I will admit that diagnoses have merit. I have three RAD children. For people who know what that means, they will cringe and say, “Poor lady!” RAD is an acronym for Reactive Attachment Disorder.In short, it means the child reacts negatively to the nurturing of primary caregivers. They rage over things that others would see as logical consequences for a negative behavior. They disrupt, break things and take revenge. They mistrust and blame others for everything that goes wrong.
Why do they do this?
RAD children were deprived of the nurturing and love they should have had from their birthparents. Neglected, they learned to deal with life in the savage world of take-what-you-can-get. You might not have another chance.
They learn that love means confusion and chaos. I weep to think that a child’s brain is so messed up that love means bedlam. These children feel they must fight against everything and everybody to get what they need.
I sorrow for their past. It took a long time to realize they did not need pity. They needed someone to teach them responsibility strategies. In the beginning, every day was a battlefield of hurt feelings and ragged emotions.
I tried to teach them that they had the ability to shape their lives into what they wanted it to be. They did not have to look to the past; they could use the present to shape the future.
The answers would not be easy, but they must accept responsibility for their behavior. They must learn to get rid of the negative labels and excuses. Abandon the crutches and move forward.
I wanted them to understand that choices have natural consequences, and no matter what happened in the past, they are in charge of the future. In reality, like all of us, they have two choices: They can bang their heads against society’s rules, or they can learn to conform.
Ultimately, these children will have to live in society and accept the consequences for their choices. Caregivers and parents must hold them accountable for their behavior, not accept excuses for them, and pray that they will overcome the problem.
However, it is paramount that parents realize they cannot solve their children’s problems, no matter how good a job they do as parents. They might shield their children from consequences for a while, but eventually children will step into society and will answer for all of the choices they make.
We all make our own choices. Even a baby will spit pabulum back in your face if he/she chooses not to eat it.
I used to think that if I was a good parent, my children would be model human beings, but that is not the case. It is not the teaching; it is the learning that makes the difference. Harping, scolding, punishing, along with praise, coddling and rewards, do not make the child learn. All of that is manipulation.
The trick is to teach the child to make decisions and to be accountable for their choices. It is not just a matter of helping them get through the day; it is a matter of helping them get through life.
How many times has a police officer asked you with poised clipboard and pen in hand, “Madam, do you happen to be RAD or maybe you have a touch of ADHD?” and subsequently, based on your answer, let you speed on down the road.
The law does not generally ask why; it simply doles out consequences. Children who grow into adults with a label that they have used as a crutch are in for a rude awakening. The labels make no difference in the sight of the law.
Parents must prepare their children for the day when they will face society without parental protection. Giving children an excuse does not help. Parents must teach correct principles that will work in society. Then a parent’s work is finished. The child must then make his/her own choices and accept the consequences.
People of the world may point fingers and blame parents for choices a child makes, but they do it erroneously. A parent can only teach what they have been taught, and they can only teach what a child will learn.
The words of Jesus make it clear. “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” (Matthew 7:1-2) The old saying, “When you point a finger, you have three fingers pointing back at you” is a true statement.
When I was single, I pointed fingers regularly at parents whose children had strayed. I would say, “If they had been stricter, if they had been home more often, if they had taken him/her to church, the child would have tuned out better.”
After I adopted my RAD children, I do not say that anymore, and I beg for people’s understanding. I have tried everything I know to help them. Yes, they have made progress. They are starting to see that their choices make a difference, but I still have to give consequences for the same behavior.
I still have to talk to them about their tempers and lack of respect. I still have to remind myself that their choices are their own, and I cannot shield them from the consequences or I will do them a disservice. Their grades must be their own. They must flunk if they do not do the work in school.
If they cheat, they must be reported. If they steal, they must return the thing they have taken. If they get kicked off the bus, they must walk. If they get involved with drugs, they must face the law. If they break something, they must pay for it. If they are disrespectful, they must lose privileges.
It is hard for a parent to see into the future and know that certain choices will lead to certain consequences, and not try to save their children from pain, by taking the consequences on themselves.
For example, a parent knows if a child consistently chooses not to do homework, he will fail, so Mom sits down with him and feeds him the answers. If parents take that route, the child learns that he can play around, and Mom will come to the rescue.
Some parents even go so far as to blame the teacher for a child’s lack of motivation. The child learns that he can blame society for his problems.
Now, the world can jump up and down with excitement, “See there! See there! It is the parents’ fault!” Yes, but how many parents back do you go?
Maybe those parents learned their child-rearing techniques from their parents, and they from their parents. The faulty parenting strategies could go back for generations. Blame must rest on the individual.
Blame is not the issue. Education is, and it is one person at a time taking complete responsibility for his/her behavior and passing that information by example to the next generation. That is a big job. How can one person do it?
We are not alone. We have a script and a mentor. The script is found in the Holy Scriptures, and God himself is our mentor. The principles taught in the scriptures will lead us to truth and give us good and bad examples of human behavior.
Prayer will teach us how to treat our children and give us the power to carry out our resolves. If we use those two resources, we will reach as far as we can, and our children will be able to stand on our shoulders and reach higher.
Of course, we cannot be sure that our children will follow us, but we can be certain we have done our part. PD