Written by Dyan Roosma, therapeutic treatment parent at the Institute for Attachment and Child Development
As a younger mother, I didn’t care to leave the house. My life was chaotic. In my early 20s, I had inherited two children with reactive attachment disorder, had one biological child, and was pregnant with another. Isaac routinely beat up and urinated on the other boys in the house. He kicked me in the stomach often, knowing I was pregnant. At the tender age of seven, he attempted suicide on a regular basis. No, to leave the house wasn’t on my agenda at the time.
That was then. Today, we’re a bustling, active home as therapeutic treatment parents for the Institute for Attachment and Child Development. (Learn about our model here). We have eight children in our home, many whom struggle with reactive attachment disorder. Our busiest times are spring and summer. My husband coaches our sons’ baseball teams at the local high school. Our younger boys play on our local Little League team. On top of sports, we have the end of the school year celebrations, graduations, and dance recitals.
“Overwhelmed” doesn’t begin to describe the feelings that can consume me if I’m not careful. Sometimes, it feels easier to just stay put at home. Yet, life is meant to be lived. Isolation from all of these fun, normal childhood experiences, while tempting, is not always the best course of action for any of us. All of our kids with reactive attachment disorder need more supervision than an average child. Yet, our children are just that—children. They deserve to experience childhood joys that all children deserve.
To venture outside or not? And how?
It’s important to know that some kids aren’t safe enough to engage in extracurricular activities. As your child’s guardian, the safety of your child, yourself, and others are vital. Only you can decide if activities outside of the home are right for you and your family.
If you feel as though your child is safe enough to partake in activities, you may want to consider it. It’s normal to feel stressed at the mere idea of “getting out there”. Yet, activities can prove beneficial for both you and your child. It’ a healthy chance for you to engage with other parents. They don’t have to know your child is different. Chances are, your child will charm them into seeing a perfect little angel. You need socialization outside of your world of parenting that consumes you.
Remember, this does not have to be a full-time thing. In our family, we’re especially busy during the baseball and football seasons. Otherwise, we have a season of rest and don’t allow any activities for our kids. Football season is nowhere close to the business of baseball season and that’s good for us. If sports aren’t your thing, you can try dance or drama class, chess club, or ROTC.
The point is, spring and summer are the times of year that bring life. Take time to evaluate if you are living yours to its’ fullest potential. Remember, the hours are long but the years fly by almost in an instant. You have one chance to live in the precious moments of childhood and parenthood. Whatever you choose is right for you and your family, take a minute to let the sun shine in. You deserve it too.
Other posts for parents of children with reactive attachment disorder: