Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Lack of Affection and its effect on children

A baby is born. It is taken to the mother who has, let's say, bi-polar disorder. She has not sought help for her disorder but uses drugs and alcohol to self medicate.  She looks at the baby and turns away. When asked if she wants to hold the baby she says no. When asked if she is going to breast feed she turns up her nose and says "No. Give him a bottle." They arrive home to chaos. They baby has no crib but is laid in a dirty play pen in the corner. Loud music blaring, smoke in the air, many people coming and going.  Mom begins to party with her friends. The baby has a bottle propped in it's mouth now and then and is changed when the smell is bad enough. As a toddler the baby is hit when it cries and shoved out of the way. Men come and go from moms life. Some are ok. Some are abusive. Perhaps sexually.  Social Services comes and removed the preschooler from his home and puts him in foster care. By this time the preschool age child is flipping people off and dropping the f bomb freely. He has seen porn, watched his mom have sex with various men and perhaps had to do so himself.  The first foster home can't handle his behaviors so he is moved. The second foster home has to move to another town, so he is moved. The third foster home has a foster child who sexually abuses him behind closed doors......  and then the child is adopted.

He has reactive attachment disorder. This is no child in particular but many children fit this discription.

Another child is born. His parents can't wait to hold him and look into his eyes. He is told how much he is loved. He is kept clean. His cries are answers by loving words and kind eyes. He is held. He is cherished. His first steps are greeted with cheers and video cameras. He is read too. He has grandparents who hug him and smother him with kisses. He is loving disciplined. He is gently potty trained. His parents may not have much money but he knows he is loved. He is a confident happy preschooler ready for his first day of preschool.

Attachment to our primary caregiver makes all the difference in the world as to how our brains work. Attachment makes us fell loved and safe. It gives us the ability to trust. Our children have been hurt. We must give them structure, love, safety.  Never lose sight of the amount of hurt and damage neglect did to their brains as babies. They are so scared and it comes off as anger. Inside is a frightened little child who needs to learn to love.

Never, never, never quit.


Julie said...

There is world of difference between the two, isn't there? We have experienced both with our children. It makes me angry to think two of our boys were in your first scenario. We CAN make a difference and we have. Our boys show loving affection now - but were limp noodles when they came to us. Praise God for healing.

J. said...

we do a night in PRIDE where we do a very similar sort of comparison, it is always very powerful for parents who do not understand what it means to have attachment. It is always a good reminder. thanks.

BeckyJoie said...

Excellent descriptions.

Jennie said...

to every person that tells me that my daughter couldn't possibly still be suffering from the abuse and trauma she endured from the uterus to age 11 months, I am going to send them to the link for this post! Gosh, you might be inundated with visitors because there have been MANY people that scoff at me when I tell them how my child became impaired. they just think I'm a looney!

Brenda said...


I'm sorry you her that so much. I hope you have a good support system as well.

BT said...

Great post. Just makes it so clear. But it hurts my heart reading it laid out so succinctly.

Anonymous said...

Opulently I to but I contemplate the post should prepare more info then it has.

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Brenda said...


The photo is from here:

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Anonymous said...

On a good day, I know all this is right. I know. But right now we are in a string of bad days and at times like this I barely care what her past was like. I can't see past my own pain. I know that makes me a bad mother . . . more concerned with my own pain than my child's (as if she is my child, it certainly doesn't feel that way). What about when you have nothing else to give, when you can't even feel sympathy for her past anymore.

Brenda said...


It is very important during these times to follow these simple directions.

Fine support (therapist, friends, family)

Use respite and get away for at least 24 hours,

Up your time out and taking care of yourself. You sound like you are depleted

Consider counseling for yourself to talk about yourself and how this effects you.

Realize it IS very very hard but doable if you do the above.

When relating with your daughter "fake it til you make it" just do and say the right things becuse you should.

Take care of yourself spiritually, physcially and emotionally. You deserve it. You can still be happy while raising a child with RAD but it takes a conscientious on your part to remember yourself. (((((((hugs)))))))

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Brenda. Your advice makes sense . . . I don't know. We have been snowed in and on top of each other for days now. That's not good for anyone. She seems to have a cold, but far be it for her to say anything to me. When I ask, she denies it (while she sniffles and sneezes and oozes and goozes). Of course, I can see for myself that she is sick and, yet, really, I barely care. What is wrong with me. I am turning into a monster, if I was not one already.

Anonymous said...

Thank you.

What an amazing post.

I don't have children with RAD. But I have battled endlessly with family and friends about my choices to honour, love and respect my children to created that amazing bond and attachment.

What great insight!