Mother’s Day is this Sunday and an especially important day if you and your wife care for a child with developmental trauma (a.k.a. reactive attachment disorder). Whether you’ve realized it yet or not, chances are good that your wife is under an immense amount of stress every day. That’s because most adoptive and foster moms of kids with reactive attachment disorder (RAD) end up “nurturing enemies” through no fault of their own. Simply put, children with RAD fear and push away those who care for them regularly and who also try their hardest to get close to them emotionally.
Kids with RAD push “nurturing enemies” away in subtle and consistent ways that you might not even notice yet. I assure you that your wife notices, however. You may think your wife isn’t the same person she used to be. Honestly, she’s probably not right now but it’s not her fault. She’s worn-out, incredibly distraught and confused, heart-broken, scared, and probably has post-traumatic stress disorder. She needs your help. Mother’s Day is the perfect day to begin, or continue, to support the incredible woman you married.
Here’s what we suggest you do this Mother’s Day—
- If you don’t already know your wife’s love language, figure it out today and plan from there. Ask her to take The 5 Love Languages quiz and give you the results. Plan steps #2 and #3 around her favorite love languages.
2. Make plans to get her out of the house and away from the kids. Whether you go with her or she goes by herself, the one thing your wife needs the most is a break.
3. Go overboard to make your wife feel special. Truly think about who your wife is and what she loves to do, eat, buy, etc. Make those things happen.
4. Take care of the kids, even if you’re not with them. Make sure your wife leaves her phone at home and that you give people your cell phone number Sunday. Take sole responsibility of the kids today whether you take care of them yourself or answer the phone to the sitter (as you step out of the restaurant, of course, so your wife doesn’t hear the conversation.) When you’re with your wife, however, put your phone away and give her your full attention.
5. Ask your children to do something special for her but DON’T force it. Let your kids know that Mother’s Day is this weekend and give them the opportunity to do something special in their own ways. You can hope that they will follow though but you can’t control it. Don’t try. Here’s why – it could backfire on your wife. If you insist that they do something nice for their mom, it creates a battle for control. You may win the battle now but the child may get back at your wife later (remember the nurturing enemy element) with poor behavior or outbursts.
6. Tell her how much you appreciate everything she does with the kids (even if “Words of Affirmation” isn’t one of her top love languages). Whether aloud or in a written card, tell your wife everything you notice and admire about her as a mother. Be specific and only complimentary.
You might not have the ability to take away your wife’s stress or ease her heartache as the child she’s so desperately trying to love pushes her away. The one thing you can do, however, is support her. It’s the most important thing you can do to save your marriage and your family.