wounded children, healing homes, part 2

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

We spent quite a bit of time talking about what life is like with a traumatized child. I feel like this is just one of those things that you get if you've been there, and if you haven't, then there's no amount of explaining in the world that can really make you understand. At least that's what I feel I was like before entering this world. The caregiver's response is the key to parenting traumatized children. According to Jayne, there are 3 main elements:

  • Believing and validating their child's experiences (A child must be believed. Must have their experiences affirmed within the safe context of family.)
  • Tolerating the child's affect (We are currently living with a myriad of behaviors that we never imagined ourselves tolerating as parents.)
  • Managing their own emotional reactions (This is the kicker.)
The emotional reaction thing is key for us right now. Not only is it difficult to manage our reactions, sometimes it's impossible. We know that the more out of control Mr. B is, the more regulated we need to be. But living through the pain with him is trying at best. That brings me to one of the most important parts of this book and information: vicarious trauma.

Vicarious trauma is the cumulative impact of a child's trauma, stories, behaviors, and reenactments on the foster/adoptive parents. Vicarious traumatization is a transformation of a parent's inner self resulting from an empathic, compassionate connection to a child who has experienced trauma. (The Traumatized Child) This is really where I feel like we're living right now. Our entire family is in this really traumatic time in our lives because of how Mr. B and Baby R have impacted our home. I feel like Wendell and I have to enter into Mr. B's pain, which we are doing, no doubt, but we also have to be strong enough to stand back up and lead him out of it.

Can I believe and validate my child's pain?
Can I tolerate the affect that that pain brings into his life and behavior?
Can I manage my emotional reactions?

These are really questions that I have to answer every single day. Every single moment of the day. Especially during this extremely difficult and volatile time when I'm learning more about my child's pain every day, and when his affect is changing day to day. Many times I fail. More often I succeed. Only through God's grace are we going to make it through this. Only through God's grace will my children heal fully.

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