Family photo 2013

Family photo 2013

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Parenting at Arm's Length

While reading about treatment options for kids who face obstacles in attaching with their adoptive parents, I stumbled across a technique I found interesting. 

Hang on a sec - let me backtrack for a moment. 

Many of the experts seem to agree - typical residential treatment facilities aren't usually very successful in their attempts to rehabilitate young people with RAD. They are often very high structured environments with a rotating staff and very little freedom. So initially, yes, it will appear that kids are overcoming their challenges. They will often enough do quite well in a system such as this. 

Fast forward to transitions back into homes with families and that's when things begin to fall apart again. At home, there is more freedom. It's unusual, difficult (and quite frankly, rather impractical) for parents to structure every moment of every day. Flexibility is required. Kids are expected to bond with their moms and dads and siblings in ways that communicate trust for their folks and a level of affection. They must show self restraint and an obvious development of conscience and the desire to live in a certain degree of harmony with their families. Honesty is paramount for trust to be reestablished. It's often just too much to ask of the kids who return home overwhelmed by all the expectations laid upon them to play their role as family member and child to parents to which they were not born. 

Enter therapeutic strategy employed by one "residential home" I read about. Here, rather than placing kids in a dorm like setting with a bunch of other RAD peers, they set kids in families. With parents. Where they go to school and do chores and eat dinner and do all the normal family type activities. The difference here is that the parents use what you might call "line of sight" parenting. In other words, the kids are basically always within the parents' line of sight. They work together and play together and go to therapy and do life alongside each other. They labor to build the ability for attachment and healthy relationships and the approach has promoted some definite success. All for the bargain price of $200/day! 

Being a little short on the cash supply for such an endeavor, I figured if they can do it, I can do it. 

So, I have. To the best of my limited, untrained, novice, inexpert, uneducated abilities. But hey, I am the biggest wig around here most days, so that counts for something. 

Meadow and I have been best buddies, partners, tethered at the hip for over three weeks now. I've affectionately decided to label it Arm's Length Parenting. She helps me a lot. We hang clothes together and scoop the doggie doo together and make dinner together and exercise together and play games together. She's getting fitter than she ever wanted to! {awesome byproduct!}

Incidents (lying, taking food to eat in the bathroom, hiding people's belongings from them, stealing from siblings, hiding my clothes from me, cutting holes in their brand new, handmade bedroom furniture (!) etc.) that were becoming multiple daily occurrences have reduced to nil, nada, zilch. 

I might even be breathing actual breaths again.

My goal is to remain generally, the majority of the time, within arm's length all summer. 

A bonus to all this time together is that we are bonding. (I'm so freakin fun she can't help but grow to like me.) A little bit. At a rate Meadow will tolerate, which is slower and less close and more awkward than I would prefer, so I must do my work too - acceptance, patience, being a highly predictable parent, the realization that we may never arrive at a point of destination but will remain two sojourning souls wandering down a winding path toward a blessed bit of togetherness. Within Arm's Length of one another...  

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