One of the aspects of parenting a child with a challenging past is getting past...well, the past! Trauma stinks...it changes the way they think, the way they perceive situations, the way they instinctively react. It can warp their ability to express their basic needs and concerns.
When we first met our J.J. he was the oldest 6 yr old I'd ever met. It is very common for children in the system (Foster Care or Institutionalized) to become "parentified" by the system. This means they, oftentimes, take on the adult caregiver roll with younger siblings or children. Yes, even at 6 yrs old he had been "parenting" his 4 yr old brother with such fervor that he was unable to color, do puzzles, or play imaginary anything!
|Marine* in the making?|
|Cuddling with the ornery little one!|
Another misaligned aspect to this realm of trauma deals with pain or illness. He had been conditioned to not show pain or he would receive worse pain. He had been trained to show no signs of discomfort or illness; to simply suck it up and deal with it.
Recently our young man injured himself to the point of serious pain and tears and limping around. My child would walk around hobbling, yet, would not admit to any pain. He had truly been trained to either not register the pain, ignore it completely, or simply endure.
Sometimes I forget about the trauma of the past and how it affects his present state of mind and I get frustrated by the behaviors I see. Once I realized *my* mistake I was able to address his previous training regarding pain...
And the walls came tumbling down!
These children put up walls to protect themselves. They know if they show pain or illness they will be victimized all the more. He's been here for 3 yrs and still learning to trust and let walls down.
It breaks my heart that his heart has been broken down so much. We're still putting the pieces back together again! But unlike that Humpty fellow we know that J.J.'s heart will heal and be whole again!
Take that, trauma!