh, but born of the Spirit. Our names are written in the Lambs book of life. The adoption decree is sealed. We legally belong, but our assumptions haven’t caught up. We don’t believe it. So, we must be patient with our children who come into our families with a different set of values and beliefs. We must parent them with the tools that will lead them to feel secure.

 

Six Risk Factors

“A scar is evidence of a wound, but also evidence that we can heal.”- Scott McClellan

 

I didn’t think it would be this hard.

My child’s behaviors are out of control.

He got kicked off the school bus AGAIN.

He keeps punching kids in line.

The whole house is like a war zone.

I thought I could do this, but I don’t know if I can. It’s just too hard.

Risk Factors

I’ve heard these statements along with pleas for help from countless parents. I have offered to come into the home and do some observation, as well as get some parenting tools that work into the hands of the parents. It seems as if every time, the parent says, “Oh, he/she is so manipulative, I don’t know.” As if the child will pull the wool over my eyes (as he may do with some professionals or teachers) or their situation is so unique, so individual that I won’t be able to grasp it. It is this pit of ‘aloneness’ that foster and adoptive parents feel. No one else struggles like you. Nobody understands. We adoptive/foster parents may feel as if we have slipped an Alfred Hitchcock are captives who will never escape.   To move forward with understanding, we must first have knowledge.

Every behavior is a need in appropriately expressed.  Foster/Adopted children have had trauma in their lives. Trauma changes the neurochemistry of the brain in these children.

 

In adoption/foster circles we hear the phrase ‘children from hard places’. As Ryan North, Executive Director of Tapestry Ministries, reminds us, this is not a geographical location. As explained in The Connected Child, there are six primary risk factors that characterize children from hard places:

  1. Prenatal stress and harm-over 80% of children adopted/foster care have been exposed to drugs or alcohol, cortisol crosses the placenta and alters the structure of the brain and damages the immune system* story of the woman stressed in pregnancy- measured her cortisol levels and those of her infant six months after delivery.
  2. Difficult labor or birth Twin example- one born at home, one at hospital after 45 minute ride to the hospital
  3. Early medical trauma Hospital stay, surgery, etc.
  4. Trauma- house fire, natural disaster, auto accident, death of parent
  5. Neglect- You don’t exist
  6. Abuse – You don’t matter

Five things are impacted by early trauma (any one of the six risk factors)

  1. Brain- altered brain development, overactive amygdala. It’s as if the child is chased by a bear all the time. Our experiences shape the connections in our brain. Hebbian principle- what fires together wires together.
  2. Biology- Neurochemistry is altered. Hormones altered. Serotonin is often low. Dopamine is low or high. Some young children have the adrenals of a ninety year old.
  3. Body- Learning delays, developmental delays, sensory issues
  4. Beliefs- What’s one firmly held belief that you have? What would it take you to change that belief? Kids from hard places often believe: People don’t love me because I’m not worthy. If I was worth something, people won’t treat me this way. Everyone leaves.
  5. Behavior Regulation. Co regulation. Self Regulation. – A child from hard places has difficulty regulating because he has not had the natural progression. Remember, a behavior is a need inappropriately expressed. Fight, Flight, Freeze mode is often what kids from hard places get stuck in.

Traditional parenting doesn’t work with these kids. In the ETC course for adoptive/foster parents, we teach 25 parenting tools to help these kids have hope and healing. The tools are based on the model TBRI- Trust Based Relational Intervention, created by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross at TCU in Texas. This approach was turned into a training curriculum by Michael Monroe and Dr. Purvis called ETC Training for Adoptive and Foster Parents. 

If you’re struggling with helping your adoptive/foster child heal and make progress, check out ETC Training, find one in your area here.

Also, The Whole House Team recorded a podcast on the subject. Join Lori and Kathleen as they delve into the Six Risk Factors here.

If you are local and want Kathleen to come do a training for parents or professionals- email her at Postiveadoption@gmail.com.

 

 

 

Mothering When There Are Obstacles

Do you feel as if you can’t get around or over the obstacles in motherhood?

Mothering when there are obstacles.png

Do you  feel as if your God-sized dream of Motherhood is similar to running a gauntlet? You’re not alone. There are obstacles in pursuing any God-sized dream. Obstacles don’t mean you are on the wrong path, it often means you are on the right path. The devil doesn’t mind if you start something, as long as you don’t finish it. Often, our attitudes are the obstacles. OUCH. Yep. A huge door of opportunity is open for us and with it mushrooming opposition (I Cor. 16: 9). We don’t have it all together. The Whole House CANNOT give you a five step program of how to clear the opposition. What we at The Whole House can do is say “me too”. We are down in trenches together. Join us on The Whole House Podcast and be encouraged and listen to Kathleen tell about five plates of spaghetti hitting the floor in one dinner.

The Whole House Podcast Episode 6- Mothering When There Are Obstacles.

iTunes link here.

Don’t forget to sign up to follow The Whole House by email to get your gift of

Mint Coffee Photo Minimalist Food Journal Book Cover