Tag Archives: Analogy

Self-sabotage

20171226_092851.jpgThis may seem an odd topic for Christmas time.  But it’s an issue I think many people face, including many once orphans.

It is incredibly frustrating to a parent or one who is trying to motivate or help the child who seems bent on self-sabotage! My best conclusion is to work around it as much as possible.  And let myself be okay with that!

I do recommend (to myself as well as to you) to be aware that behind this behavior is a need. Perhaps a deep, hidden wound that is crying out for attention, soothing, healing. Perhaps fearful feelings of the unknown, overwhelm, loss of control, or pressure of expectations.

“But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the LORD” ~ Jeremiah 30:17

Just as with a surface wound, like a gash on the knee after a bicycle wreck, the thought of it being touched and  further pain, can result in a flinch or pulling away from the very treatment that would bring relief and speed healing.

(At the risk of overdoing this analogy, I ask your indulgence.)

We can see the open wound and know it needs cleaning. Hopefully we can explain to our resistant child that it needs cleansing, treating and bandaging, in a simple, gentle way. Hopefully they will trust us enough to cooperate and bear the fearful touch that they are so wary of for the brief moments necessary.

But with the hidden wounds that show up in frustrating behaviors it is not always so clear what is needed or how to go about getting cooperation from our child.

Because the underlying wound is hidden, it is likely that neither the child nor the adult completely comprehends what the wound is or exactly how to “treat” it.

Why my 15 year old daughter decapitated all the gingerbread cookies is just one of her baffling behaviors.  Her refusal to come out of her bedroom for our simple Christmas family meal and the next day skipping out on going across town to spend holiday time with extended family from out of town is backwards to what we would normally expect. Plus declaring she doesn’t like any of her presents seems strange!

From what I have gleaned from other parents, this is a mild version of the types of behaviors many children have, especially on special occassions.

My youngest child has an all or nothing reaction that is self sabotaging.  If he cannot have something now it must mean never. If he cannot have all it must mean none.

Unraveling the effects of early childhood trauma and helping the children heal from it is a long term process.  For me, it has taken a great deal of prayer, research, commitment and self control as well as active listening to arrive at some glimpses into the woundedness of my children.  Every layer of healing is progress!

I am happy we made it through Christmas with as little overall turmoil as we did.  One of the lessons I have been practicing is that my joy comes from the inside out.  It cannot depend upon the emotional state of my children or their behaviors.  The more they are out of control, the more controlled and non-reactive I must be.  The more I have to find my peace in my relationship with God.

Two or three of my children exhibit behaviors associated with Reactive Attachment Disorder.  While I am not a doctor and do not presume to know all the ins and outs of RAD, as a parent, my opinion is that at least some of these behaviors stem from their traumatic (painful) background in which their trust in adults, primarily those who were supposed to protect, provide for and love them, was broken.  Broken trust is a difficult thing for an adult to deal with – -ask anyone who has been through a divorce — but for a young child, who may have been physically injured/damaged by abuse and/or neglect, the broken trust trains their young brain to view the world as suspect, ESPECIALLY those who get “too close”.  The self-sabotaging reactions  (which seem to them as self-preservation) to perceived threats are sometime difficult to unravel.

Baby steps are progress.  Once hidden pain points have been partially unravelled in starts and stops in our family. We have also made some great baby steps in healing this year.

My job is to protect the progress.

I hope my end of year ramblings have given you pause to think about the possible pain points behind any of your children’s self-sabotaging behaviors and helped you some way.

ASIDE:  By the way, I have found a lot of success in general in calming anxiety and impulsive behaviors, and to support focus and overall health with a group of natural wellness products that support not only my adopted children, but the entire family!  They are available for purchase through me with Oils for Orphans. If you would like to know more just let me know and I’d be happy to share what is working for us!

Wishing you & your families —

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

 

 

 

 

Another Analogy

restaurant

Do your kids joke and groan about your teaching style? I frequently use analogies and comparisons to make a point.  You know, Jesus used parables, a little story to teach a lesson for parallel situations, like an analogy!  So analogies cannot be all bad despite the rolling eyes and moans and groans from my kiddos.

I remember one analogy (not one I made up) in which it is said that a poor person is given an invitation to an exclusive restaurant by the owner, to come anytime to dine and eat all he wants without charge! Wow, what a gift – one he could never afford on his own.

Yet the poor person, accustomed as he is to being homeless and scrounging for food, opts to eat the scraps from the trash bins in back of the restaurant.  You may think, why — was he would be embarrassed to wear his raggedy clothing inside? But the owner had thoughtfully provided a new suit of clothes, expertly tailored to fit the poor man to which he could have changed into anytime he wished to come and dine in the restaurant.  In fact, EVERYTHING had been provided for the poor man to be able to come in and dine without any expense on his part.

Yet he would not.

I remember this analogy being presented to illustrate that we as Christians sometimes are like the poor man who contented himself with the scraps when he could have been feasting!  His “dine in for free ticket” was being wasted.  And we sometimes have a similar outlook when we fail to grasp our position as dearly loved children of the Most High God!

I can relate the analogy to my adopted kids as well, when they are seemingly blind and oblivious to the love we have for them and the opportunities that they have now.  It is like they prefer to eat out of the trash cans.  This is the orphan mentality at work; the self-doubt and denial of their own worth.  It is not exclusive to the adopted children, but seems deeper and more pervasive with them.  And while they are in this frame of mind, they doubt and discount anything that would counter it, and they absorb anything that would reinforce their negative thinking, magnifying and distorting it as well.

Recently some of my family has begun volunteering with our homeschool group to help with a meal once a month for the homeless.  I believe serving others will help us have a better perspective on our own life and is the right thing to do when we have the opportunity.  It is good to see that people are people and to realize that we all have basic needs.  Even so, it is easy for children and adults alike to get into a detached mentality of “them” and “us”.  We have a way of throwing up this self-protective wall that keeps us detached from those we think are somehow different than we are.

In identifying the struggles and needs of my children, particularly my adopted children, I have had to come face to face with some elements of my own life that were previously under the surface.  At any given time I may also demonstrate an orphan mentality, rather than the beloved child of God mentality.

Affirmations, written down and read and prayed over, have helped me to overcome this.  I can still slip though.  When I read through my affirmations I can BELIEVE them because I really do know that they are based in TRUTH and in God’s perspective he has provided to me through his Word.  I will continue to teach the children/teens/young adults (and pray that God provides others to speak into their lives) how loved they are and how precious they are, and what God’s view is.  I pray that someday they will believe it, thoroughly.  Their foundation of love seems shaky or even non-existant at times to them, but I know my love for them is firm because it is not my human love, but God’s eternal and unconditional love that makes it firm.

1 John 3:1 says: See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”

 

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Real life is often emotional and kid’s from hard places often have overwhelming emotions.  As a parent I want to help my children learn to use positive coping skills and give them tools to help.  There are some natural products we have begun using in our family that make a big difference in helping kids cope with overwhelming emotions, to manage and focus.  If you think it might be helpful for your family to learn more about these products feel free to contact me and I’d be happy to fill you in.