November 19, 2014
By: Deborah A. Novo
“Doesn’t he know how good he has it? He has no clue how lucky he is to have all that he does. Why does he still sabotage everything he does? Why does he always have to learn the hard way? Why does he still lie, you can’t believe a word he says. It is time for him to grow up. Where is his loyalty? He doesn’t care about a damn thing. Why isn’t that Attachment Therapy working?
These are the intermittent thoughts of extended family members after 15 years of involvement with our older teenager and young adult with a history of Reactive Attachment Disorder. Every time the bottom falls out they struggle to grasp how someone can seemingly can move in a forward direction only to abruptly and forcefully put it in reverse.
Sometimes, I feel frustrated when I hear their words. I have explained the profound effects of neglect on the brain and the heart to help them understand this complex emotional illness. However, I do understand because I often think the same things.
Last week, if I had any forewarning about what we were going to hear I would have invited them all to be flies on the wall. It is common for RAD kids to use their actions to reflect how they feel and uncommon for them to articulately convey their broken belief systems. Our family would have been enlightened and disheartened to hear one of our sons explaining his truth:
“ Sharing feelings makes you weak.” “It is dangerous and not normal to rely on anyone.” “If I let you be my parents and then you die, I will die.” “I know I screw up but at least it’s an existence.”
When family members are affected by RAD behaviors we encourage them to consider our sons like the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz and interact with them as such. The lion admittedly is not very brave and the only way he changes his fortune is through practice. In spite of his fears, he chooses to practice courage through various actions in the movie.
Sometimes, we need to offer our sons inspiration when choosing their steps throughout the day. They are very familiar with the Wizard of Oz and therefore it is only natural for us to frequently and respectfully ask two questions:
“What type of Lion would you like to practice being today?”
“What actions do you need to take today to be that courageous Lion?”