The BIG Question: Using Respite Care
Reprinted from the TLP Message Board
No, I don't believe that you are going to destroy any attachment that you and your daughter have developed by sending her away for a weekend of respite care. Although, I DO remember thinking that myself a few times over the years.
I believe that what you will be doing is helping your relationship, because in sending her to respite... you will be sending her a very important life lesson. Especially if you can continue to drop her off at the respite home EVERY TIME she steps out of line and tries to physically bully you in any way. She will be learning that this poor behavior is NOT acceptable. She will be learning that she can be at home if she is behaving appropriately, and that she will be sent away to a place that is not quite as good as home whenever she crosses that line.
Make sure that this Respite Home knows that there should be an earlier bedtime than what you give her (even if it's only a half hour earlier), and no ice-cream, candy or desserts. The good stuff should only come from the parents. There should be lots of chores to keep her busy while she is there, and absolutely NO HUGS. Those should only be coming from the parents too.
A successful respite situation will be set up in such a way that the child would rather be at home. If you can get this respite provider onboard.... it would be good if you could give her a list of the foods that your daughter doesn't particularly like to eat, so that she can make those foods when your child is with her. We have prepared a lot of liver and onions, brussel sprouts, and corned beef hash for respite kids. lol It's all healthy foods, just not the kind of yummy food that MOM usually prepares for them, if you get where I'm going here. It would also be good if you could give her a list of the kinds of chores that your child doesn't particularly like to do, so that this person could give her THOSE kinds of chores to do. I know that this might sound bad to people who don't understand, but the goal of respite is NOT for them to go there and have a party... and like that home better than their own home. You don't want them to find a new friend. You don’t want them to sit around eating pizza and ice-cream. You want this person to ONLY meet their very basic needs while making your home look much better... so that your child will want to get back home as soon as possible... and won't want to ever go back there again.
Also, I tell them NO television... NO telephone... and NO video games. Giving her a bucket of Legos to build with during quiet rest time is never a bad thing, and giving her crayons and a coloring book (or blank paper to draw or write on) would be awesome.
Outside chores are better, because they get some fresh air too… like raking leaves, weeding, painting fences, mowing the lawn, etc. Shoveling snow or horse stalls is a good way to get in some good heavy work that will get her brain working and thinking better.
In the perfect respite home, the children would never be allowed to help themselves to anything without asking first. The respite person would choose everything for the child... what they eat... drink... etc... and not give them something else if they say, "I don't like orange juice." The correct response would be, "Orange juice is very good for you... and this is what I am choosing for you while you are here with me." Tell them NOT to go get her grape juice instead. lol If they do... they are giving her the control.
They should also have her ask permission for everything while she is there.
"May I please have a glass of water?"
"Maybe I please use the bathroom?"
You never want them to be mean, or to say things to your child in a mean or degrading way. You just want to make sure that they are calling all of the shots, while also keeping your child safe in your absence.
And… if you can’t find a respite home that is willing to work with you and your child, you may just have to settle for a place that lets your child eat pizza and have some fun, because after all… any kind of a break to breathe is still A BREAK from all of the stress. But the more therapeutic respite home would help you out more as far as getting your child to appreciate you… and appreciate the good things that you give her. Yet, sometimes we just need to take the breaks however we can get them.
Children with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) have no conscience and are at risk of spending their adult years in prison if somebody doesn’t do something to try to reach them. Their best chance of survival is to get through the rest of their childhood without having another disruption in placement, so that they can see that SOMEBODY does love them unconditionally, and feels as if they are worth fighting for. Unfortunately, us parents get exhausted trying to parent these difficult children, and when they see that we are tired... they often rage a war of sorts on us to gain more control. So always remember this as you feel the guilt feelings coming on. You are NOT giving up on your child when you choose to send her to a respite home. I repeat, you are NOT giving up!!!! It just means that you are choosing to rest, and breath and take care of yourself... so that you CAN stay strong enough to keep parenting your child. So stop beating yourself up, and go find somebody who is willing to help you. Then REST UP, so that you can come back fighting for your child again.