Healing Childhood Trauma

This week on CatholicMom.com, my column deals with the signs parents should watch for in their children that may indicate they are experiencing trauma and need professional help. The source of the trauma varies from child to child and from family to family: divorce, death, separation, neglect, abuse, financial stress, the list goes on. For children touched by adoption or foster care, unresolved trauma from the circumstances that caused them to be separated from their birth families can affect them into adulthood, even if they are loved and supported by their new families. Love, in and of itself, does not always “conquer all.”

What I wish someone had thought to mention to us when we first got our children, is that unresolved trauma can lie dormant for a time — only to bite you in the glutes as the child approaches adolescence. So parents need to keep a watchful eye, especially in children who have been diagnosed with “invisible disabilities” such as autistic spectrum disorders, ADHD, ODD, attachment issues, and so on. And parents of children with a history of abuse and neglect must never let their guard down entirely. Sneakiness and deceit — even with children who are otherwise good and truthful — is part of the disorder.

Another thing I wish had been pointed out to me is that trauma affects parents, too. After years of dealing with acting-out behaviors, your parent brain may not catch the more subtle signs of “something is not right here.” Not only do your kids need help in healing . . . You may also need help in dealing with the stress.

This week’s Gospel, in which Jesus gives dire warnings to those who cause one of his “little ones” to stumble, predicting millstones and a watery destruction, also provide a faint hint of hope to those who hear with the ears of faith. For the Christian, “death by water” has an entirely different connotation than it does for those who have not experienced the “dying with Christ” and “rising to new life” that baptism represents. Through our baptism, we do have all the graces we need to complete the journey. The path is not without suffering, for we follow in the steps of the Savior who suffered and died for us. But as we travel the road together with our children, we can persevere in faith, trusting in the perfect healing that is to come.

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EMN Blogroll …

The other day I noticed that all the wonderful little links that had once filled the right margin had disappeared. So much for “network.”

I’ve now added a dedicated PAGE that you can click on to find what you need. If you’re having trouble, here’s the link.

Also, as long as I’m telling you where to go and what to do, I have a post at “Mommy Monsters” you may find helpful if you have a child that struggles with insomnia. We had Christopher at a specialist yesterday, and she suggested we check his iron levels — apparently ADHD is sometimes treated when in fact the kid is just sleep deprived.

So … “Sleep-Deprived, or ADHD?”

EMN Carnival: Thanks, Mom!

Congratulations to Kate Wicker, who presents the winning entry for this month’s EMN “Moms we love” contest! Her entry, entitled My Nana, is posted at Momopoly. In my favorite bit in the post, Kate recalls asking her grandmother “how she did it.”

“Did what?” Nana asked.

“Had nine kids,” I said. Like duh.

“Oh honey, if God gives you rabbits, He gives you grass,” was her response.

Clearly, Nana was of the God Family Planning mindset. God plans families; couples don’t.

Lori in “Dakotacityquilter” writes: “My mother taught me to accept gifts graciously and always thank the giver–whether it was something we wanted or not!!  And she told me to always hug my kids, she thought she wasn’t a “good mother” as she was always busy and working and didn’t hug us enough.  Hey Mom–you were the best!!”

At “Mommy Monsters,” yours truly offers a tribute of a different kind at “Ghosts of Mothers Past.”

I’d also like to alert you to one of my all-time favorite mother tributes, which I’m reviewing for “Secretum Meum Mihi,” entitled The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less . As I mentioned in my newsletter, I find Evelyn Ryan (the subject of the book and the author’s mother) a truly Extraordinary Mom. She raised 10 children — and upheld her vows before God in a truly difficult marriage — with an amazing combination of faith and tenacity.  Why not order the book now, and give it to your favorite “mommy bookworm” for Christmas?

Lastly, a few posts came through the transom that didn’t really “fit” the theme of this particular carnival, but I’m including them here — lots of good advice for those who need it!

Julie at “More4Kids Parenting and Family” contributed a helpful post for families with children with ADD/ADHD. Along with “Don’t answer when someone asks if your child has taken his meds that day — remind them that everyone has good and bad days,” these four pointers will give you a taste of her helpful, practical advice!

  1. Improve the organization within the home. Order is will help decrease distractions.
  2. Set a regular schedule. This will help your child know when to expect certain things such as “quiet time,” breakfast, lunch and dinner, bedtime, wake up time, practice.
  3. When you or your family talks with your child, make sure that you are making eye contact with the child.
  4. If your child has a list of chores to do, give them one chore at a time and let them complete it before giving them the next. After all, it is a problem with attention we are talking about. Sending them to their room to clean it won’t work. They will go in and start to pick up something and then they start playing with it.

For those who are struggling to cope with a child’s diagnosis of autism, Michelle at “Autism Assistance” sent “Creating an Autism Intervention Action Plan.”

“Therapydoc” at “Everyone Needs Therapy” contributed “Pull versus Draw: Enmeshment” with the observation: “The best moms are the ones that know when to let go, who have the faith in themselves that they’ve taught their kids well enough to think for themselves.”

Thanks to all those who joined this month’s carnival!