I know my daughter is beautiful. I know her eyes are often filled with sadness. I know she leaps into your arms like she’s known you for years. I know it warms your heart that she wants your attention…and the attention of everyone at the grocery, library, church, park, birthday party, and mall. I know you think you can fill this void for her.
I know that you think she just needs your love. I know you think she knows real love. Affection has been confusing for her. Congeniality is a means to survival. Love has been conditional for her. Please do not kiss her, hug her, or hold her.
read more at: Don’t Save My Child | Confessions of a Parent.
This quote is so true about my daughter — made worse by the fact that, living in the South, everyone hugs everyone. It’s just expected. Hey, I’m from California — we don’t hug unless we know you. Even then, we have to really like you.
On the other hand, my daughter always wants to hug everyone. If they’re small enough, she’ll pick them up in a bear hug (usually not appreciated by the recipient, judging by their faces). Her need to hug extends to kids she rides the school bus with if she sees them somewhere else. After all, they’re her “best” friend and she “loves” them. Adults fare slightly better — she can’t pick them up. She will however approach from behind and without warning. Is she doing this because she has such a gregarious personality? I don’t think so. Neither does her therapist. We believe she’s trying to leave a trail of breadcrumbs in case things don’t work out with her current mom (me). See, in her reality, moms don’t stay and when they leave it’s really scary having to wait for another one. Better to start cutting a path into someone else’s family so they’ll take you home when mom leaves you behind.
Because of the free flowing use of the hug as a means of saying hello — even at school between teachers and students — my daughter doesn’t feel the need to be an active participant in our family. She gets all the “love” she needs at school. I believe that in her heart she believes that her teacher would adopt her if something happened to me (my daughter has gone so far as to tell me that she wants to be adopted by her teacher). That really doesn’t help us overcome the attachment and bonding issues we’ve been working on for years.
We also have the dilemma caused by the fact that life with her birth family was probably absolute chaos to an infant — a chaos that ended when she was taken and placed in institutional care. Her emotional memory is locked into believing that “family” equals chaos that ends badly, “school” equals stability that can be trusted. Mom equals “family,” therefore mom equals everything bad that ever happened to her as an infant. It’s a daily struggle to remind myself that it isn’t me she has a problem with, it isn’t me she’s arguing with and refusing to obey, it’s the whole idea of mom that causes so much resistance. Reading that blog this morning reminded me of the struggle my daughter goes through every day. Writing this post now is partly to help remind myself to look beyond my own feelings and see the hurting child.
The other part of this blog post is to express the need for friends, neighbors, teachers, and casual onlookers to take a step back in time and put parents back in the headship role over kids. I wish adults would talk to me first, before approaching my daughter. I have to set boundaries for her that address her needs and are based on her level of emotional development. Unfortunately when well-meaning adults mention something to her first, I’m put in the very awkward situation of having to say no to her. Repeatedly. Each time doing damage to our relationship. What she doesn’t know doesn’t hurt her, in so many ways.
Another pet peeve (I’m just venting now), when did it become acceptable for an adult to have a “grown up” conversation with a kid? My daughter is 10 — what could you possibly have to say to her that wouldn’t be better said to me directly? I shouldn’t have to ask you not to engage my daughter in conversation — nor feel the need to explain to you that she can’t understand what you mean. Why should I have to explain to her that when you said “maybe” she could come to your house/play with your dogs/watch your tv what you really meant was “no?” A better answer from you would have been, “I’ll have to talk to your mom.” Is it really so hard to gently remind a child that all authority has been given to her parent(s)?
Ooh boy… I feel more grievances wanting to come out so I think I’ll cut this post off now and save them for later. lol As my closing piece of advice (or plea for mercy), if you know that a child is adopted or in a foster home please go to the parents first before you do anything with or for that child, no matter how inconsequential you might think it is. Then, listen to the parents. Try to be understanding of their position even if you don’t agree. You aren’t in their shoes, and no matter how normal you might think their child is, you don’t know how the trauma of the past is being played out at home.