I’ve spent the past six years searching for answers to parenting my children with early trauma histories. There are lectures, books, CBT, DBT, EMDR, play therapy, occupational therapy, equine therapy, medications, neurological reorganization, biofeedback, supplements, special diets, acupuncture, conferences, retreats, camps, respite, prayer formulas, and the list goes on (and on).
It seems to me that no single thing is going to work for every child because each and every child is different, and each and every parent is different. The dynamics in families vary wildly. Is your struggling child the youngest, oldest, a twin, or artificially twinned with a sibling? Does she have cognitive challenges? Does your child have a diagnosed mental illness? Did he come to you by birth, through adoption, through foster care? Did she have prenatal exposure?
Many of us are parenting children who have mental illness. Can I say that out loud here? The stigma is huge, but let’s be honest, Complex Developmental Trauma, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, PTSD, and Depression are all diagnosed conditions.
I get emails and calls nearly every day from desperate parents who have tried many treatments and this morning I feel frustrated and sad for all of us. I feel the weight of judgement from people looking in from the outside, as well as from people who have had success from a method and are sure we will have the same success if we just “do it right.”
Do we judge parents whose children have cancer, asthma, or diabetes? No, of course not. Do we try to figure out just what they may have done to cause their children to have these illnesses? No. Would it help my friend whose child has cancer if I quizzed her about early diet, exposure to substances, or other things she may have done (or failed to do) that caused this? I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t. Would I judge the treatments she seeks for her child, question her doctor’s advice, or the cost to the rest of the family? I think I would know that she is doing her very best to help her child heal.
I wish I could say there is a perfect formula for healing our kids, but there is not. There are tools and treatments, some of which are very powerful, and others I personally would avoid. God made our children; He knows every detail of their minds and bodies. Let’s extend grace to one another as we work hard to find the right help for our children.