We are preparing for the return of our youngest daughter. A flood of different emotions come to the forefront of our minds- both exciting and scary. She’s been in and out of our home for the past 6 1/2 months- and realistically has spent about 5 weeks here and the other time in treatment centers and group home environments. She says she’s ready to be with a family- but we all wonder how much has the distance physically now correlated to her trust and attachment to us as parents?
It’s never easy when your child tells you they have a tough time wrapping their head around the family structure. I have a birth mom, but my wife is also mom. I have a birth dad, and you are also dad. I have grandfathers on both sides, but also my birth grandfather who I’ve gotten to know over the past year and a half. She wants to keep herself safe and make sure her needs are met- but knows she needs the love and support of parents so that she can have a successful adult life.
Meanwhile our oldest daughter wants desperately to be at home- and let’s moments of impulse overtake her that could delay that reunification. You can’t will the system to bend to you when you’ve made decisions that show you can’t regulate your emotions properly. So we remind her that she needs to show the three R’s- being real, being respectful and being responsible- to show all of the parties involved that she wants to return to a home environment safely.
My wife runs around to meeting after meeting and this person and that person which the children seem to take for granted on their behalf to make sure that all of our needs are in place. We want our children to be living with us- we want to make sure their mental health needs are taken care of- and we want to provide the structure for them to thrive in the best circumstances possible. Once again though, a lot of the work needs to go into their court.
It’s one thing to say you want to be home and enjoy the comforts and privileges of a family- it’s quite another when you are in trouble and unwilling to use any of your coping skills you’ve been taught to keep yourself safe in that same environment. Breakthroughs happen when words and actions match up. They must be willing to risk their comfort zone and attempt a new path. Even if it doesn’t work the first time- if the outcome is better than hospitalization or leaving the home, I hope they see that the effort is worth it.
Now that school is over, I’m sure some of the anxiety my youngest goes through will be alleviated. It’s now her time to step up to the plate and shine. Will she walk away from situations when she feels stressed out? Does she have enough stress-release outlets that are safe when she feels like she’s going to lose her temper? Will she communicate with us or at us? These are all questions that are up in the air and can only be answered as she enters our home again.
We still love her and we still want her to be a productive, thriving member of our household. Stay tuned as the game of life unfolds.