You know very well that Christmas is in only a week. Whatever holidays you celebrate in your family, you’re likely overwhelmed and stressed like many other people nationwide. You’re probably even more ruffled if you have a child with reactive attachment disorder. If so, read the following. Consider it part of your to-do list, if you must.
- First, stop for a moment. Truly take a deep breath—right now. Close your eyes, let your hands relax, and your shoulders down for at least 60 seconds.
Now, remember the following…
- The holidays are probably a difficult time for your child with reactive attachment disorder, but you are not responsible for that pain. As our therapist AJ Bernstein tells parents and other therapists, “You didn’t cause it. You didn’t create it. You’re doing the best you can with what you’ve got.” That’s it. Remind yourself of that simple fact constantly.
- The holidays are what you want them to be in your home. The holidays are stressful for most people but they are much, much more stressful for parents of children with reactive attachment disorder. You’re doing your best to make the holidays joyous for your child suffering from developmental trauma and perhaps other children in your home. Yet, all of the hoopla usually ends in disappointment. In fact, kids with attachment disorder are actually triggered by all the fuss and will work hard to make all of your elaborate plans crumble. Remember yourself. What do you want to do for the holidays? What will be the greatest source of peace for you and your home? And that leads to the next point…
- You MUST take care of yourself. Yes, you’ve heard this before but the old cliché that you need to put on your own oxygen mask before you assist others is absolutely true. Everything is going to fall apart if you’re not healthy and happy both mentally and physically (moms of kids with RAD need to pay close attention to their mental wellness). That’s it. Everyone tells you so and you might even remind yourself from time to time. But what are you doing about it right now?
- Someone created a Houseplant Appreciation Day. You should laugh here because it’s ridiculous. People make up all sorts of things, including how holidays should be celebrated. You are not responsible for any of it. You are not responsible for what people think you should or shouldn’t do for any holiday—not your children, your parents, your neighbors, your children’s teachers, your child’s therapist, or the person who created Houseplant Appreciate Day. Breathe. And laugh some more…
So crumble your to-do this year, take a nap (or realistically, close your eyes for another 60 seconds), and then recollect. Put yourself on the top of that list and remember that whatever you do is the right thing for you and your family. You are present in the life of a child that needs you in his or her life, no matter how much they show and tell you otherwise. What a gift you have given.
The Institute for Attachment and Child Development
p.s. – Here’s that Houseplant Appreciation Day link, along with a lot of other silly notions, if you need the comic relief.