My friend Tim said, “This week with my daughter has been like living in a firestorm. She keeps creating sparks and embers for me to run and put out.” I can picture that! It is how we live when we have a child with RAD. As parents of these challenging children we are continually putting out fires before they spread in our quest for peace. It is exhausting! This weary dad went on to say he was home taking care of the children so his amazing wife could take a break! What a GREAT DAD! Another great dad I worked with shared with me that “Being the Dad of a kid with RAD was tougher than being a Navy Seal!” They diffuse BOMBS!!!
My cowboy and I used to have a “strategic planning meeting” each evening after the children were in bed. The dear man would patiently listen to the day’s saga when he was weary from the day. We would put a plan in place for the next day and end it with a hug. 45 minutes MAX. (I had to set the timer or I went on & on, wore us both out, and used up all our time together venting!) My husband did not tell me how I could have been a better Mom. He did not judge my decisions that day. He trusted me and supported me and believed in me and loved me!!! I loved the wild children in our care. They were exhilarating and exhausting to live with and care for. It was never boring! I could NEVER have made it through helping even one child if it were not for the great man who stood beside me. He was not the judge or the referee. He was the King. That made me his Queen and our children all became royalty. He did not step into the court jester roll and try to “jolly” a raging child out of it. His job was not to make the children happy. His job was to provide opportunities for them to learn and grow while he showed them love, encouragement and support.
I asked my cowboy what the most important things are for a great Dad of RAD to do. After raising emotionally disturbed children with me for over 40 years I figured he knew.
- If the mom is the primary caregiver the Dad needs to know the rules of the game and support her 100% if he agrees with them or not. Believe in her.
- Give Hugs!
- Understand, wife is not always in the best mood when you come home.
- Another means of support is to encourage and facilitate time away from home and away from kids. Husband needs to provide opportunity for wife to get away for an evening now and then, away from the total focus she had to have with the children. Be willing to take care of the kids so she can have a breather.
- Make sure there is respite so that husband can take the wife out to dinner and movie or whatever.
- Provide emotional, physical and logistical support with words of encouragement, acknowledgement, hugs, driving and helping etc.
- Dad must fully understand the constraints on the child so communication is essential.
- Weekends they would sometimes work with me but we were always careful to avoid triangulation where they would pit one of us against the other or try to do “favorites.” I worked with power tools and machinery often so could not have them in unsafe situations.
What I liked most was seeing success, to see success in terms of improvement. Contributing to the normalcy of the children so they could grow up to be responsible, mature citizens was what I liked. To provide an environment with financial security so my wife could be home full time to help the children was important to me.
What I did not like was the children’s destructiveness and their delight in doing so. I had to fix it all! I had to be a jack-of-all-trades to make it work. Door knobs, door hinges, holes in the walls, pee in the heater vent, plugged toilets and sinks, disassembled plumbing, broken appliances, poop in the electrical outlets and an injured wife all had to be repaired.
Now I’ve got very responsible kids that I can enjoy and do things with. They are a God sent blessing. They are very normal with good social skills. They worked and took ownership of their education. They got no free ride! I gave them encouragement and made sure they had food and housing as they attended college. They paid their way. They are caring, loving normal adults now. Their past is past.
If I had it all to do over what would I do different? More one-on-one time with my wife. We didn’t go out that much. We should have. I would go back and have more fun with my wife.
Did you ever wonder why I love this great man with all my heart? There you have it!
Happy Fathers Day!
We can make a difference, Nancy