**There’s some minor language in this post. Sensitive eyes and ears be warned!**
This morning was… Awful.
I failed at therapeutic parenting. And so did Husband. And we failed hard.
We broke all the rules of therapeutic parenting you can think of, and now I’m not sure how to repair the fallout from this morning.
I know all the therapeutic parenting principles, and I believe in them. I know my kids “from hard places” need calm, stable, loving parents to heal from their early-childhood trauma, and that every time Husband and I lose our cool and revert to crappy authoritarian parenting we are undoing days, weeks, sometimes months of progress we’ve made.
I know all of this, yet I still find myself yelling at my kids and sending them to their room when I find them engaging in egregious behavior. This morning, Little left his room before anyone’s alarm went off, went to Middle and started terrorizing her by hitting her and kicking her bed. When she got up to tell us, he played his sympathy card and started crying, so she laid back down. Only to have him come back and hurt her and harass her again. And again. And again. I don’t know how long this went on, but at one point their angry voices roused me from my sleep, and suddenly I was yelling at Little and telling him he had to stay in his room alone until an adult told him he could come out.
Big therapeutic parenting no-no, especially when I know, logically, that isolation is one of his triggers.
Things devolved further into Crapsville when Husband reverted to his own default methods of authoritarian parenting.
And here we are. Unhappy kids, unhappy parents, and an uncomfortable atmosphere hanging in the air, dooming any chance we had at having a happy day.
And I don’t know how to fix it right now. So I’m not. I’m hiding in my room chatting about this morning’s events on my Facebook support groups and trying to process what happened through writing about it here. Oldest is in here with me playing on the computer, Middle is watching Where the Wild Things Are, and Husband is monitoring Little who is still in his room. Everyone is safe and okayish, but we’re certainly not fostering a loving environment today… Unfortunately, I don’t know if either of us has the gusto needed to pick up the pieces from this morning, glue them back into some semblance of a functioning household, and carry on. I’m sure we will get there soon, but I honestly do not know if it will be today. Because I don’t think I can handle myself well if I try to repair with Little only to have him laugh in my face as soon as I believe I’ve made an impact (which is usually what happens… I will come away from a soothing moment with Little thinking the rest of the day will be okay and then literally two minutes later I find him engaging in unsafe or hurtful behavior).
I try to portray myself as a therapeutic parenting guru here on this blog, because I want so badly to help other parents who are struggling with the demands of helping traumatized children heal from their early-life experiences. I have all the knowledge to write informed articles that dole out advice to other trauma moms and put a positive spin on the adverse events our family continuously finds ourselves in, and I believe that my words can and do help others looking for answers to their children’s inexplicable behavior.
But today, as I sat down to write an inspiring article discussing how one event at the BeTA retreat showed me how much I really love all my kids, how much I love my stepchildren even though they struggle with attachment and therefore find it very hard to love them sometimes, all I could think to myself was, “Oh, man… I am so full of shit.”
And that thought has been echoing around in my brain all day long.
I really believe that to be true about myself at this particular moment. But after talking with other trauma parents online all morning and discussing in great detail everything that happened today, I have to ask myself… Am I really? Am I really just bullshitting when I write on this blog, or comment on Facebook with tips or advice, or attending presentations on RAD and sharing my story?
Would I think less of my aforementioned parenting gurus if they told me about their hard days with their kids, the days they lost their tempers and yelled or isolated or even spanked their kids?
Well… No. No, I wouldn’t. In fact, when I see my gurus discussing their own parenting failures, as awful as they can be, I’m actually comforted by their admissions because it shows me that even the most apparently calm-cool-and-collected therapeutic parenting coaches, bloggers, vloggers, and counselors screw up from time to time. Sometimes they screw up big, and sometimes they screw up small, and sometimes they get it just right.
There’s a reason I mention Christine Moers so often on my blog in addition to the fact that I’m a huge fangirl of hers (and I’m a little nervous I’ll act like a groupie or something when I finally get to meet her this April). I credit her with saving my family when it was about to break, and I know I’m not the only trauma parent to say that. She is a “big name” in trauma parent circles, because she’s amazing. And wonderful. And just seems so very zen. Surely she never screws up, right? I want to be JUST LIKE HER, DAMN IT!
Maybe I am more like her than I realize.
And even though I feel like admitting my failures undermines my credibility as someone who claims to know how to do this therapeutic parenting thing, I think it’s much more important to be honest during my hard times than to pretend they aren’t happening, that they don’t exist, that I’ve therapeutically parented the RAD-behaviors right out of my kids and that we are living happily ever after.
Sharing our hard moments, admitting our failures and discussing our shame and anger surrounding them, is incredibly important. We need to be reassured by one another during our biggest struggles, to be told by other parents who live this trauma life, “Hey… I’ve been there. Okay, sure… You ‘did it wrong,’ today, but tomorrow is a new day. Go eat some cake.” We need to share our “bad moments” with other trauma parents so we can get support and gain insight on how to improve things. If you’re feeling brave, I encourage you to share your hard experiences with others whether that be through your support groups, your social media groups, or even in the comments section of this blog.
When you share, you might find help. Earlier today, one trauma mom suggested I throw this morning out, turn on some good dance music and just get silly with Little today (a suggestion my wonderful mom also frequently makes!). And I’m trying very hard to talk myself into doing just that, to get past my fear of being manipulated and hurt by a freaking child and go do what’s right.
I’m not there yet, and I may not get there today.
But there’s always tomorrow.
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