Biggest Barrier to Parental Commitment by Bryan Post

Never give up. Never quit and never admit defeat. -- Winston Churchill

She called me on my cell phone and asked “Bryan,  will you come and get me. I don’t want to be here anymore.” I replied, “Is something wrong? Has something happened to make you feel uncertain or afraid?” She replied that nothing had happened, she just didn’t want to be in this particular treatment home any longer.  In fact, she stated that she would rather be taken to the department of social services so that she could sign herself out. She was after all, eighteen years old. This was going to be her third placement in as many weeks. Typically upon becoming triggered in some form or fashion this young lady would immediately desire to call her social worker and be removed from our program and from care. Occasionally, if neither of those requests seemed to illicit the response desired, she would methodically begin destroying the house.

A fifteen year old young man has been with us for nearly six months. During this six months he has broken expensive windows, assaulted staff and residents, ran away from both home and school countless times, verbally abused school staff, stolen, lied, smoked cigarettes, cut holes in furniture, sprayed graffiti on the school and surrounding buildings, compulsively broken another residents eye glasses on several occasions, thrown food, denied everything, and finally this past week after being denied an ear piercing by his mother on the phone, he hung up and feigned hatred stating he never wanted to speak to them again - and so far has not.

Why am I sharing both of these very challenging situations with you? Because they both, at varying times, have left me feeling helpless, frustrated, ignorant, uncaring, uncompassionate, and lacking commitment. Let’s look at one core dynamic. What element do you think creates the biggest barrier to being full out 100% committed to children that behave like this?

Fear. Plain and simple fear. Sometimes I feel terrified that I am not going to be able to help these children. Both of these children have spent countless years in the system. Both children have spent more than half their lives in residential treatment centers or therapeutic foster homes. Both entered the system at about the same time in life, around age six. Both came from neglectful circumstances. During the times that these children have been in my care, the care of Post Treatment Homes, there have been occasions of fear so great that I wanted nothing more than to give up. When fear strikes, we become rigid, inflexible, we lack creativity and passion and want to not be bothered with any additional stressors. However, I say, I scream, “We will not give up. I will not give up. I must do better, and must be more flexible, more passionate, more creative! When fear is present, we must muster the courage to love more.” Love always wins - but it has to be true love, that is unconditional love.

In the process, I slow down. We do not give up. I do not give up. I say to the eighteen year old, “You are mine now. I am your social worker. If you need something you call me. I determine where you go and you are not going back to residential treatment and you are not going to sign yourself out of care. I want you. You deserve a home, you deserve to feel safe,” as I take her firmly by both shoulders, “You might not like it very much and we will have to go through some really tough times, but we are going to make it. We are not giving up.”

I look sternly at the young man, request that he look at me, and I tell him, “I have hope for you. I believe that you are here for something special. I believe in you. I know that you get scared and all crazy in the head, but I know you can make it. I want that to happen for you and I won’t give up on you. Do you understand?” He nods yes and replies with all honesty, “Really?” I affirm with a strong, “Yes. Of course.”

So now here I am left with my fear, mustering courage, to continuing forward, waging this war in loves name, for loves sake for God's sake. There are not many in this world that want these children any longer. To this date, my girl is still in the same home for a record amount of time and my boy is getting better by the month  – not the day or the minute— but month by month he is reaching for his future.

If we caregivers, parents, teachers and therapists give up, we loose all opportunity for saving our kids. If we give up, we loose the relationship. If there is no relationship, nothing else matters. If we have lost that, we have lost everything. Relationship builds influence. Influence leads to learning.

Dr. Jerry Jampolsky's book states it clear - Love is letting go of fear. Courage is the ability to choose love in the midst of fear. It is not easy. It is however worth it.

Always Choose Love,

B.

Have you read Bryan Post's FREE e-Book How to End Lying Now: Why Kids Lie and What You Can Do to Stop It?

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Comments

  1. Sometimes it’s pure exhaustion that has you struggling to stay committed to your child and their needs.

  2. Wow, glad I came across your blog. I have 7 children, all challenging in some way! We had three kids, and then began the process to adopt four more, because they belonged to a family member and were removed by CPS, not once, but twice. For the past two years they were in and out of our home as foster children and now we are adopting them. Of the 7, we have 4 with ADD or ADHD, 1 with post traumatic stress syndrome, 1 with Oppositional Defiance disorder, and all with some blended family issues tugging at their tender hearts! Our journey has been tough, but rewarding. Just a few months ago I had to replace every window in our house because of angry acting out, and I do all I can not to let frustration creep in. I say I’m always searching for the silver linings, because the clouds are often chasing me!

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