Educating the world about Reactive Attachment Disorder through experience, hope, humor and love.
(Warning: nothing here should be taken as medical advice)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Family and Respite

I don't think anybody would ever argue that a parent doesn't need a break from time to time.  In order for a family to stay strong, the parents need time away from the kids to recharge and reconnect.  This is especially true for parents of RAD children - the day to day stresses and challenges that seem to frequently require one to suspend belief that such a thing could be happening take a heavy toll on ones sanity.   This is why adoption and child welfare agencies extoll the value of respite care. 

But what if your RAD isn't adopted and you really have no reason for any "child welfare" agencies to be involved?  You still need to be able to take a break from time to time.  Get that kid out of the house and take a friggen break already!!  Oh, wait.. it's not that easy.  At least it isn't for us.  We have had friends who would take the girls in the past.  Once.  But after the first time, they suddenly begin having every excuse in the book to not watch them again.  So friends are out, which leaves us with family.  Now don't get me wrong, I love my family.  I have 3 wonderful sisters and a mother who, although she isn't perfect, is at least willing to take the girls once a year or so for a night or two.  Yes you read that right... we get 2 nights a year of respite if we're lucky.  I have had offers from my sisters to take them for up to a week at a time but sometimes you have to weigh the good against the bad, and since nobody in my family has any clue whatsoever about RAD, I can't imagine the damage done if they were to have the girls for an entire week.  It's bad enough that it can take weeks to recover from the damage done from just a single night with grandma.

When reading about RAD symptoms I came across this gem that describes things pretty well... "Child is often defiant, angry, and argumentative for the parent but outsiders may never observe this type of behavior.  Many times an outsider might even think the parent is exaggerating, or maybe even causing the child's behavioral problems due to being over-controlling or from poor parenting"

I can't begin to tell you how true that rings with me. My sisters and mother seem to think exactly that - we are over-controlling parents who are the root cause of our daughters issues.  My mom even said to me once "If you would just let up on her a bit she wouldn't feel the need to act out so much".  hahahahahahahaha... ok, let me rephrase that.. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.. ok.. the very LAST thing my RAD needs is unstructured free time to do what she wants.  Yet that is exactly what she gets when she visits grandma, which is why it can take weeks to bring things back under control.  I don't know what's worse - not getting a break, or undoing the damage done when we DO take a break.  Knowing what is coming when the RAD returns certainly makes it hard to enjoy any "down time".  Think about it.... if you knew somebody was waiting to chop your legs off after you finished your Yoga session, would you really be able to relax and get the full benefit from it?  Or would your thoughts be consumed with how much it's going to hurt to have your legs chopped off?  Yeah, me too. 

However, somebody mentioned a possible solution.  There is a 2 DVD set that can be found at called "Give Me A Break" that is designed to provide "information babysitters need in order to be highly effective in providing therapeutic respite/ relief."..  SERIOUSLY??!? OMG... I'm getting me a copy (I know, bad grammar but I'm just that excited).  If it is even half as good and useful as it sounds, I will kiss the ground Nancy Thomas walks on. 

Of course, buying and watching the DVDs is pretty useless... the bigger challenge will be to get the family to set aside their preconceived ideas about my RAD, and watch the DVDs with an open mind... after all "she's perfectly fine here and is an absolute joy to have over!!"



  1. I'm pretty sure your family and my family are related! They have said the same exact thing to me about my RADish. Sigh. Let me know how the DVD's work. Heck, I might even buy them for myself as I haven't a clue as to how to handle her. Ha! Thanks for letting me know I'm not the only one out there dealing with this!

  2. Heather, it seems to be are more common predicament than one would think!

  3. I'm glad you are getting the DVD's - they are VERY useful!