Last Saturday was March 7. Sugar was recovering from surgery. We had planned on attending the Beyond Consequences Live Conference. Actually, we had been excited for quite a while...see this post. Anyway, as Friday wore on and I became more and more sure Sugar was heading into surgery, I began to grieve that I was going to miss my conference. :-( Call me selfish...
Several people tried to convince me that they could take care of Sugar just as well as me, and that I should go. But I'm the mom. I can't leave my poor baby after her first surgery.
So I sent Daddy to the conference.
Halfway through the morning, my best friend came up to the hospital with her daughter - Sugar's best friend. Sugar was so happy to have her friend. She was very perky and comfortable. My friend asked again if she could stay at the hospital and let me go to the conference. By the way, the conference was located kitty-corner across the highway from the hospital - literally five minutes away.
I asked Sugar what she thought....
"See ya, Mom. I'll be fine."
So I went. :-D
I got there about 11:15 am, grabbed a chair at the back of the room and a box to put my leg on. Everyone was very gracious to me, quietly getting me settled. I didn't get to hear much before the lunch break, because the Doctor called during rounds and talked to me about discharging Sugar.
At the lunch break, we grabbed something to-go, and headed back to the hospital to sign the discharge papers. We got back to the conference at 2:00. From 2:00 to 4:00, I gave my total attention to learning how to parent a child with a trauma history.
The conference was outstanding. First, I've read the book, Beyond Consequences, Logic and Control by Heather T. Forbes. It has the potential to be life changing if I can consistently implement what she says.
But the conference was such an encouragement to me. First of all, it was encouraging just to be in the room with so many others who are making an effort to help their kids with previous trauma experience. Mrs, Forbes is an engaging speaker with a vast knowledge of the issues. She did role plays, which actually show you what it looks like to parent this way. We watched videos, and with great insight, she showed us how to "listen" to a kid's behavior. She reminded us to remind ourselves of those "magic moments" in parenting, when we fall in love with this dear child all over again.
So, what did I learn?
I've read lots of attachment books, some better than others. What most of those books focus on is "This child has got to learn...". Truly, an adopted kid has to learn a whole new system, a whole new way of thinking, a whole new life. The trouble is, when you have lived through trauma, you live in a state of stress. When we are stressed out, logic goes out the window. Learning can't take place in this "stressed out state". At the moment of deepest distress, they just need you to be calm, be present, and listen. The teachable moments come later, when the child can accept the instruction.
I learned to listen to my children's behavior. Each kid is unique and this is going to take some time to really, really get to know what each kid is saying with his/her behavior.
I learned to embrace the hard times. In the hard times, that's when healing takes place, if I engage my kids and show them I care. If I can meet them in their deepest needs, they will trust me with their lives.
I learned what faces not to make. :-)
I was reminded of the power of "I'm sorry." and "I forgive you."
And so much more...
I wished I could have been there for the whole thing. I bought the DVD so I can at least watch it at home. This year, the conference is free if you have a copy of the book. If you are dealing with attachment/behavior issues, I recommend you look into reading the book and going to Beyond Consequences Live. I recommend both, even if you are a regular parent that finds yourself rolling your eyes and thinking "Hear we go again..." with some particular behavior.
There was no overt religious reference, but if I could sum it up in one sentence, it is a lesson in...
How would Jesus treat this child?
Blessings to you,
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