We play this game in our house, it’s not a very fun game, called “toddler or trauma”. It happens almost every time one of our three children has a meltdown, is scared, or refuses to do something. Because we aren’t just raising three small children. We are raising three small children who have lived through buckets of trauma.
If you have a hard kid (or multiple hard kids) I think it’s easy to try and relate. I know I often will compare my children to friends with kids that are in a hard season; asking for advice or encouragement. However, recently I have started to understand the vast difference between hard kids and kids from hard places.
See, when you have a biological child in a difficult season you have lots of recourses available. Blogs and mommy groups and books and doctors. And although you may question the “why” behind the behavior you’re seeing, you don’t have to question the “what” of their past. As a parent of kids from hard places I am always questioning the past. The what.
“What happened to her in the womb that made her body react this way?”
“What happened at mealtime to make this particular restaurant a trigger?”
“What did I say that made them manic out of the blue, and, who did I remind them of?”
It’s a constant guessing game. And it is exhausting. Because on top of the actual parenting, we are always reminded of the hurt our babies are carrying around.
So if you see my child having a melt down-drag out. Or if you see a foster mama reacting differently than you think is correct. And if I say “thanks but no thanks” to your parenting advice. Give us grace. Because where you may say “oh he is such a toddler!” I say “dear Jesus, give me strength for this trauma”.
If you are parenting kids from hard places, know you are not alone in the exhaustion. Trauma parenting can feel incredibly isolating as you say no to fun activities, have to explain yourself to family members, and scream into a pillow in your office. We are in this together! Be encouraged in knowing that truth.