Monday, January 30, 2012

There is a new Mama in town

Parenting children with trauma is tough.  Parenting children with trauma with traditional parenting methods is impossible. Want to know how I know?  Because I have been trying it for 2 years and it was NOT WORKING AT ALL.

I was raised like most people that your parent’s word is law and you listen and obey, enough said.  You definitely don’t talk back and if you did you would be punished. You certainly wouldn’t even consider kicking or hitting them.  But we were raised in stable homes and given what we needed.   Children with traumatic pasts did not have that same stability.  They didn’t have examples of healthy adults to trust.  They don’t know what a safe relationship with an adult looks like.  They deal with big pain every day and really big shame.  Their misbehavior most of the time is not pre-thought and malicious it comes from deep within them a place of fear and shame.

So, if I am not going to parent her with traditional methods of parenting then how do you parent a child with trauma to help them feel safe, loved and learn rules and boundries?  Well in some ways I am still figuring that out.  I thought if I didn’t parent the way I had learned she would never behave or learn or be respectful.  I am finding that my method is not working and I am not meeting her where she needs me most.   So, I sought out the help of an amazing parenting coach Christine Moers who gave me some fabulous encouragement and tips on parenting children with trauma I love her  youtube posts and her blog posts about parenting.

I began to implement them into my home and what an amazing transformation I have seen.  No, the tantrums have not stopped and the screaming is still ear piercing at times but I feel so much calmer and in control and the funny part about it is that it is going against everything I have ever learned.  She hasn’t changed but I HAVE. I needed to look outside the box and see that there are other ways to do things.

So what is so different?  First I am not reacting to her behavior like I used to.  The calmer and quieter I am the shorter the tantrums are. I am not taking her tantrums as a personal attach on me but as a cry for help from her.    When I don’t react to her behaviors that are negative she seems to “pull out” of them faster.   I am learning to empathize with her and feel her frustration and anxiety to help her calm down faster.   I am not giving her consequences for behaviors I don’t believe are within her control at the time but are in the grasp of her PTSD or anxiety and fears.   I am learning to give myself room for silliness in the midst of some of these tantrums I can find the silly and help her break the negative cycle she is in.

This is just the beginning but for the first time in months I feel such a weight lifted off of me.  There is hope.  As I take each day and add more skills in I see change.  It isn’t easy. I have to go against all my preconceived notions of parenting to make this work but it is working!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Beautiful To Me

Music moves me. Music is how I relax, and it is often how God speaks to me. I have been so busy lately that I haven’t taken the time to slow down and listen. I decided it was time and I loaded a bunch of music onto my ipod.  I found this song below and it made me start to think about my Little R. I look at her and see a little girl that has so much to offer the world and I see the potential in her, but she often doesn’t see that in herself.

Her spirit has been so beat down over the years by people telling her she can’t do and can’t be and isn’t beautiful. She has come to learn to tell herself she isn’t worth it and isn’t beautiful both on the inside and out. I heard this song and it has spoke to my heart and I want so badly for my Little R to see yourself as beautiful.

Nichole Nordeman   Beautiful for Me

Every girl young and old has to face her own reflection
Twirl around, stare it down
What’s the mirror gonna say
With some luck, you’ll measure up
But you might not hold a candle to the rest
“Is that your best?” says the mirror to the mess
But there’s a whisper in the noise
Can you hear a little voice
and he says
Has anybody told you you’re beautiful?
You might agree if you could see what I see
‘Cuz everything about you is incredible
You should have seen me smile the day that I made you beautiful for me
If it’s true beauty lies in the eye of the beholder
What my life and what’s inside to give him something to behold
I want a heart that’s captivating
I wanna hear my Father say
Has anybody told you you’re beautiful?
You might agree if you could see what I see
‘Cuz everything about you is incredible
You should have seen me smile the day that I made you beautiful for me
Close your eyes
Look inside
Let me see the you that you’ve been trying to hide
Long ago, I made you so very beautiful
So I ought to know you’re beautiful
Has anybody told you you’re beautiful?
You might agree if you could see what I see
‘Cuz everything about you is incredible
You should have seen me smile the day that I made you beautiful
You’re so beautiful
Beautiful for me
So beautiful for me
Has anybody told you?

After I heard this song I stood my little R in front of her mirror and we talked about what she saw.  I reminded her that God made her perfect, just the way he intended.  Nothing about her is a mistake.  We talked as we stood in the mirror and I pointed out all the beauty about her on the out and especially on the inside.  I reminded her that as the inside becomes more and more beautiful  the outside will reflect that beauty.

How important it is for us to grow spiritually beautiful children.  How important is it for us to teach our girls that there inward beauty is the most important and then that will be what shines through. I had forgotten that not only do I need to nurture my girl with all the things she needs, I need to remind her of her beauty and remind her that God made her and she is beautiful in his eyes and that is what matters.

Have you told your girls lately that they are beautiful?

Friday, January 13, 2012


One year ago in the middle of a blizzard we adopted our girl. I remember when we were in front of the judge she asked us if we understood the complexity of what we were about to do and if we understood that this was a permanent never to reverse commitment. She knew our Little R’s history and understood at great length the challenges that we had already endured and what we were up against with little R.   I remember looking down at the document as I signed thinking “here we go, bring it on”.  

  I don’t think I really knew what I was getting into when I said that, but here we are in this life that some days I pray we will just make it hour by hour.  Life has not  been easy during this past year, and at times I feel like I am pulling out my hair and losing my mind all at the same time.  Struggles with attachment, trust and control are just a few of the things I attend to each day.  We take 10 steps forward and 12 steps back sometimes daily.

Despite all of that I would not change that day in the court room a year ago and I would sign that document again even knowing what I know now.  This little girl needed a family.  Despite what we deal with on a daily basis she needs a family just like anyone else.  I believe with all my heart she needs us and we have a responsibility to help her to heal, and grow into a beautiful young lady. 

If I can teach her just a few things as her mom it will be to respect herself, respect others, do her best, and most of all honor God with all her heart.    I hope that I can instill those things in her as we go through the years.

As adoptive parents we have extra responsibilities to our children.  To be open and good listeners.  Willing to accept them and their past.  Allow there past relationships to exist within your family.  Willing to be vulnerable and take on our child’s pain and have patience to allow the process to work and prepare that the healing is very slow.   If you have the expectation that it is going to be a quick process then you will be disappointed and not helpful in their healing process.  Give yourself credit that you are doing your best.  Take time for yourself and allow yourself the time you need to rest so you can be 100% present for your child. They need you desperately to be present for them.

So here we are 1 year later and I look forward to seeing where we are a year from now and hopefully heading back into the courthouse again in the next year to two.