You can’t will it, power it, control it. Connection occurs with two or more items, and I believe you need both parties to be on the same wavelength to gain the most out of the experience. Being in a family of 4 with no natural biological connections (married with two adopted children), we’ve had to build these relationships from the ground up. It’s interesting to look at where both children are at and how it affects our attachments and views on life.
Last night my youngest daughter went out shopping with me as she would be spending one of her birthday gift cards. We had to run out to my father and his girlfriend’s house to feed their cat. When we came home from our hours together, we saw a sign on our door leading into the apartment building. The pool hours for the day would be limited and the office manager apologized for the trouble. We went into the elevator and my daughter said.
“So this means we have no more pool for the rest of the summer?”
I said, “No, it just means the pool is closing at 3pm tomorrow.”
“That’s not what you just said.”
She makes me doubt my reading abilities once again. I wonder in this instance if she’s really trying to irritate me, or if she sincerely tunes out of life. She acted like she couldn’t go back and read the sign when I told her to read it again. The helplessness at 12 is astounding, but typical of reactive attachment disorder. She doesn’t want to think for herself. When she’s feeling lost, she doesn’t want to do for herself. It makes me wonder how much of a real connection is being made, or how much as a parent I’m just a means to an end for her to get what she wants (food, clothing, money, shelter) and then when she’s got her needs met, she feels like she needs to be in control, powerful and doesn’t need anyone else to take care of her.
My oldest daughter wants these connections. She asks how we are doing every day. She expresses love not only with words, but also with actions. She’s sincerely grateful when people give her special praise and attention. She understands why she has us as parents and at this time can’t live with her birth mother, but has been establishing a relationship by phone at this point. I believe our youngest daughter feels the closest connection in this family with my oldest daughter, but even that relationship can be strained at best. When the younger one feels wronged or angered, she will throw the oldest under the bus even if the circumstances aren’t as they appear to be just to let go of pain and put the pressure on someone else. A simple funny incident can turn into a scream fest due to this misinterpretation.
I am strong. I continue to be the role model and example to teach my youngest what a father does in a family. If she doesn’t want more than what she gets now, that is fine. It’ll be her loss in the long run when she becomes an adult and realizes how much time she spent fighting and wasting that could have been memory filled and loving in the positive direction. I have to meet her where she’s at, and hope she trusts me enough to shoot for the stars.
In the meantime I’ll connect with the people who care, who share, and who want that connection.