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Or your foster kid.
Or any child from a hard place.
Taking in kids who has walked through adverse childhood experiences is not for the faint of heart. I have yet to meet a family walking this road who has not been pushed, pulled, and stretched beyond measure. Families endure the effects of chronic stress at the best and divorce and disruption at the worst.
So what do you do when your family feels like it’s falling apart and nothing’s working?
1. Find at least one other person who gets “it.” The isolation alone and thinking you’re crazy or the only one who has it this hard is enough to defeat anyone. We were meant for relationship. While an in-real-life person is ideal, an online community is better than nothing.
2. Carve out time for respite and/or self-care. There a million and one excuses for thinking you are the exception and you cannot make this work in your situation. However, it’s imperative that you refill all that emotional energy that has been zapped by trauma. Give yourself permission to grieve your situation without taking it out on your child.
3. Go back. Remember the compassion you felt when you first heard your child’s story–the compassion that drove you to welcome your child in the first place.
4. Reframe your perspective. Rather than pitting yourself against your child, find ways to address the situations so they are you and your child against the trauma/anxiety/behaviors. Rather than seeing the behaviors as intentional ways your child is ruining your family, become the detective that seeks out what your child is maladaptively trying to communicate about himself. Give your child the benefit of the doubt. If you’re reading this, you probably have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
5. Get professional help. While not all help is created equal (or even worth investing in), there are some amazing resources out there. More on how to hand pick a professional for your family in a coming post.
Just to reiterate #1…YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Additionally, families who have been to hell and back and survived to tell you about it, will tell you that there is hope for your family and your child. Please contact us for resources.