“You’re too harsh!”
“They are just being children!”
“You are a control freak!”
” That’s just mean…”
These are just some comments “well meaning” people make when they talk to us about Attachment Parenting. I can honestly say my gut reaction is to tell them to mind their own business. However, the urge to educate them usually takes over. For those of you that have never had a child with attachment issues, who has never experienced abuse, trauma, abandonment, etc… this would be completely foreign to you. For the most part, our children did cry out, no one came..so they stopped crying. These children have no reason to trust another human. Adults are not to be trusted. I know this first hand. Not only have I seen it in my children’s eyes…I’ve experienced it. The countless nights I cried, no one came…and I finally cried myself to sleep. At a young age I had already learned that if it’s to be, it’s up to me. If I didn’t make myself something to eat, I wouldn’t be fed. I had little more than a trauma bond (A trauma bond is where an intense, traumatic experience or betrayal of trust takes place, forming an equally intense relationship/bond with the perpetrator) with my mother, who had made it clear I was an annoyance in her life. We now have a name for children like me. We are RAD – Reactive Attachment Disorder children. We find it difficult to form healthy relationships with others. For more information on RAD – see the Attachment.org website.
The point of attachment parenting is to put words to action, we love you, we want you, we value you and above all we will protect you. As parents, we do take control and teach them that there are people in the world that will have their best interest before anything else. So yes, that means taking decisions away from them until they can learn to make good and healthy decisions. Our children do ask “May I use the potty.” We do make them look to us for everything….for food, shelter, permission, etc.. Every good thing comes from us. ” I love you enough to do this for you.” For these children, words are not enough. It must be followed by an action.
When a RAD child tells a stranger they love them or hugs someone that they see occassionally…that’s a problem. They seem, at least on the surface, to be attached to everyone, to be out going and friendly. Sometimes they seem bossy and a know it all. RAD is as unique to each child as fingerprints. The piece that people often miss is the “funny”. The fun we have with our children, this is one of the ways we bond. We have SAFE fun together.
Traumatized children’s brains need to be rewired. This is something that takes time and directed effort. Therefore, we often seem to do bizarre things that interupt their crazy making behaviors. We use mouth hugs (their cupped hand over their mouth) when they cannot speak appropriately or at the appropriate time, we use strong sitting to give them time to get oxygen to their brains – this gives then time to thing and we use chores to demonstrate repentance for something that needed to be corrected.
There are volumes of books and probably a million pages written on parenting RAD children out there. Some are little more extreme than others. We’ve had to take the things that work for our family and leave the rest. We don’t do “rebirthing” or “holding and screaming”. We want all that we do to be done in love.
As an adult it has taken me a while to learn to trust my inner voice. I’ve had to learn this on my own. I’ve been blessed to have people in my life that have loved me for who I am, regardless of my sometimes bizarre behaviors. Most of all, my children have taught me to stand strong and heal.
The next time you encounter our lovely children and want to tell us how harsh we are….stop…think about why they might be so lovely. Could it be that what we are doing…Loving our children well….just might be working.