That may sound like someone who has given up on their child. Those parents, like myself, have some reasons or concerns about raising these children to adulthood.

I’m not a violent person, but I could hardly contain myself because of my RAD daughter attacking me or another person I cared for. How could I expect anything else from my clients?

How do we reach these RAD kids and teach them right from wrong? This is a process that takes enormous patience. I think parents who work slowly but surely to reach the depth of the child’s issues are incredible. I couldn’t do it and most people who finally reach the point of understanding RAD are too exhausted to even try.

I’m not writing this blog to condemn any Parent of a RAD child. I’ve spent too many years trying to survive my child. I just want to give my RAD parents a different perspective.

The other day a woman wrote me an email describing how she is working with her RAD son. She described in detail what worked and what didn’t work with him. She said instead of lying about everything he is now just doing regular kid’s stuff lying.

Here’s is what she has been doing to reach where she is today:

“My strategy is based on TRUTH. Truth is a foundation you can build on. As I have told my son even if the truth sounds bad or nasty to you it is the place to start and I will never get mad at you for telling the truth. Lies will have consequences. ” 

“Circling the wagons after every difficult moment.  After we have had a blow up.  Him or me…….and trust me I have blown up.   Not a good parenting strategy. a human failing when faced with a no-win situation when the answer is not only visible but touchable and your son will not go near it. What I mean is after the blow up we go over it step by step.   How he felt, why he felt, how I felt, why I felt, was what I asked him to do hard, painful, mean?  Then talk about ways to work through this in the future that would benefit us both. A lot of circling the wagon is reminding everyone we start again. This does not change love. It does affect relationships.”   

“Before an incident I have made sure that he knew expectations. He could give a verbatim of all expectations.  He agreed nothing was hard or unreasonable.  This did not stop him from doing it again, but he did it knowing it was because he chose to and he did not get out of it by not understanding or unclear expectations.”

“I am vigilant about in the moment lessons on how he relates to others, hurts others, what might hurt others and why. It’s because he just does not give it a thought.  I am vigilant about the rules not changing.  I will confront him.”

“He went from not being able to tell me why he did something to offering an answer. The only answer I did not accept was that he did not have one.  He wanted me to believe he had a blank space in his head. I told him it was impossible.”   

“I hold him to a higher standard than he will hold himself. (because he will hold to the lowest common denominator) because I see who he can be and I see the kid who he is becoming popping out. I let him know.  I don’t think I let him know often enough. I am not perfect.  I am just trying to be what he needs, not what he wants, which is someone to leave him be.” 

“Why am I telling you this?  Because what I read about RAD is a lot of no hope.  I understand I have not lived the worst case, but I have spent my time in PTSD over it and had I listened to most of the commentary I would have lost a son and have no hope.  I refuse to lose my son over this.  I can see how families get destroyed.” 

“I have listened to Nurtured Heart, etc. all with good points of care but no one takes the tough line and incorporates the immoveable boundaries that are for their physical and emotional safety because somehow that is unloving.  It is unloving to allow them to believe the lies their heart is telling them, it is unloving to not expect them be responsible, it is unloving to not show them how to feel, how to respond, how to behave, how to think of others.”

“Every obstacle we have faced I employed strategies to overcome them.  Most didn’t work, but I kept at it until something stuck. Some strategies that didn’t work, work now.   Not all of the strategies were to change him……..a lot were to change me and how I thought.” 

From my perspective, this is a long-term strategy and it isn’t for everyone. But she does make a good point, these RAD kids consider themselves unlovable and feel the only person they can trust is themselves.

The writer didn’t feel extraordinary, but I believe she is. I thank her for being someone who found a route to her child’s life and future.

N. Ann Lamphere, MSW, CSW

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