We all face difficulties when parenting our children. There’s the terrible’s and of course, let’s not forget those teenage years. But for the parent’s raising a child with attachment disorder or attachment issues the challenges can be enormous. Majority of children that are diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder are children that have been adopted.
Typically these children suffered through trauma which resulted in their diagnosis however, there are children living with their biological families, that for one reason or another were unable to form healthy attachments with their biological parents. The normal bonding cycle happens during our first 3 years of life. The results of a child who was unable to experience healthy bonding during this time cycle can have a huge impact on our ability to parent.
There are many parents who adopt that are wanting to give a child a chance in life and some who adopt that were unable to have children of their own. Most believe that their love will be enough to undo years of damage and restore the child to wholeness.
There are also biological parents who weren’t able to create a bond with their child during the normal attachment cycle time period that have become emotionally available and ready to love and care for their child.
Unfortunately, these children didn’t experience the nurturing needed to form healthy attachments with their primary caregiver.
Without the emotional weight of the bond between primary caregiver (which is typically the mother) and child, a conscience doesn’t develop or blossom within the child, only a strong need to fend for themselves.
An infant/child,s resources to care for themselves are very limited, so they learn early on how to get their needs met. They may learn to manipulate, put out the charm or become aggressive. These children have been put in a desperate situation. They developed these skills to get noticed, have someone pay attention to them or to simply stay alive.
Unfortunately, their cries for help or discomfort had no impact; their voices were not acknowledged during infancy. No one responded appropriately, consistently or in loving ways to their needs. They didn’t experience feeling valued or wanted. In their minds, controlling a caretakers reactions, rather it is positive or negative made something happen on their terms. When needs aren’t met for an infant/child it creates frustration and anxiety.
The child also doesn’t learn the value of a parent but instead learns to control their environment and parent themselves to the best of their ability.
A mix of feeling powerful, survival mode, and rage can run deep with a child who has experienced neglect and abuse during this time period. Intimate close feelings are uncomfortable to these children, they have become comfortable relying on themselves.
New parents for these children can be seen as someone else to manipulate and control for their survival. Unfortunately, traditional parenting with extra love as we know it, are not a part of the remedy that helps this child heal and succeed in a family.
Although the above sounds extremely undesirable, there are people that feel that it is their mission or purpose to parent a child that has suffered neglect and abuse. But more often then not most parents feel that they didn’t sign up for this undertaking yet find themselves in the midst of it all. It can feel heartbreaking and overwhelming and parent can feel torn as they watch their family dynamics change so drastically. It can be very challenging, but the key is to find the right training, help, and support.
These children can heal and they need us. The end result can be wonderfully rewarding and the child’s healing will affect generations to come. What we need is the understanding and awareness from the outside world.
We need family and good friends that will support us. We need them to take the time to learn what we are going through as we parent a child with special needs. We need resources, schools, therapists that can really help make a difference with our children and support our efforts as we take on this parenting challenge.