Hope is a verb
I’ve noticed the word “hope” gets tossed around a lot these days. We hope things turn out favorably and of course, we all hope our brain injured or attachment disordered kids will get with the program and become decent, contributing members of society. Though we may have a deep longing for these things, those interpretations of “hope” can feel flimsy, especially in the face of unrelenting toxic behaviors that often come with parenting a child with invisible special needs.
My many years of parenting traumatized children have taught me a few things about hope, though. First and foremost, I’ve learned that hope is a verb, not a noun. Hope isn’t just a wish for a brighter tomorrow. It is a choice we make each and every day. It also happens as the result of something we actively do, even when we’re tired or things are very hard.
Real hope — the kind that reaches the depths of our soul and has the power to carry us through the hard times requires commitment, dedication, and intentional action in order to make it happen.
Parenting hurt kids can feel hopeless
Parenting children who struggle with issues such as Reactive Attachment Disorder, FASD, or complex developmental trauma can feel the exact opposite of hope. By definition, hope is an expectation that things will happen a certain way and produce a desirable outcome. On the other hand, hopelessness is a feeling of defeat and utter despair where nothing good seems possible. The toxic stress and unrelenting behavior problems that come with parenting a traumatized or substance exposed child can leave us feeling beyond hopeless and even chronically dark, angry, and defeated.
That’s not a fun place to live. Nor is it healthy for anyone. So how do we change it?
Rather conveniently, H.O.P.E is an acronym that perfectly outlines the what it takes to achieve and hold onto real hope and deep, lasting peace. For this reason, hope has also become one of my favorite words and one I like to use often.
Healing: Healing is the #1 most essential element of hope. Our kids aren’t the only ones that need healing, though. As parents, and especially moms, we need it too. In fact, healing for the entire family starts with us moms, not our kids!
Healing is all about taking responsibility for our own situations, choosing to acknowledge and repair whatever might be broken or preventing us from moving forward, and being willing to change our own thoughts, feelings, and actions that are contributing to the dysfunction. Most of our kids have no idea how to do that. They need us to show them the way and lead by example.
Opportunity: A huge part of reclaiming hope is taking advantage of the opportunities for help, healing, and growth that are right in front of you. So often we focus on the lack of resources, the lack of mental health services, and the lack of respite care that exists in our society that we overlook the golden opportunities for healing and growth that are right in front of us. Even worse is when we see them, but don’t take them seriously or take advantage of them because we’re too busy hiding behind excuses about why we can’t use them or why they won’t work for us.
Truth bomb #1: The best opportunities for healing and growth might not look like what you thought they would. They may not be what everyone else is doing. They also probably won’t be found where everyone else is looking, either. If you’re looking for help, healing and growth in all the same places that everyone else is looking, but no one is wildly successful in finding any of it, perhaps that isn’t the right place to look. Be brave! Think and look outside the box. Try different options. That’s where you’ll find the real gems.
Truth bomb #2: The people who are able to provide real help and services for our families don’t work for free. It takes a great deal of education, investment, and work on their part to gain the expertise needed to handle kids and families like ours. This is also their livelihood. It’s what puts food on their table and feeds their family.
If we as parents want more help, and want more highly skilled providers to enter the marketplace (especially in our own communities), and want colleges to do a better job of training our doctors, therapists, social workers, and schools to be truly trauma-informed, WE have to be willing to invest in the opportunities that already do exist and be willing to work with those who have already paid the price to be qualified to do this work.
At the end of the day, it is about money. If a skilled provider can’t make enough money to support their family and make it worth their while to continue providing services, they are going to do something else that will.
Keep going. If something isn’t working, try something different. Look for new opportunities for healing and growth. Surround yourself with people who get you, who understand your life, and are willing and able to help you move forward. Arm yourself with new tools and skills and keep trying until you find what does work and keeps you moving in a positive direction. Stay strong and don’t give up too soon. You really can do this and your efforts will eventually be rewarded.
Empowerment: Empowerment is the process of taking control, owning your own situations, and purposely taking care of yourself along the way. It’s the power and permission we give ourselves to step up to the plate, take the lead, figure things out, and make them work.
It’s also about believing that healing, opportunities, and perseverance are worth the effort and worth whatever it takes to get there. Most of the time empowerment has very little to do with our kids. It’s much more about us as moms cultivating hope, sharing it with others, and believing that WE are worth it and so is our family.
Hope matters…and ti matters a lot! Hope changes everything and is worth whatever it takes to make it happen. Even if things are very hard, please know that hope (and especially H.O.P.E) can still happen in your life.
Hope also isn’t as hard to find as it might seem. In fact, it might be right in front of you! Parent Coaching is all about helping you create and achieve lasting H.O.P.E. If you’re ready and willing to leave trenches of chaos, move past all the trauma and contention, and learn how to create a much more positive experience for yourself and your family, let’s chat! I can help you get there!
Schedule a FREE Parent Empowerment Session!
A Parent Empowerment session is a complimentary consultation session designed to help us get to know each other a bit and see if Parent Coaching may be the right fit to help you leave the trenches of chaos and restore hope for yourself and your family.