my ss has Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) & hits me

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by love is a fine line, Apr 8, 2019.

  1. love is a fine line

    love is a fine line New Member

    I am the step to a 7yo that is very manipulative and cunning. He is pleasantly cheerful around others but strikes out at me when no one else is around. Dad is not his bio but tricked into giving his last name and now raising him due to the bio mom being locked up and found to be unfit for her other children. We are both lost but he looks at me like this is brought on by my being an ex cop and majored in psychology. if I just acted like a parent and was nicer he'd stop fighting with me. That hasn't worked either. I'm exhausted and losing my relationship. I put both of his kids in therapy because we just got custody of his 11yo daughter and she has lot's of ongoing issues as well. I am drowning and don't know how to make this a safe environment for myself much less his daughter or mine. She confronted him about how miserable he makes us all and his answer is this is normal sibling stuff buck up and be a better big sister. She doesn't want to and hates that she is called his big sister when she is the baby and feels replaced and displaced by his presence in her dad's life.....please any suggestions.....lost in the madness
  2. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    Wow. You guys have your hands full! I hope you have good mental health care for all of you, not just your step son. There are others on this forum who have dealt with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). I am sure they will post later.

    Is it possible that biomom drank during the pregnancy? FASD is also a possibility. I am mentioning that, because we adopted our two grand daughters when they were removed from our son and his wife. The oldest is my sons step daughter, but he met her when she was pregnant and knew she had been drinking heavily.

    I mentioned that, to let you know that every time I felt like we were becoming a family, they would withdraw. I think they felt conflicted, because if we got closer p, then somehow it was like betraying their mom.

    Your stepson has been they so much trauma, that I am sure it is affecting him. It would be horrible. And do you know if there could be things that happened that he hadn't told any one?

    On a practical note, I would sign him up for activities, sports, anything I could find to keep him busy and involved. This would keep him busy, expand extra energy, less time for one on one with you, and maybe he will find an interest he wants to pursue later.

    Has he had any resting? Ksm
  3. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    Oops...I meant "testing" on my last sentence... Now it's too late to edit... Ksm
  4. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    Hi and welcome,

    I am a bit unclear on some of the sounds like you brought a daughter into the marriage. How old is she and how does she feel about what is going on in the home?

    You have mentioned some difficulties, but I am unclear as to whether you are describing your daughter or your 11-y-o stepdaughter.

    I believe that your first obligation is to your daughter, and all decisions should stem from that.
  5. Pixie Dusted

    Pixie Dusted New Member

    Must Have Safety Resources When Parenting a Child with Reactive Attachment Disorder - Every Star Is Different

    There are helpful resources out there. It is unfortunately a devastating diagnosis. Attachment therapy is an option, but you need to really be open to loving him and not holding onto resentments (very hard, I know). There are different degrees of how each child is affected. Try to find an expert to evaluate him and NEVER stop seeking resources! Our county has mental health case workers to help parents navigate the system. AND my favorite is they also offer respite (a nice break) every month where your child goes to a caregiver trained in that field.

    You're not alone!
    I too am losing my insanity having a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)! Honestly we often use humor to deal with him and keep ourselves "sane". It will be draining and exhausting, but remember it's not his fault. You may be his step-mom, but sounds like your also the only MOM he has! These kids need a champion in their corner, and if mom doesn't step up to carve that path for him, no one else will. (sometimes dad's can too, lol)

    Helpful to remember: Children with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) present very differently outside the home. They are often described as “charming” and “delightful” by others when things in the home are decidedly different. This can isolate parents as they worry that others won’t believe them if they share what the child is like at home. My child's teachers have a completely different kid at school than the one we have at home.
    Sometimes (or often) you will think you are losing your mind! Kids who have Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) can be expert manipulators. This can lead to questioning of one’s sanity and second guessing facts that you know to be true. It can put great strain on marriages or relationships with other caregivers.
  6. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Pixie, great explanation of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Its a disorder people dont like to talk about because it is devestating, nobody is sure how to treat it, and it is more comforting to think ODD or ADHD. But I know Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) at its worse and more mediocre. Adopted two kids who had it. Still do.

    My advice is to make sure your adopted kid is sern by a neuropsychologist AND a psychologist who specializes in treating adopted kids and kids with early bonding breaks and traumatic lives from infancy to age 5. Regular therapy wont do squat. This is an extra layered issue that can cause great harm yet only some in the adoption community understand it. Many psychiatrists dont.

    Read Nancy Thomas. Read The Hurt Child. Gawd, I hope those names are right. So long ago for me. Also many Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) kids had birthparents that drank and did drugs so fetal alcohol syndrome can be a part and a neuropsychologist will see those traits. That disorder is organic and affects the brain and again mainstream therapy is not helpful. Our adopted kids have a history we did not create and cant erase through love, even a different DNA. We want to forget that these can be issues sometimes. Children adopted older are most at risk. They have usually been thrown around a lot or neglected and though they may not remember, their developing brain marks this and the child learns not to love or trust anyone but himself. Some Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) kids harm animals, start fires and pee and poop inappropriately. Some molest unwilling kids. They lack empathy. They love you only when they want something.

    But outside of the home, where there is no pressure for the dreaded love, they may be charming and hug everyone. It makes the parent think he is nuts and it is his fault. But all this happened before you met your child and the brain is set in its ways. kind to yourself. Love and light!
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2019
  7. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I am sorry that you are dealing with all of this. It is a TON, and seems like more than any one family should have to endure. Your first loyalty must be to your daughter. Be CAREFUL with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) kids. They can be incredibly dangerous. If he acts out on the other kids, he may not be safe to have in the home. One former member adopted a kid with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) who sexually and physically abused her other children. They had to reverse the adoption because he was so dangerous. Of course not all kids with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) are this dangerous and damaged, but they all have the capacity to be this dangerous. You MUST make safety of all children, especially your daughter, the highest priority. If this means alarms on every door to see if he opens them at night, or finding a way to not leave the children alone out of your sight (even in another room or while you are in the bathroom - and I KNOW how hard this is firsthand!), then that is what you must do.

    I am sorry I cannot give you a rosier outlook. The others have given wonderful advice. Be aware that he may threaten the other kids to keep them from telling you what he does to them. This is one reason why security MUST be the top priority.
  8. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I think what needs to happen first is that you get support. No one person or one family could deal with all of this alone.

    This is what I might think about doing, not necessarily in order:

    I would try to find a counselor who can help you problem solve and to put into place a plan.

    I don't know what your financial resources are but I would think about an attorney. It doesn't seem right that your husband have complete responsibility for a child who is not his. There is a way to renounce parental rights. This is often the past for a child whose issues and needs vastly exceed what a family can provide.

    Get him evaluated at the Child Development Center of a regional Children's hospital. This will include a neuropsychological exam and also consults with a psychiatrist and social worker. If there is not a Children's Hospital near you, consider a University Medical School. What these evaluations will do is give you a workable diagnosis and recommendations so that you know what you are dealing with. You can also use these to obtain special education services, which can include non public school or even residential treatment center placement.

    I would consider therapy. None of this is your fault. Scapegoating you may be appealing (and even self-blame) but this will only makes this worse. It's not your fault. Nor should anybody make this about your changing, doing different, more, etc. This is a smokescreen. Try not to take it on.

    I would consider Al Anon. This group will help you deal with the family systems stuff, to make boundaries and to not take on what is not yours.

    How much support are you getting from your husband? None of this is yours to take on. Is he clear on this? You can choose to take on some of this, but how is this really about you? Your own mental health, peace of mind, serenity and functioning are essential and important, too. Your responsibility, first, is to make sure that you are intact and your needs are met, and that any child you brought into this marriage, is psychologically and emotionally and physically safe too. If this environment is toxic to you and to your child, this has to be factor number one. Only if you and your child are safe, not under undue strain, not living in constant stress and conflict, can you begin to start thinking of anything more.

    I know how scary and sad it is to think about needing to make adjustments to a living arrangement, or a relationship. But if there is not safety, and the sense of safety, what real option is there?
  9. ancient mama

    ancient mama New Member

    Thank you for mentioning that FASD can be a cause for the attachment issues. So much of the literature focuses on Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), but sometimes it is not environmental at all. And when it is a neurological impairment, and the experts tell you it was caused by an experience after birth, you blame yourself and start doing all sorts of strategies that simply don't work. More info has to be out there on how drinking alcohol while pregnant can impact the bonding later on. As an adoptive mom who did not see it coming, it was devastating.