In honor of Father’s Day to our ‘RAD‘ Dads, Institute For Attachment and Child Development posted a blog about the importance of a united front, self-care, and “nurturing the enemy” titled 10 ways dads of kids with reactive attachment disorder can protect their families. Moms and dads work hard providing for their families, nurturing their families, and loving their families even when family members get a bit prickly.
It is ok to feel frustrated, you may even feel confused, or at a loss for what to do next when faced with reactive aggression. Know this, our loved ones are functioning from a place of pain when they become dysregulated. What you have control over is your reaction to any given situation. It is hard to be loving when you feel the need to defend yourself. The calm you provide in the midst of the chaos can help your child know they are loved and are lovable. For your child, knowing they have your safety, your support, and your calm security can help them while they battle their demons. That does not mean you should neglect your self-care or that of your partner.
There is still powerful toxic energy coming at you, and in need of some way to dissipate. As your child dealing with reactive attachment work to discharge his, or her pain, the intense emotions fall on your shoulders because you are “safe,” and can “handle” anything. At least, that is what I know about my parents. Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to practice letting go of those bad feelings for your child, without dropping an anvil of emotion onto someone else’s head. You must also practice caring for your wounded heart through activities of relaxation like reading or creating; or activities of stimulation like walking fast, running, or playing a sport, for example. To use a quote someone had shared with me, “Take your oxygen first,” you cannot help someone if you are passed out in your seat.