Did you know that a bunch of the tools a parent/caregiver uses with a RAD child are the same as what God uses with us?
It might surprise you! I'll explain.
First off, a child with attachment disorder needs to stay within six feet of their parent/caregiver.
The parent does not argue with the child.
They do not throw out threats.
And they do not allow the child to roam.
See any resemblance to our relationship with our Father?
God does not participate in arguments with us. He does not threat. And when we roam from God, we are placing ourselves in unhealthy, dangerous territory.
Connection. Wow there is so so much to that word. Connection is the most important thing between the parent and child. That's the goal. To connect. And then a deep, genuine heart connection.
Shouldn't that be our utmost goal as a child of God? To connect to Him - wholeheartedly. To have a deep, genuine heart connection that nothing can sever.
That's God's goal for us. With each child, He craves to have that kind of connection.
With children from hard places, physical touch is one key to healing. Many of them have been abused so they do not have a healthy concept of physical touch and that is why it is crucial for the caregiver/parent to demonstrate healthy touch to the child. Studies show that it takes twelve hugs a day to heal. Rocking and snuggling are important as well as eye contact.
Now think of our Papa - think of Him in a big soft recliner. Imagine seeing his arms stretched out to you, softly inviting, ‘’child, come here!’’ and then climbing into His arms. Think of Him rocking you as you dump your heart out to Him. In your quiet time with Papa, ask Him to hold you. Close your eyes and truly imagine you are tightly snuggled in His embrace. When you are talking to Him, imagine as if you are looking straight into His eyes. And seriously, think of hugging Papa twelve times a day! That is such a sweet thought!
There is a great deal of bonding in all that up close, physical stuff. A child needs that to grow and thrive. Just how we need that with our Father to grow and thrive.
A RAD child does not get the privilege of making decisions without the parent. The parent either offers them a question like, ‘’(name), do you want to help me clean out the car before we go to town or by yourself after we get home?" Or the parent instructs them what to do. The parent will provide the child’s needs. The child does not fend for themselves. Likewise, that is how God is with His children. He is our decision-guider. Our instructor. Our provider.
Often the parent will give the child stations. These are mapped out places that the child stays until the parent says to go to the next one. For example, a 6x6 spot marked out on the floor with tape. Let's say, in that station there is a kitchen set and a doll. That child is instructed to stay in that station and play. It gives the child a sense of boundaries and safety.
And then I think about God. Does He not give us stations? Isn’t that the same thing as a season? A season to wait. A season to teach. A season to harvest. We stay in that station until He directs otherwise. Sometimes we try to hurry up the process, but that never goes well. If we do that, there are bound to be consequences in store.
And that brings me to my next point. Consequences. Consequences with love. It's crucial the parent addresses the child’s poor decisions with love, not anger. Anger or pain-inflicting consequences do absolutely no good with a child who has attachment disorder. All that does is activate the child’s fight-flight-freeze mode since they have experienced early childhood trauma. Instead, the parent offers a non-dramatic approach to the child’s poor choices. The point is to let the child know that the parent noticed their behaviour. Some examples of this: 1) the parent offers a re-do, or 2) asks them to do a chore, or 3) even just telling them that they noticed. Like, ‘’I notice you are feeling angry at your sibling...’’
Sometimes, the child does act out in crazy ways. It’s important then for the parent to just wait it out with them and not stack up the consequences.
Isn’t that how God is with us? We need to have consequences for our poor choices but He does not get all dramatic and loud about it. And when we go all crazy, He simply waits it out with us. He does not push us to get our act together, He does not scold us, He does not walk away. He stays.
And then there is tough love. The parent does not baby the child. The parent sees the child's need and sometimes that need can only be accessed through tough love.
Just how God works with us. At times, we all can be cantankerous creatures. We all have at one point refused the help we truly needed. And that is where tough love needs to pop into action. God is the prime example of refusing to swoop in, snatch us up, and baby us. No. He gives us tough love when it's what's best for us. So in the end, it’s our choice to change. Not His.
In conclusion, God calls all of us to be little children. We all have experienced baggage or a ‘’past’’ or broken attachments (relationships) in our lives. Sure, our pain may not be as severe as a RAD child’s, but I think we all still get to be called God’s RAD children.
-written by Jera Doerksen