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Struggling to 'fake it.....'(30 Posts)
I know I have been on here before and explained my worries at not bonding with my DS. I know lots of you are struggling but I am so worried that I'm doing so badly at the 'faking it until you make it' bit. I'm struggling every minute to fake it. I'm not even sure I am faking it.
We have had 2 sibling brothers since January. Bonding with younger DS (4) no probs but older one (7) is such a struggle. I am worried that I am doing more harm than good.
DH and I are very experienced with traumatised children and are used to being hit and screamed at in our day to day jobs. We fully expected it from adopted children. However, the shock of 2 fully fledged lads upon our lives-- probably not that prepared!
DS1 is extremely controlling and manipulative. He wants our attention/attachment all the time and although I am generally keeping calm and am playing with him. A lot of what we say is quite therapeutic I think and we are trying hard every day. But the bottom line is- he irritates the fuck out of me. The guilt is horrendous and every day I pledge to do better but I have no energy.
Has all come to a bit of a head today as he soiled at school. He does have issues with toilet ing. Part of me thinks that the behaviours are testing us now that we are more settled and in routines but I am worried that he knows how I feel and that I am doing more damage than good.
I kind of need to know if this level of un attachment on my part is normal but I also wonder if family therapy would be useful in this situation?
Thank you in advance x
I have only bio children. I went through being hit and soiling with my dc. Such a challenge. Out of interest weird question I know are the boys bendy/hypermobile?
Not particularly. But thanks.
It's not the hitting and soiling that I find hardest. I expected those things. What I find so hard is how annoying I find him about the littlest of things. I can only liken it to when you realise that you don't love your partner anymore and everything they do is annoying even though it once wasn't.
I'm worried that the hitting and soiling is as a result of me not building attachments well enough, rather than his past. Even though I know it is of course his past....I. Just feeling low!
It's such early days don't be so hard on yourself, he is of course going to be testing yours and DH boundaries to the limit, your consistent calm response will help him feel safe, something he might not have felt before. Also, another thing that might be causing him difficulty is he used to playing a caring role to his little brother? It will be a big adjustment to let and trust you to take over.just some thoughts.
There is no harm looking into physical causes, not everything is psychological. A gastro specialist may be a good start.
What is their quality of sleep like?
I felt like that at times with my bio children. Like in a marriage you have ups and downs in parenting.
Another tip find a board game like snakes and ladders, short and not many pieces if tempers are lost. Old maI'd can be fun or snap. Just to get more good times going.
firstly your feelings are normal. It is so so bloody hard when you're building the bond. You ARE doing it, a tiny scrap at a time every day, but it's impossible to see until you're out the other side and can look back.
Of the four elements of PACE parenting (playful, accepting, curious, empathic) I found the "playful" one the most challenging when I was exhausted and scared and a million other things from trying to cope - never mind trying to bond as well.
Personally, I would take every kind of support you can lay your hands on, either directly through post-adoption support, or through accessing the funding through the Adoption Support Fund (there's another thread on this board about that). If you can get help building attachment and help for your boys to process the huge transition, definitely do it. I see a clinical psych with my LO, who specialises in attachment and uses theraplay techniques with LO. It is hard work but it definitely helps.
Get support, and lots of it - you are doing a really, really hard thing and please don't feel you have to try and do it unaided.
findingherfeet- thank you. The sibling this is definitely another big issue. Quite possibly some caring though no one has mentioned this but a lot of jealousy as both were treated very differently in birth family.
Joanhickson- fortunately sleeping is one good thing. Fingers crossed, touch wood, at the moment lol. Board games are actually quite good. He remarkably copes with losing not too badly.
Bad fairy- I soooooo appreciate knowing that I am not alone. Thank you. Like you, the playful bit is so hard. I go through the motions but I have to force it. A lot. I am definitely fighting for support for DS1. Have some coming up (pre order) and some going to be lined up for afterwards- therapy wise. School are good too. But yes, looking for something for me/ us too. We also have safe base coming up in a couple of months.
What do you like about your children? Focus on that. It's hard when you are coping with that roiling feeling in your stomach, the frustration, exhaustion, pure panic about how hard it is. Pp have given great advice. I just want you to know you are not alone dealing with these very difficult feelings. and hugs
In terms of more support for you, if you have a non-judgy wise friend (hen's teeth territory, I know) I've found it helpful to schedule regular phone calls with mine specifically to offload. It's a totally different type of chat to a normal friendship, and I was very open about what I needed. I do talk to her at other times and listen to what's going in her life, promise, but the booked calls are for me to let it all out. I often find those calls help me to see patterns in behaviour, or think of a new idea, or just feel a bit better about myself when things are a bit grim.
Sounds quite normal to me for a 7 year old to be attention seeking/manipulating to get time with his Mum. I find it helps to devote some time early in the morning and at night specifically to cuddling and affection. Tends to turn round your own feelings too and giving willingly works better than it being demanded. Think bio children just the same. It depends on the child themselves.
I think because you care so much about being irritated/ finding him annoying- you feel guilty, you're worried about him... It shows you're actually 'making' rather than just even faking it.
Don't be so hard on yourself. I don't have experience with adoption but bio children can also be sodding annoying as well! Totally recognise what you mean re an annoying partner!!
4 months is no time at all - you are far too hard on yourself
I foster children with attachment issues and have not felt 'it' for extended periods of time. I totally hear how hard you're working and I bet your son doesn't know you're not feeling it yet. His sole goal is to push you and pull you to prove that you're not really there for him.
The point is you are. Every day you show up - as calm as you can be, faking it, bribing the energy, doing the reassurance.
Can I just suggest one thing to make it easier on you - get him interested in something like martial arts, Scouts, football so that you can loosen the elastic a little and that you're not always physically present.
I've found the toughest times I've had have been extended holiday periods like the 7 week summer break. I used activity camps, tennis lessons, swimming lessons (with me there) to just loosen the bond while maintaining it.
Just try really hard to not be so hard on yourself Its really incredibly hard to feel the love as well as do the action of love when they're too scared to accept it.
Thank you everyone. Really needed this. Love that last comment lauriefairycake!
We are on the tack of clubs. Already in beavers and looking into other things like karate and football. 1 day holiday clubs etc
DH a and I also take 1 each when we can on a weekend then swap at lunchtime. Hopefully aids bonding but also gives each other a break.
I know you are working hard to be therapeutic and to hide your irritation etc. But do you get time to relax and has he seen the unguarded real warts and all you yet? If not, maybe he will be able to trust you more if you can trust him to see this side of you too. Maybe you are already there, but I was surprised that the first time our lo showed genuine affection to me was after I'd not very prettily lost it and ended up a sobbing mess. It's just a thought but I also echo others in saying that 4 month is very short even though it feel forever and just hang in there. And watch him sleep.
I too think you are being unnecessarily hard on yourself, it is indeed very early and I do think that the big benefit with a younger child is that you get to bond with them a bit more before you get hit with dealing with the problem behaviour.
And anyone who says that bio children can be irritating too has no conception of just how irritating it really is when you're joined at the hip to a child who who more issues than the norm and you really don't love them (yet).
It's a whole new level of torture!
Personally I was transformed when my mum offered to babysit one evening a week and I went to an acqua class - the combination of escaping for a couple of hours and getting some exercise gave me a new lease of life.
Try a few things that regenerate you - one of them might work enough to give you the wherewithal to keep going.
Good luck, it's not easy in the early stages.
I agree with everyone else, but I would also suggest that you try to do something each week with ds1 that he enjoys without his brother. Try to make it special time for just you and him.
Do you have friends with children of similar ages? I found my summers were bearable because once a week we met with children and did something fun - went to the park or the beach together, whatever.
It can be isolating, stuck with a couple of children you are struggling to "like" let alone love, but it does get better. For me, it was only when we had dd for almost 9 months and it looked like the adoption was going to fall through that I realised I loved her.
I would agree that 4 months is early early days- and I think sometimes adopters mistake the initial excitement and adorable face for love, it isn't always. I would have laid down my life for my son almost from the very beginning but it wasn't 4 months in before I looked at him and felt the tug of my heart it was longer than that.
Seven is a VERY difficult age for all children, culturally and historically across the world you will see lots of significant lines are drawn in childhood around the age of 7- but for adopted children it is a hard age around, there is the sense of self-who am I -who are you- I am changing thing going on.
I do think at the age of 7 there is an urge to push them on to the next level, almost an instinct and you find you have some of that going on inside of you.
The next tricky age seems to be around 9.
7 is not an easy age- and it is a hard age to parent.
It is common for adopters who worked with disturbed children in their jobs to think, yep I can do this, I know what to do, but actually to survive your professional life, you need to build in a detached step back and it is a huge shock to the system when you are not working with that detachment to face the rawness of it. During melt downs I used to try and keep a space in my mind for calm, when he was raging, I needed to almost run that off after the event but it helped me-and I realised after a while I used to do something similar at work when confronted with dangerous or difficult people. I could fake it, whilst distancing myself from the explosion of the meltdown a little bit which helped me be more present for him- could you work on similar techniques?
Watch him when he is sleeping- when DS was very hard to handle, I found it helpful to look at him whilst he slept, try it and see if you get what I mean. Just spend a few moments watching him if you can. Murmur stuff that you want to say quietly if you think he wont wake up- I think some of it does go in.
MAKE TIME FOR YOU
In the day find a few minutes or an hour for a you thing
Find a day as often as you can to recharge, it doesn't have to be weekly
Join a slimming club or a class something that is a regular commitment to you that you have to be at for an hour or so a week
Try keeping a journal have a look at the three pages of mind stream- I have found morning pages really helpful since DC2 was placed, but haven't always been able to do them in the morning juliacameronlive.com/basic-tools/morning-pages/
Find your child's language of love- and try to work on that, is it gestures gifts, words, affection or time, and focus on that.
Buy the things he likes to eat-and leave them for him to find and enjoy (be aware as placement goes through phases his favourite foods will change)
Ask for help for you
Ask for Theraplay for you and him and the family
Make time to go outside-walks swings whatever and when ever things get really bad step outside as a family if you can, alone if you can't.
Feeling the love is like looking for a bus, it wont come until you aren't looking out for it.
We also had siblings placed with us in January (DS5& DD3) and at times I have seriously struggled with her behaviour and need to be first/involved as well as toileting issues. She disrupts everything and I'd just be so cross that we couldn't ever have a "nice day".
The patience with her seems to be working though as this last week she has been much better.
Hang in there and keep doing what you're doing. Every Saturday my DH takes them out for a walk in the woods and to the cafe for lunch. They love "Daddy time" and I love having 4 hours just to potter around without noise and 2 children hanging off me. It sets me up to be Fun Mummy for the rest of the week!
Joan- she has hypermobility. I'm curious why you asked about this. Was it to do with toileting issues?
Hats off to you, I've struggled massively with one much younger one. Completely agree that time out for you can help to restore your sanity. Also confiding in a friend that totally gets it, if you don't have any (I didn't, my friends just wanted to seek rainbows and happy ever after) then feel free to pm, or keep posting.
What you are doing is really really REALLY hard. Stop the guilt, your feelings are normal. It is hard to love anyone who pushes and needles and tests you to the limit. But it will get easier. I found keeping insanely busy the best way of coping. Out every morning and afternoon, lots of parks, play dates, stuff your lets eat organically and get to macdonalds when you're having a really bad day.
Safe base worked wonders for us. It sounds so simplistic, but finding ways to have shared moments of fun and attunement, plus meeting other adopters who were also struggling felt like a lifeline.
We thought about disrupting so many times in the first 6 months, so I don't say this lightly - things really will get better.
Oh Kazza I feel for you. But like the others have said it is normal. I was the same I couldn't bare being around DS most of the time! I ended up depressed. I counted down the hours each day. It wasn't until at least 6 month + I started to enjoy his company. Even then it wasn't a constant thing. Good days. Bad days. And it wasn't just a sort of irritation I know parents often feel. It was a complete and utter overwhelming what have I done, I just didn't like him at times! BUT as time past, I enjoyed his time more, then the love slowly came. I'm not in a position where I believe I experience just "usual" parental irritations.
The only advice I can offer is to not overthink it. And not be hard on yourself, it will come. He is older & has a fully formed little personality, he has probably learnt how to be a lot more manipulative. I think it's harder as they're older. Our DS is now 6. He was 4.
I've rambled on, but please know you're not alone, take care
I am hugely sympathetic - I found it very, very hard in the early months and I adopted a very cute 10 month old. You are doing something enormously challenging and you must be exhausted.
All I can add to what others have said is that there can't be many people out there who would not share your feelings in this situation, or who would do better. It is very hard. It will get better. Looking after yourself is essential.
Kazza I am so sorry it is so hard.
I think there is lots of good advice here.
Our son came to us a year ago. He is the cutest little boy in the world and often very well behaved and quite bright BUT he has some INCREDIBLY annoying habits which totally grate on me.
Today he hit me and I was so angry I wanted to hit him back! I did not. I put my arms around him quite tightly and spoke into his ear and told him I was VERY angry at him hitting me and his punishment would be he would not be going to explore the Taekwan-do class next week. He wouold hvae to wait another week. Of course, as I coudl have predicted, he burst into tears!Later on that night I again explained to him how naughty it was to hit people but that I know he was a a good kind boy (or whatever) and that even when he was naughty and I did not like his behaviour, I still loved him.
I am saying all this because when these things happen (like him bursting into tears for virtually no reason, shouting and getting angry when the TV is switched off or when his sister 'walks too close to him' or gets dressed before him etc etc) they kill off some of my love (temporarily) for him. I think it is very important to let children know when the behaviour is unacceptable and to show that you are important too (e.g. hitting me isn't acceptable) but also to find things that build connection as much as possible.
I must admit I pretty much hate playing with my son, it's boring, and it is not fun because he gets very upset if it doesn't go the way he wants! But some things, like card games, board games and a bit of role play, are not quite so bad! Playing ball in the swimming pool is actually fun. So I need find those things that are not too bad, put my heart and soul into them for a short while and then channel him off in direction of something else. I never really had to play with my daughter (now 10, birth daughter) She is very creative and made up her own games. But we did find things to do together like making a rocket out of cereal boxes or a hamster outfit out of tissue paper (not sure we ever put it on the hamster).
So in addition to all the other good advice (and I second LOUDLY to get any help that you can, really anything that will support you or your son or anyone else in the family)....
Make a list of the games and activities that you find best
Make a list of the games and activities that he finds best
Mix it up a bit so you are both doing things you either enjoy or do not find too arduous.
I have found art and craft stuff is not too hard to do as I sometimes get into it and make whatever it is he is making 9or my dd is making) so buy enough of the kits/packs etc so you can do things too.
Keep a record of the good times, even if they are few and far between. Write down when he does anything good or fun so you can reflect on it later. And don't forget to tell him how well he got his shoes on or remembered his coat or whatever.
Take some nice photos of him and with him, and your dh and your other son. Look at them together and compliment him. the more positive stuff he hears the more chance you will hear it back.
How do you distinguish between the boys? I've got a girl and a boy so I say I've got the best, most beautiful girl in the world and the best most handsome boy etc! As you have two boys I would listen to see how other parents with two boys or two girls distinguish between them.
I guess for me I might be tempted to say something like clever artist or footballer or Taewkwan-do boy! The obvious temptation is big boy and little boy but that will soon not work as the four year old will not always want to be little boy! you could just use their names. For me 'my special/fabulous Cassidy' and 'my special/fabulous Cassius' (not their real names).
Anyway, this is way longer than intended.
I mus admit over the past year I have wondered if I have done the right thing and whether I can love him enough and all manner of very scary stuff. But I do feel that we did the right thing, we do love him and the love will grow, but we are a year on and it is only in the last few months things have got better.
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