Tag Archives: therapeutic parenting

My Mum My Hero

My mum is amazing. I aspire to be like her. I have always wanted to be as successful and respected as she is. As good and honest a person as she is. To be as good a mum to my children as she was and is to me and my siblings.

Since I have adopted my mum has blown me away with her capacity to understand and show empathy both for my girls and for me. She has read up on attachment and has an admirable understanding of the impact of the girls’ past. She has shamelessly button-holed professionals she comes across in her voluntary work to quiz them on the intricacies of developmental trauma. She has driven miles not only to attend meetings with me but also to make valuable contributions in those meetings.

I know I can ring my mum and talk things through with her. She never gets tired of me repeating the same fears and worries, never offers unsolicited advice, she backs me up when I need it. Especially as a single mum it is amazing to know I can offload on someone who won’t judge me. She constantly expresses her belief that I am a good mum to my girls. She never makes me feel like a failure.

Circle of love

I have a very strong memory from my childhood of sitting on my mum’s knee and being comforted by the feel of her hug and by her distinct smell. It was a feeling of safety and security; being enveloped in her love. There’s nothing quite like that memory for me. My mum still has the ability to do that for me now even at my age. Just thinking about her makes me feel better!

Everybody should have somebody like my mum in their lives but I am convinced that she is one in a hundred million. My mum is definitely my hero!


Guilty as charged

I fight hard for my eldest daughter. I battle with professionals to get her what she needs. I take her out on day trips with her younger sister and we all have fun and make good memories. I go up to her room at bedtime to chat to her about the good things from our day and then tell her I love her and kiss her goodnight.

I use PACE a lot. I’m pretty good at wondering with her about what is going on under the surface; what’s driving her behaviour. I plan activities, structure our home lives etc. I try to parent her in the very best way possible.

At the moment I’m doing an attachment parenting course. Last week the psychologist running the course asked me if I thought the emotional connection was there for me. It was asked in a supportive way. Not in any way to criticise. And I answered truthfully.


How does a parent remain emotionally engaged after 4 years of rejection?

I’m sure there are parents who do. I try. I try very hard. But I guess if I’m honest then the answer is probably no.

I’ve thought about this all week. I do know that the fact she isn’t able to love me still makes me cry. So there must be something there.

I hope and pray she doesn’t know how much I struggle with this. I’m guessing the professionals would say that she must know.

What does this make me? Human? A failure? Unworthy?

I don’t know


Nature’s power

There are some things that are never mentioned even by my parents or close friends. This is probably because they are considered as much a part of our lives as eating and breathing:

  1. Most days I am rejected by Kitten or have my things broken or destroyed by her. Seething resentment, fuelled by fear, sums it up nicely
  2. Many days Bunny has meltdowns and I am hit, kicked or spat at
  3. In our house we do not sleep and we are pretty tired

Some might think we would be miserable – yet we manage quite well and have our happy times. I’m honestly not sure if I parent therapeutically or not but I am trying to parent the girls calmly and respectfully; predicting, planning for and responding to their individual needs and behaviours. I wouldn’t say it’s easy – their needs are fairly complex but different and I’m very much on my own. Yet some simple things seem to help both girls.

Our number one success is being outside. My girls came to me with a shocking disdain for being outdoors and little Bunny at 2.5 years could only walk a few steps without falling down. It’s taken a lot of patience, hard work and daily physiotherapy at home to get us to the stage we are at now.

Whilst we enjoy our day trips to theme parks and discovery museums and so on I really believe being outside in the fresh air and amongst nature has an almost magical power. My girls seem to have a lot of sensory issues (though getting them seen by an occupational therapist feels akin to climbing Everest) and just being outside – exploring and adventuring – seems to have a positive impact.

I’ve recently been reading about peadiatric occupational therapist, Angela Hanscom, who is the founder of TimberNook, running nature-based developmental programmes in the US. Their philosophy is – Getting kids to think for themselves, challenge themselves, and explore nature unhindered by adult fears Isn’t that great – I love that! That’s exactly what I want for my girls. 

I’m not one for hovering – I let the girls go for it and trust they will find their own limits. But I always have their backs if they need me.

So we scramble and climb…

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We get wet and curious….

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We balance and dangle…


We run and of course we get very very dirty…

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I’ve been told by someone at Camhs that we are avoiding intimacy by being out and about so much. That’s it’s not a good thing. Maybe that is so – I don’t know. It doesn’t feel that way to me. And to be honest It often feels that whatever I do someone is always waiting to criticise me.

But can it be wrong if my girls are released from their crushing anxiety for a little while? Is it so bad if they stand joyfully on top of rock piles and share the triumph of reaching their summit with me?  Or when they call me over to share in some wonder they have discovered? And is it really avoiding intimacy when we stand together high up on a hill looking out at the beauty of the view and sharing that quiet moment?

All I can say is that it feels right for us. That is all.
































Why did she adopt?

I do wonder if when people look at me they think why on earth did she adopt? If I take a step back and read my blog and tweets I think they may appear negative, as though I take little pleasure in my life with Bunny and Kitten. I may seem self absorbed, more concerned with their impact on me rather than the children’s difficulties. Do I even deserve them? I can understand that. I dread to think what prospective adopters must think. I wonder if they think I don’t deserve my children.

I know why I adopted. As someone who will be single for the rest of my life, I really wanted a family, to be a mum, but I knew having birth children wasn’t an option. I work with children and young people from all kinds of backgrounds but I have spent much of my career supporting children who are in care. Sadly repeatedly I see children’s FC placements break down as they hit puberty and they either move to a children’s home or have to move area to access more specialist FC. And I have seen the spiral into chaos this can cause for those children. So I hoped that for at least one or two children I could change that outcome. And religiously, I believed it was something I was called to do; to be mum to a child or children who otherwise would have been in long term FC.

So that is why I adopted Bunny and Kitten. But perhaps the question isn’t why I adopted but should I have adopted? I thought I should. But perhaps I was wrong and many days I honestly don’t know the answer. I thought I was prepared. I read loads on attachment and developmental trauma, I had met up with adopters, I read the AUK boards regularly. I moved house – and town – and built a new support circle there. I saved money. I didn’t rush into it. I thought I was ready. I knew it was going to be tough. I thought I was well prepared before I even rang an agency.

But I have to reflect on where we are now and wonder if I was wrong. I put a lot of time and effort into trying to parent the girls in the way they need. Almost everything I do, I do with the girls’ needs in mind. Almost every waking moment is devoted to Bunny and Kitten. I never shout and rarely even raise my voice. And yet still everyday life is so hard for all 3 of us. Is that because the girls have ‘complex needs’ – or actually is it that I’m not doing a very good job? Because let’s be honest no-one thought they had complex needs before placement.

Would they have been better off elsewhere? Perhaps with two parents? Or perhaps someone else would parent them in a different and better way? Kitten finds it impossible to bond with me never mind attach to me. Is that because I am failing her in some way rather than because of her prior experiences. And the most honest thing I can say is that I find it almost impossible to bond with Kitten too. Her daily resentment, revulsion and rejection wear away my emotional connection with her until I can’t seem to find it anymore. Bunny seems to cope with things less as time goes on. And her relationship with me is hit and miss at best. Yesterday I told Bunny I loved her and she said ‘So?’ and spat in my face. Aren’t I supposed to be making things better not worse?  How did we get here? I don’t know. And don’t they deserve so much more?

So I couldn’t blame people for looking at me and wondering if I should have adopted. Or for thinking I am negative or whining. I take responsibility for that. But please remember that whilst it might seem like I am whinging or moaning, I am also trying my best every day without fail.

Please gentle with me.