Taking a Different Parenting Approach

Foster and adoptive mom, Peg, shares how she learned to take a different approach in caring for her children in order to help them heal and thrive.

“It’s very difficult when you have a teenager who is walking around the house cussing and swearing at you and following you from room to room. It’s pretty challenging sometimes. And when you’re in that situation and can’t get away from it . . . I actually thought I was going crazy. I thought I wasn’t doing the right things because we thought, you know if you give them a nice house and you give them lots of love and everything will be okay. But we didn’t address all this stuff they had been through.

“Back when we adopted our first two, probably like 30 years ago, people didn’t understand what trauma meant for kids and what that entailed. And so we lived in an era of if you control your child—that’s about what a parent’s supposed to do, is control your child—you’re a good parent. And what happens with our kids that have been traumatized, [is] they want the control. And so it’s, it’s just a power struggle. It’s just a fight.

“Um, our daughter was pretty violent. Um, throwing things at me, attacking me, oppositional kind of behaviors where she was, you know, smashing the doors . . . When a child is struggling, we need to figure out why they’re struggling and not take it as a personal attack. Because what they do oftentimes is try to sever that relationship with you through being really mean and nasty. What we figured out with my daughter is she was going to throw away the people before they could throw her away. She was gonna get rid of you before you could hurt her and throw her away, but we never gave up.

“Trauma-informed parenting is really stepping back and taking a different approach to parenting, understanding their behaviors and why they’re acting out and how the brain changes when a child is traumatized and getting new tools in your toolbox to help you be able to help your child and take pride in those little moments. You know that and realize that you are making a difference.

“Well, I got a letter from one of my daughter’s teachers just saying how amazing she was and how she helped out and did everything, and it was this fancy card she took time to make and I went, okay, we’re okay. We’re doing something right. My kids are amazing. They’re, they’re wonderful and they’re worth every second.”

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