Therapeutic parenting rocks. Educating others doesn't.
A beloved trauma mama shared a video with her fiancé of her sons' mild meltdown which prompted me to do the same. I was so nervous, I knew I had to do it immediately or I might never do it.
Throughout the past year, I've shared everything I could with him so he'd "see" it. Talking to him on the phone when she starts raging, I don't hang up. Skyping while escorting her to the psych hospital, leave him online so he witnesses it.
"Why is she talking like that to you? Kids don't talk to their parents like that!"
"Yes, I know. Non-traumatized kids generally don't talk to their parents like that."
"Oh, yes, that's right, its because she is mentally ill."
YES!!! He starting to get it!
Later, I describe all of my injuries and instead of getting mad at her, he empathizes with both of us.
YES!!! He is really getting this!
Another time, the damage she's done to my body means I can't withstand another rage for a few months and am scared she'll have to be placed out of the home for the duration. He reminds me that as the rages aren't constant, she can remain at home until the next one and then I can just call the police at that time to have her taken to the hospital.
YES!!! That is my exact plan and I hadn't even told him that yet. He's got this!!!!
Fast-forward to today.
1) RAD kids do not show their true colors on video, so any video we have is part meltdown and part performance art.
2) Any video taken is only a couple minutes of what was probably a rage that lasted hours, maybe even days.
So, I have a video from last fall, but I haven't seen it in a while so I hit play and started watching it with sound off so I could have an idea of what was coming. I'm enjoying the performance, my child is so entertaining!
He noticed it a few minutes in and ask me to go back to the beginning.
I restart it.
He immediately says he is shocked, he can't believe it!
After less than a minute, he stands up and starts pacing.
"This is not a child who should be in a home! This is a child who belongs in a hospital. I have experience with how the system works. Kids like this either go to prison or to a hospital."
"That is true." I murmur.
"Did you know she was like this before you adopted her?"
"Are you crazy? You have to be crazy to have children like this in your home. You are crazy!"
(trying to stifle a laugh) "Yes, I was their foster mom for a year before the adoption. I knew. AND it was MUCH MUCH worse then."
"Demons affect her. She needs prayer, lots of prayer. Can you explain her to the pastor?"
"No," I answer. "Kids like her cannot be explained. I've shared everything I could with you for a year and you are still shocked by a minor meltdown in a minute-long video."
More pacing. "crazy, you were crazy"
"It's not possible to live in a house with her. If we have a baby, she could never be alone with the baby or she could kill it."
"Yes, she is violent," I agree. "She would not be safe with a baby. Granted, she isn't a risk to babies or to kids younger than her. She is only dangerous to adults who try to be in charge." (I don't bother adding that should I get pregnant she would try to kill me so she'd be in a hospital for the duration anyway.)
"But," I add, "she is also intelligent and kind and helpful and fun."
"Yes, I know, I enjoy talking with her," he tells me. "But, you have got to stop taking care of everyone else. You must start thinking about our future."
He then goes on a thirty minute tangent about being too giving and being taken advantage of. I mostly just listen knowing he needs to vent and process.
He finishes by saying "The past is the past. We'll leave it there and move forward."
I give him 15-20 minutes before I respond. "So, what about dear daughter?"
"What do you mean?" he asks, like this is ancient history or something.
"You saw the video, you were shocked, so what are you thinking now?"
"Well, yes, I was shocked, but I processed it."
"You said you could never live with a child like that in the house. She's only 13. Five years until high school graduation."
"I was just processing. I didn't mean it that way. I would never throw away a child. She is mentally ill. When you love someone, you love them for everything. She is your child and after we are married, she will be my child. We will learn how to help her."
"Maybe she will have to go to a hospital sometimes, but you understand I am better than a facility for her. I am the best therapist for her. I am very good with her, I know exactly how to help her. I have a team of doctors, therapists, case managers, behavior therapists, and more helping me with her, and she belongs with me for as long as possible."
"Yes, and I will be her father and I will learn how to help her too."
I leave it at that. I'm SO happy at this outcome. I can't believe I have a man who can see how my child behaves and accept her no matter what just because she is mine. Yes, we'll come back at this many times like a spiral staircase. I don't want to wait five years to live with him, and I need a strong man to take the hits and protect me from her rages which means we have a lot of work to do if I want him to support my therapeutic parenting methods.