Not the Life I Expected-Parenting A Child with Attachment Disorder
Most of us didn’t go into foster care or adoption expecting to parent a child with significant attachment issues or Reactive Attachment Disorder. Even if we adopted an older child who experienced abuse or neglect, or a child from foster care, or a child from one of the many understaffed and underfunded orphanages throughout the world, we didn’t think that our precious child would be one of the ones with long-lasting devastating damage from failure to bond.
This life you are now living is not at all what you expected. Every day is hard for your child, and that means every day is hard for you.
No One Else Understands
Compounding your struggle as the parent of a chid with an attachment disorder is the total lack of understanding from family, friends, teachers, and ministers. They often see a child that can be charming and wonderfully quirky. They think a little more firmness would do the trick… or maybe a little less firmness? They think your expectations are too high… or maybe they are too low?
Deep down they wonder if the problem is you. You sometimes wonder this too.
Most older children who are adopted thrive in their new adoptive homes. They have been hurt and their attachment has been damaged, but they are able to slowly and surely start healing. Some children, however, continue to struggle and so will their parents. This is not the life either the parent or child expected.
Explaining Attachment Issues to our Family, Friends, and Teachers
As the parent of a child with attachment issues or Reactive Attachment Disorder, you are often in the position of having to explain this “invisible” disability and damage to others. The folks over at Attachment & Trauma Network have created resources to help you. If you are parenting such a child, I promise you will see yourself and your child in this 4-minute video. They also have a letter to explain attachment issues that you can adapt and give to family and friends.
P.S. Creating a Family also has many many resources to help you help you child and to help you feel less alone, including:
- The Connected Child (1-hr. audio interview with Dr. Karyn Purvis, author of The Connected Child: Bring Hope and Healing to Your Adoptive Family and Director of the Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University.)
- Helping Your Adopted Child Heal from Past Trauma and Loss (1-hr. audio interview with leading attachment therapist, Carol Lozier, author of The Adoptive & Foster Parent Guide.)
- Parenting a Child that has Been Sexually Abused (1-hr. audio interview with Dr. Joshua Sparrow, Assistant Professor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Director of Special Initiatives at the Brazelton Touchpoints Center at Children`s Hospital, Boston. He has a monthly column on child development in The New York Times.)
Do you feel misunderstood as the parent of a child with an attachment disorder?Image credit: JBLM PAO