Oh Dear Sweet Parent of a RAD kid,
I write to you as I would write to a friend, because even though I don’t know you, you are my friend. This journey you are on is not for the faint of heart. It was your heart in many cases that got you into this situation. Many children with RAD are adopted and come from trauma backgrounds and you and your good heart just want to give this challenging child a chance. You were called to meet a deep need for a child in need. Your intentions were right. Your intentions were pure. They still are. I know. But, your reality has changed. You have gone the route of conventional parenting, conventional medicine and anything else described as typical and your child has not responded. No matter what you attempt, traditional or non traditional, he seems to be on a different path. He is. He is coming from a place of trauma. His brain is different, his responses are different. There are loads of people who are trying to help him (you’ve hired so many you can hardly count.) There are loads of people trying to figure it all out. (Because quite honestly, this Reactive Attachment Disorder diagnosis is extremely fascinating if you aren’t living with it.) So, lots of people working on this. Great. But, YOU, it’s YOU I want to talk about. YOU dear parent in the trenches with me. You need to spend as much (if not more) time figuring out how YOU are going to cope. He will be instructed and taught and given tools to deal with his mental health. Will you? Will you take the time to listen? Will you read books for your benefit or will you spend every hour of every day researching ways to help him connect the dots. I want to encourage YOU to work on YOU.
As a parent of a kid with RAD I recognize the ups and downs, the good and bad, but I also recognize that it appears (after 15 years of effort) that little changes. Little changes regarding his behavior. His behavioral goals appear to be the same though now they are attempting to be mastered by a teen instead of a toddler, but really, very little has changed. An unknown author once said, “Sometimes the things we can’t change, end up changing us.” Dear struggling parent, I plead with you to get this. “Sometimes the things we can’t change, end up changing us.” So, you have probably been trying to change your child, trying to change your parenting, trying to change your situation and maybe….just maybe, those things can’t change, but I assure you, something is changing…YOU! You are not the person who started on this journey. You are learning and growing each day and your reading this post this far says you are interested. You are engaged, you are trying and you are doing. Has his behavior changed? Maybe not, but you have changed. You might not be able to see it now, but I promise you, if you have stayed faithful to your mission and your family, you are a success! You are a better person because of all of this. You are more caring than you ever dreamed you could be. You are more patient than you ever thought you’d be asked to be. You are parenting this difficult child and you are doing a great job of it. Now, I’d like you to attempt to embrace this change a bit. I encourage you to start working on you and start now. Spend some time studying your behavior, your goals, your future. Yes, your child still needs you and you will continue to work on those same things for him, but don’t forget to seek them out for yourself too. Get help. Get rest. Give yourself time to think and to process. Give yourself a break. Give yourself hope. Get yourself a friend who understands. Recognize what this disorder has done to you and for you. I sincerely want the best for your child, but equally, I want the best for you.
I want you to have hope. Hope that something good will come from all of this. That changes will occur, but I want to caution you that the changes might not be in your child, they might be in you….and would that be such a bad thing?
God Bless you as you go forward on this path. You are not alone.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. –Jeremiah 29:11