"We are going to focus on LIFE for Katya. I believe, one day, she will amaze the world."

Dr. Ben Carson on Katya Dueck

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Tough Times of Parenting a Child With A History of Trauma

I love to blog all the good and happy stuff . . . . that's the most fun and probably what most of my readers want to read!

However, I want to talk today a little honestly about what it is like parenting a child who has a history loaded with trauma AND is non-verbal.

I will give you one example: visits to school.

For reasons Katya can not tell us (yet) she goes into a panic attack when we stop in at school. No one can figure it out. Not her teachers, not us.

She's in her third year at school there, and the same thing still happens, with the same level of intensity pretty well as the first year she was in school.

We don't know if it's just because it's out of the "normal" routine and that upsets her. We don't know if it's something more. All we know is what we see. That Katya cries. That Katya becomes aggressive. That the last time I tried it, she even was motivated enough to get rid of me that she signed "Sad! Sad!" and pointed to the door, trying to get me to go while big fat tears rolled down her cheeks.

This means that we generally avoid school like the plague because if we are present, Katya literally can not function.

There is nothing like showing up where other parents and grandparents are enjoying a good time with their kids and having them all stare in fixed horror as **your** child sobs and wants nothing to do with you!

At times like that, I want to wave a sign that says, "She loves me! She really does!" because Katya DOES love me and she will come racing, lickety-split with great enthusiasm when school is done and she knows it's time to go home!!

Well, the other week Charity and I went to school for Grandparents/Special Friend day. None of Katya's grandparents are in the state so they could not attend. We explained to Katya that we would be coming and asked her if she would be happy when we came. She signed yes, and usually if we have that little convo, about other things, she IS happy about whatever we are discussing when it happens. However, when we showed up in the door way, with the room already full of other parents and grandparents, Katya burst into tears. It was all down hill from there.

I finally shrugged and told the teacher I would go to the gym and wait for them to come perform. Unfortunately, when Katya showed up 30 minutes or so later, she was still anxious and on high alert. Even though we had hidden in the bleachers clear across the gym, Katya's anxiously roving eyes quicklyspotted us and she burst into tears again.

Her anxiety level was so bad that I finally got up and left the gym, and hid, to watch through a door. However, she kept a sharp eye on ALL the doors the entire performance and spotted me yet again, again resulting in her having a short-melt down till I moved out of sight again.

She was so anxious that even when she did not see me, she was hardly able to perform this year which was really sad.

Needless to say, this is a time when I was reminded again that parenting a child is NOT about you. It's about the child. And it's time to pull your big girl boots up and deal with it. It's not fun to be the parent that is slinking around, unable to hug or applaud your child in person while every one else gets to do so, but if that is what had to happen this time in order for Katya to function,  it's what had to happen.

Parenting a child with a background of trauma means that we "die daily" to ourselves and what we want and how we feel. It means doing what is best for your child, and accepting that what looks and feels like rejection is NOT anything you need to take personally. In fact,  you can not parent your child well if you do take it personally.

Parenting a child with a trauma back ground means that you need to be able to speak truth to yourself--"I am a good parent. This is not my fault. Someday it will hopefully be different and better and some day maybe she will be happy to see me at school too. In the meantime, I will choose NOT to take this personally and I will choose NOT to get hurt and angry and allow this to impact my relationship with my child, no matter how it looks to others. I know the truth, and I will stand on that truth."

What about you?? Do you too find yourself parenting a child with a background of trauma?

Feel free to link up any post you have that relates to parenting a child with a history of trauma that you think might be helpful to other blog readers!


Mark and Melanie said...

Thank you for this post. I often need to remind myself to not take the behavior personally and that my little guy bears scars from horrific situations that I will never now the full extent of. It's not my job to heal him, God is the only one who can do that.

Mark and Melanie said...

Oh, I forgot to say that my heart goes out to you and Katya.

hungryhearts4Jesus said...

May the Lord continue to keep you strong...I love to read your blogs and keep up with what God is doing through Katya

Milena said...

I hope that one day, Katya will be able to tell you why this happens. Right now I would guess the reasons may be hidden too deep down that even if she was verbal she would not be able to tell you.

I do understand that it hurts though. Could you ask a teacher or another parent to record the performance to you, another time. And not show up - to help Katya?

Ginger Clark said...

My oldest adoptee is now 16; she was adopted at age 9. She finds it very hard to share emotions with hubby or me, unless it is joy or anticipation. We almost never hear when she has been hurt or is sad or mad or frustrated. It hurts. But she has a history of being abandoned to an orphanage when she was 8 years old, malnourishment & etc. It's hard not to take it personally. This blog post was so encouraging. Thank you for your honesty!