I want to express a few thoughts and see if they resonate with any of you.
You may know that within our family we have special needs, attachment disorder (and reactive attachment disorder which is the upper end of that spectrum) mental health issues in addition to that; language delays, social delays; just all these special needs type things going on, and Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD) and OCD , ADHD — and more alphabet soup!
What’s a mom to do!? I’ve learned that if you are all wrapped up in the family, the children, their special needs, and the relationships that attachment disorder has really put a negative spin on (with multiple kids and family members!) then it can really put you in a rotten space. If you have your own identity all wrapped up in the nature of being a parent of the alphabet soup, special needs, chronic illness and all that goes along with attachment issues that is.
The children are growing up and trying to forge their own identities. Some have additional issues with identity — identity crises — because of their past.
Now think about the parents. Moms in particular (and dads, I am not trying to exclude you but you know, I can relate most to moms).
What about your identity?
Your identity cannot continue to be wrapped up in the relationships and in the roles that you have — the roles that are changing — the roles that are up one day and down the next — the roller coaster ride that is this life, without some real damage, without losing yourself, without losing your own identity.
So, you MUST regain and/or hold onto your identity in Christ.
Your identity as God’s child.
Your identity as someone of value and intellect and purpose.
You can hold on to your true identity:
Whether or not a particular relationship goes haywire;
whether or not a particular illness continues or gets worse;
whether or not you have to deal with a mental health crisis that day;
whether or not behavioral issues pop up;
And whether or not other people judge you as someone who should handle things differently than you do, or should parent differently than you do, or is even the cause of some of the behaviors or issues with your children.
And so, who are we doing this for? Are we really just doing it for ourselves? No.
For our children? Yes! But not just for them.
If you are like me, then you agree we are really doing it for God.
And for our love of God.
And in obedience to God.
So we do it for our kids – yes, but as God gives us love and loves our children and our families through us he gives us the ability desire. And HE is the one we are really doing it all for!
He knows your heart.
He knows it all.
He knows these children.
He knows their background and he knows their needs. And furthermore, God is able to take them, continue to work on them, and maybe do it through you or maybe through other people or other ways. So it’s not all on your shoulders. Put it back on his, where it belongs.
That’s all of my rambling thoughts. I hope you ae encouraged. If you are, feel free to share and follow Yesterday’s Orphan for more.
“All my needs” . . . what does that cover?
ALL is the sum total, leaving nothing out. And “my needs” includes financial needs, daily food, shelter and clothing. I think it also includes the needs I have for relationships and belonging, purpose and value.
The Bible verse I have on our kitchen wall tells me that all my needs will be met (provided for) by God. Not my husband, my child, my friend, my pastor, my parents, my government or my local church.
Philippians 4:19 New International Version (NIV)
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
I think it is important to understand that while God can use any or all of these people and these avenues to meet our needs as he chooses, that’s the key phrase, “as he chooses”.
I copied a quote from one of the older Bibles we have, the WOW Student Bible article “The Twelfth Man” on the tradition of Texas A & M University football (a good read, but I won’t go into that here). This led to the story of Melchizedek, Biblical Priest and fore-runner to Jesus, the perfect 3-in-1 LEADER – – Prophet! Priest! King! Each of these, the Twelfth Man, Melchizedek, and Jesus arrived in an uncommon way.
And here’s the quote:
“Help doesn’t always arrive in the proper uniform.”
Of the many ways that this quote may be applicable, it has reinforced something that has been driven into me in my life recently. God has allowed my expected sources – – people I have counted on to meet some of my needs – – to dry up! Leaving me flipping out like a fish out of water, I had to settle down, breathe and wait for God to show me what my next move needed to be. Talk about HARD!
But my God came through as he always does and showed me that leaning on him – – and him alone – – was the answer. And enough. Because he has the solutions to whatever I need. He has the solutions for you as well.
Another hard thing was recognizing that all my flipping and flopping like a dying fish was prolonging the agony and keeping me away from the solutions he had waiting. I needed to focus on him and be ready to take the next step when he showed it to me.
Help may look different than what you expect and if you aren’t careful you might just miss it – – or delay it – – while you keep trying to wring help from the dried up sources you are holding on to.
God can use anyone or anything for his purposes. He seems to delight in blessing his people through unexpected sources. (When’s the last time you saw water coming from a rock, or saw a burning bush that was never consumed by the fire?)
I implore you, open your eyes, your heart, your mind and prepare for God’s unexpected blessings in your life. Get ready for the next step. He is more than able to meet your every need.
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 helpful tools.
I have begun using some fantastic essential oils and other products that make a big difference in helping some of my family members with often overwhelming emotions, to manage and focus better.
Hit Reply (if you are reading this in e-mail) or Contact (if you are on the website) above or below to learn more about our toxin-free natural plant-based personal care products and dietary supplements and how they can help you and your family, too.
This 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!
Freeze! Fight! Flight!
That is the human response to overwhelm. We may literally be unable to move or speak, or at a reduced capacity, in the face of extreme danger. That is the freeze response. But think about it, freezing up is often a response to more subtle feelings of danger or less obvious overwhelm. We may be slower to respond, not because of laziness but because of the freeze response. We may be judged as procrastinating or delaying in decision making.
We know what fight looks like. Of course. But do we understand that in the fight response the ability to reason is lessened. The bulk of our resources are harnessed for the fight in a survival instinct! And there are different methods of fight. It may be a physical fight or perhaps we feel like fighting but have some restraint so we punch the wall or yell or stomp or throw things. The fight might be mostly a shouting match, but whichever way, it is a survival mentality, born out of fear.
Then there is flight. The felt need is for escape, and it can be strong. Sometimes children run away from home, or attempt to. (You might take a walk or go shopping) While in this mode of flight from the overwhelm or danger, decision making and executive thinking is degraded so the dangers of running away, even if known, are not fully considered. That really goes for all three responses.
So dealing with responses in a logical, thinking way has to be done either before or after the stress response, with assessing what happened, dealing with the results, and planning ahead for next time.
Can you identify in your adopted or foster child whether they tend to revert to freeze, fight or flight? Perhaps they have exhibited all three. Are there certain responses that upset you more? Do you respond more calmly to freeze, or shutting down perhaps, than you would to fight or flight/escape. Or perhaps flight scares you when it tends to happen in public places where you envision more danger. What is your go to response? Can you relate to the child better if your typical responses (or what you feel like doing even if you do not follow through) are the same? Different?
Make it count. If a full blown stress response has happened, after the cool down, do not fail to make it count by revisiting what happened. Use the opportunity to take preventive measures toward the next time. Failure to do so will inevitably result buried feelings until the next eruption knocks the top off of them. A little understanding will go a long way. But remember that it is an ongoing process, not a one time fix.
You may be wondering just what is meant by the term, “orphan mentality”. As an orphan advocate and adoptive parent, I have observed (along with many others who are much more expert than I) some particular differences that are often manifested in someone having an orphan viewpoint or mentality rather than the viewpoint of a person who has a confident assurance that they are a beloved child. We deal with these types f differences day in and day out.
While children, orphans from traumatic backgrounds, may demonstrate traits of an orphan mentality more strongly, more intensely and/or more overtly than others in general, I have found that it is not strictly limited to orphans.
Here are a couple of examples:
First, a child who has an orphan mentality, though he is in a family with loving parents may view a minor correction as a sign that he is not loved or valued, whereas a child who is confident of his parents’ love and acceptance may feel a slight sting of guilt at disappointing a parent but understand that they are still deeply loved and valued, and can be taught that even the correction is made from the parent’s loving concern for their well-being.
Secondly, a child confident of their parents’ love might show annoyance at the correction, or even voice their disagreement, but still have an underlying understanding that regardless of the parent-child conflict there is a foundation of unconditional love and acceptance; whereas the orphan mentality says they have done nothing wrong, are their own judge of what is right for them, and their disdain for this parent who dares attempt to correct them. It has to do with the foundation. The foundation of love and acceptance, protection and provision, safety and security must be built but it is much, much easier to establish when there is not already an opposing foundation from a traumatic background and in place.
As a child of God I know I am valued and dearly loved by my Creator, yet I sometimes get into a bit of an orphan mentality, feeling like I am unloved, or like I have not done anything wrong and should not be corrected. The stronger the foundation of love and acceptance, the more consistently in touch with God I am, the quicker and easier to overcome this type of sinkhole thinking.
I have noticed as well that the orphan mentality is self-perpetuating to a degree. A person feels like the world is against them and so they find “evidence” to back up this belief and it grows stronger and stronger. This tendency makes it hard to battle and overcome.
Orphan or not, belonging to the family of God is available to everyone who sincerely calls on the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness. That is because you are dearly loved and precious, so precious and valuable that God sent his son, Jesus to suffer and die in order to have a relationship with you.
Matthew 7:25 says, “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” Jesus is the rock that provides a firm foundation for us as well as our children.
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. While not a substitute for professional help when needed, there are some natural products we have begun using in our family that make a big difference in helping kids (and their parents) be ready to learn appropriate ways of coping with their big feelings, to focus and be more settled. Let me know if you are interested in learning more about specific products.
If you like this blog post you may like to check out and follow the Yesterday’s Orphan Facebook public page here, or if you are a parent/caregiver and would like to join our closed member Families group you can do so here.
Lastly, if you are interested in the natural products I’m using to support our health while avoiding many common toxins comment and ask me. I’m happy to share!