Thursday, May 12, 2016

"No" isn't the answer....

The other day I was having a discussion with another therapist regarding the wonderful training she had recently completed. It was delivered online, over several months, by a  well known expert in early neglect and trauma. My colleague was thrilled with all she had learned and so was I because I am always happy when more professionals learn about the long term impact of early trauma. However, I can never leave anything alone, so I asked her how she intended to use that to help struggling adoptive parents manage the rages, stealing, lying, verbal abuse, chronic conflict, sexual acting out, drug abuse, etc that most live with. 

She blithely explained to me that she would teach the parents about the neural issues underlying their child's behaviours and......and.....I waited.....and waited some more.....and nope.....she didn't get it. So, I explained to her that by the time their children reach middle childhood or adolescence,most adoptive parents have already likely taken the same course, or several just like it and will have a solid understanding of the way in which their child's brain has been harmed. 

What they won't have learned, and what she doesn't seem to understand she should be helping them with - is a) learning what the years of raising a child with chronic conflict has done to the parent's brain and health and b) what the parents can do to manage the conflict and care for themselves so that no one's brain continues to be harmed. Oh, and c)  understanding that the goal for the family is to be still living or at least relating together in a loving and supportive way rather than in a "I've crawled to the finish line so get me out of here now" kind of way. 

Well, that ended that collegial relationship. 

It just seems so hard to get professionals to realize that understanding the child's dynamics is hugely important, but for those children who aren't responsive to therapy during the growing up years, it's vital to provide support to the parents. The parents needs conflict management skills that are appropriate and effective for chronic conflict kids who can't change (yet), and respite so that the parents can sleep a few days without fear, and teachers who understand that kids who negotiate with knives aren't likely to do homework. I know, I don't need to go on, you already know this. So why do I keep writing about it? Because it needs to be public and it needs to be shared over and over again until something in the system changes. Hazardous Parents need specific services that are rare to be found and rarer still to be funded. Silence won't get us those things. Speak up - tell anyone who will listen that you, and your family, are entitled to more. When you ask for respite and you are told there is no funding - write a letter to the relevant politician and to the head of the agency that doesn't have the money, and to your local paper. Write your own blog about this. Give a talk at your church or book club or professional association. Do something, stop accepting "NO" for an answer - you hear it enough from your child or youth - you don't need to hear it from the services that should be helping you. 

Hey, you are entitled to a better day. Animated Blooming


  1. Thanks Brenda. Families need concrete solutions or at least concrete actions. More discussion about the neural impact is interesting but fluff at some point. Recognition of the impact upon the entire family is critical. My other children are still suffering the effects of the traumatized sibling.

  2. Yes! And it is not helpful for professionals to treat our attachment disordered children in isolation from us, their families, who will be there in the long haul and who are still central in our kids lives even as they reject us and go their own ways for this time! By respite we do not mean voluntary care back in the ministry! Really it is an "all or none" route with such limited mental health resources for us and our kids.

  3. WOW- Please keep writing and speaking and caring!