Grace . . . fully

By:  Julie Beem

When she looked at me, her eyes were filling with tears.  She had just heard me say, and expound upon, the idea of reviewing your therapeutic parenting responses at the end of the day to see where you had done well and where things had not gone so well.  “Just like professional athletes,” I advised, “we need to review those game tapes every day, learning from what worked and what didn’t.”

Parent and ChildI didn’t intend for my words to bring about the pain I saw on her face.  “How do I forgive myself at the end of every day?” she started.  “I can see so many things I wish I hadn’t reacted to, and so many things I wish I had done differently.”  Her words swelled emotions in me and I was quiet for a moment, weighing how what I was about to say would be received.

“I give myself the same kind and amount of grace that I give my child,” I responded.  GRACE.  I realize that word is loaded with religious meaning.  Using it in a public setting is risky.  But I know of no other word that captures what we must be able to extend to our children…and ourselves if we’re going to continue daily therapeutically parenting them.  The language I use with my daughter is “do-overs”, and we have an infinite supply of “do-overs” at our house.  When she recognizes she needs one (that’s a good day), all she has to say is “do-over” and the grace is extended.  Mommies and daddies need “do-overs” too.

Parenting my traumatized child is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  I’ve made mistakes each and every day.  Without extending grace to myself, I’d be hopeless.  And at my house, and at ATN, we’re not hopeless…

Consider the meaning of grace when you find yourself at the end of another hard day.  The Free Dictionary offers this definition:
a. a disposition to be generous or helpful; goodwill
b. mercy or clemency
c. a favor rendered by one who need not do so; indulgence
d. a temporary immunity or exemption; a reprieve

Julie has been ATN's Executive Director since 2009. She joined the organization in 2004 after finding incredible support from fellow ATNers when she was searching for answers about her own daughter's early childhood trauma and attachment disorders. Julie leads a staff of passionate professionals and acts as spokesperson for the organization. Prior to ATN, Julie was the president of a marketing and communications consultancy, The Epiphany Group, and has over two decades of experience in professional services marketing, strategic planning and communication strategies. As a graduate of Partners in Policymaking and through personal experience, Julie has garnered a great deal of experience in the areas of special education, school issues, and disabilities advocacy. A published author, Julie wrote a chapter in the EMK Press Adoption Parenting book and was the special needs blogger at Adoptionblogs.com for two years. She frequently presents workshops on attachment and trauma to local and national groups. Email Julie. Julie holds an MBA from Avila College in Kansas City and was a Certified Professional Services Marketer. Julie, and her husband Dave, are parents to four (bio, step and adoptive), including their youngest daughter, adopted from China. This daughter’s attachment difficulties and developmental trauma disorder have changed their lives significantly…in amazing ways.

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