What Makes Up a Family?

Please accept my apologies for writing my Family Friday post on Sunday! I have been battling a two-day migraine. And I’ve spent big chunks of the last couple weeks teaching middle school (maybe a connection?) But interestingly, my time teaching gave me much of insight for this post and got me thinking. What makes up a family?

This is not intended to digress into a political statement about rights of minority populations or anything like that. But since you asked, I do believe that any couple who has the capacity to love a child should be allowed to parent. However, we all know that families are made of many more combinations than mothers and fathers. And this is where my time in middle school came into play. There was a student who had to stay home one day and watch her nephew. And a teacher who is co-parenting her grandchildren with her daughter. There were many students who referred to step-parents.

And it got me to thinking about how the make-up of a family affects children both positively and negatively. August spent his first year with his birth mom and grandmother. After that the grandmother moved away. The birth mom didn’t have reliable child care and routinely left him with friends or neighbors, sometimes for days at a time. At the end of the second year was when his situation caught the attention of the Russian social services and they removed him. But what if his grandmother had stayed? What if they had made that unconventional family? Would he have had a stable enough life? Hard to know.

There’s no doubt that there’s never enough people in a child’s life to love them. So making up a “family” that includes more than the nuclear family can be a wonderful thing. Particularly for a child who suffers from early trauma. But that only is the case if everyone is on the same page regarding how the treatment of that child is handled. Aunts and Uncles and grandparents have to know that consistency is key when working with a child with reactive attachment disorder. And that child will exploit any holes in the grown up “armor” no matter how small. So it requires a lot of communication and patience to be an extended family under one roof with a RAD kiddo!

But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Like I said, it makes total sense to give a RAD kiddo as much love as your family has to give. And caring for your RAD kiddo can be exhausting. Having some more relief hitters would be excellent! And whether your kiddo is adopted or a birth child, family is whoever is in that child’s life who loves them.

Here is a wonderful article that really drives home the point about what makes up a family. Because while we talk about our families in the context of our RAD kiddos, families really take on so many different forms. And we need to celebrate all of them!

Hopefully there are always “family” of many types in your and your child’s lives.

Until next time,

Shannon

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