Parenting children is hard. I think it's a hard job no matter how "neuro-typical" your child is. Sometimes the hardest thing about it is knowing how thankless of a job it is. Sure - eventually your child will (you hope) learn to appreciate all the sacrifices and hardships you went through for them, but other than the rare moments, that doesn't usually happen until they've moved out.
Of course, in typical RAD fashion, these kids take it to a whole other level. These are children who, in their drive to protect themselves at any cost, will step on anybody to keep their head above water and keep breathing. For them it's a matter of survival. But even knowing this doesn't make it easy to swallow when it happens to you. It's easy to remain clinical and detached when it's happening to somebody else. After all, that's how these kids are wired and it shouldn't be taken personally. But when you're the one being stepped on and you realize that all you've done, all you've given up, is - if even for a minute - worthless in your childs eyes, it's a horribly painful stab in the heart.
When I was growing up I had more than enough reason to hate my parents. Not in the typical "you made me clean my room when I wanted to go play baseball so now I hate you because you're ruining my life" kind of way, but a "you sick bastard, how could you do that to a child, you deserve to rot in hell" kind of way. But even with that, I was always protecting and defensive of them. After all, they were my parents. I knew that even in their own weird way, they loved me. They weren't perfect (farrrrr from it), but I knew I would never have to worry about food, clothing or shelter.
As for me, I may not be the perfect parent either, but I'm 10x better than my parents were, and my children are safe. So when I read on Facebook this morning a comment from one woman to my soon-to-be 17 year old that "the suffocation is about to be over!" in a context that can only refer to her turning 18 and moving out, it was a slap to the face. This is the same woman that was bringing my daughter food every morning (laden with carbohydrates even though she knew my daughter is a diabetic.. and she's a nurse?) and then called CPS on my to report I wasn't feeding my daughter (despite my having my cupboards and fridge stocked with food).
I know this woman has been totally misled by my daughter - she makes the perfect RADsnack, eating up everything my daughter has told her in the past and turning it all into "oh poor you!", which my daughter just loves. And I know my daughter has, in the past, tried to turn every relationship into that "poor you" - no matter what she had to say or do to make it so. But she has matured so much lately. So many of those behaviors have dropped away and we have made so much progress that it was even that much more of a shock to read that comment.
She obviously is still milking that "relationship" for whatever she can, and she's willing to do it at my expense. That tells me we haven't made nearly as much progress as I had thought. I've read many stories of parents whose RADs had moved out of the house and continued their hurtful behaviors. I've watched how sad that makes these parents who gave it their all but couldn't overcome the damage done to these children at such a young age. Then I've looked at all the progress we've made with my daughter and thought "I'm so glad that won't be me"
I can't say that with confidence any longer....