After reading the June/July 2007 Lutheran Witness, I am moved to write regarding the “Family Counselor” letter. A pastor was concerned for a family of adoption who struggles with behavior challenges and hence has limited church attendance.
We could be that family. We are one of those families. We have lovely children who, when not fearful, operate with love and compassion. Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and a myriad of other brain-related challenges illicit unconventional behaviors in children. Triggers of fear at church (and any other place) can be conventional such as crowds, loud noises, a morning that isn’t routine, etc. But, there may be fears only perceived by the child and not immediately understood by the rest of us. During those times we need to calm our child and alleviate the fear. On those days, families such as ours may need to leave or we may not even make it to our beloved church. On those days we may be weakened in spirit and faith – because such a challenge is draining.
We do not need to hear, “It’s just a phase” or “You just wait until he/she is a teenager.” It doesn’t help to be quoted, “Spare the rod and spoil the child” or to be told about the merits of daring to discipline. Children born into abuse and/or neglect may have suffered physically and, more times than not, have brains wired for fear and self-defense instead of love and positive self-esteem. For us, RAD has a light at the end of the tunnel. It requires unconventional parenting and a long road of reinforcements, unconditional love, and looking beyond the behavior to address the fears.
We are not a family with a challenged child. We are a family challenged. A church family can help. We need prayers and verbal support. Our child needs the space and privacy to heal. Our birth child lives in chaos and needs playdates with youngsters and time alone with Mom and Dad. We need sitters as family members attend therapy.
I nearly broke down in tears when one of my circle members hugged me and said I looked tired. Another emails once-in-awhile. They are there in prayer. Our child’s Sunday School teacher is kept abreast of our counseling so she is part of the therapeutic loop.
We are not experts, but we have endured. We’ve been there. We are there. By the grace of God, we will persevere and can help our child and others along the way.
This is not the route through life we would have chosen but this is where God put us. Life isn’t fair but He has a plan. Our oldest should not have endured trauma/abuse as an infant. God chose us to walk through this earthly life with this dear Child of God. This is our blessing. This is our calling. We will do the best we can – with His guidance and toward His promise of an Everlasting, Perfect Life.
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