New Families, Old Scripts By Caroline Archer
0 comment Friday, May 30, 2014 |
New Families, Old Scripts "A Guide to the Language of Trauma and Attachment in Adoptive Families", by Caroline Archer and Christine Gordon.
Or Extreme Therapeutic Parenting for Hardcore Adopters, as I like to call it.
Not a book, in my opinion, for placements less than a year old. I think to be able to practice the suggestions, and understand the basic tenant of this book, you need to have some experience under your belt. This time last year, for instance, I would certainly not have been in a position to "praise" one of my children for screaming at me "to let me know they have an issue." Learning to handle my children's screaming has taken a lot of practice and hard work on my part. If I'd have tried to be happy and encouraging of that particular mode of communication in the early months, I'd almost certainly have failed and felt crap about it. Most other parents would have too, I guess, the ones that were human in any case.
That said, I think it should be compulsory reading for every adopter of trauma chucking children (as I lovingly think of them). Its contents page consist of an Alphabet of Issues and so you can pick off your children's issues like meals off a menu. I'll have Attention Seeking for starters, then Control Issues for the main, then Emotional Outbursts for pudding, please! I think it really does cover all the dishes of trauma that our kids serve up to us, and it covers them in some detail, talking both in the general and using specific families as examples.
Seeking to explain why our kids have Control Issues or Eating and Food Issues, or why they have Puzzling Pain Responses, the book expounds that dealing with the underlying cause of the problem behaviour is the only thing that will help stop the problem behaviour. This apparently takes an awful lot of effort on behalf of the adoptive parents, requiring total commitment towards an understanding and fully empathetic attitude, completely banishing any idea of punishment. It is exhausting in its suggestions for how we can re-write the scripts our children have been reading from.
The theory that children's behaviour is their language - that they are communicating important information to us with their tantrums and defiance and such - has been one of the most important lessons that I have learnt as an adoptive mother. This book has really underpinned that lesson and has given my newly emerging therapeutic parenting tendencies a confidence boost.
Sadly, predictably, it offers no short cuts to healing children, no get-out-clause from the pressure of having to parent extremely well. In fact, it has nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. An extremely comprehensive, easy to navigate, incredibly helpful book, that is not for the faint hearted.