Fear of the unknown is something well known to the parents of a kid with Reactive Attachment Disorder. I know something is going to happen, I just don’t know what or when. Today my son left for school with a look in his eye. A distant, far away, completely detached look. My son who usually has an adorable cuteness, beautiful brown eyes and a warm smile, had a blank stare. My talkative child who would argue any point, didn’t argue and really didn’t speak at all. He made one sarcastic remark about restoring our relationship and went out the door.
I sent an email to the school saying that I feared that a bad decision was in his future. Now, I sit with butterflies in my stomach and dread the phone ringing. Will he actually do something? How bad will it be? Or will he be wise enough to seek out a trusted friend or teacher to talk about what’s on his mind?
The fact of parenting a RAD kid is that you will never be the one he will confide in. You will never have the honor of being the one to teach her right from wrong. You will never be the one who can give advice or guide him. Oh, you can try….and you will. You will spend years and years trying to guide and instruct. You will spend years and years trying to comfort and nurture. You will spend years and years trying to welcome her into a deep relationship with you. But, you will fail. Oh you may get a glimmer of a bond, but it is probably just superficial. You may even believe you are making a difference…for a moment. But you will never make the difference that you hope to. You will never get out of this relationship what you put into it. I know, I know, never say, “never.”
OK, so you won’t get the relationship with your child that you desire, but does that mean you get gypped out in the relationship department? Absolutely not. You will get to know many people that you would’ve never gotten to meet without your special needs child. You will develop friendships with strangers that adore your child and bail him out at every chance. You will get to make deep, sincere friendships with other RAD parents. You will get to have deep respect for all those people who take the extra time to make a difference in your child’s life. You will revere coaches, teammates, therapists,classmates, bus drivers and even janitors who are called to bring joy into your child’s day. Your relationship with your spouse and your other children will deepen as you all work through the pain, grief and bewilderment of having a child with RAD living in your home.
And, ultimately, it is my hope that you have a relationship with God and that it will deepen because of your ultimate reliance on Him to get through a single day. It is during those times when you see that look, the empty, bone chilling evil look in your child’s eyes that the fear will make you run to the Lord and pray for the best. You will pray that a smile from the lunch lady or school secretary will change the course of a day. You will ask God to help your child make a good decision. You will pray that God will foil any plan that your child may have that will cause him further pain. You will ask God to comfort the pain your child suffers from his past trauma that now also causes you pain. You will ask God to comfort you. Your child’s determination to not have a relationship with you will cause you to deepen your relationship with the One who created you…and created your child…and knows exactly what the day will bring.
The fear of the unknown? There is no “unknown” to fear, even if it may be unknown to you.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. –Isaiah 41:10