Have you asked yourself, “Where did my friends go?” since you started your journey with reactive attachment disorder? For many of us, a RAD diagnosis wasn’t the parenting experience we signed up for. We dreamed of fun play dates at the park and maybe having neighbors with children of the same age who we would become life-long friends with. And we’d watch our children grow up together and go to the same schools and be on the same soccer teams. The boys and girls would date and go to prom and it would all be like a cute version of High School Musical. Until they go off to the same college and we all watch them, arm-in-arm with tears in our eyes. Then go off and celebrate with many bottles of wine!
Well that’s not how it’s going, is it? For me it wasn’t. From kindergarten through second grade, none of his friends had moms who I had anything in common with. When we moved, the neighborhood seemed more promising. It was over Spring Break during second grade and he wanted to ride the bus home the very first day. There was a boy in his class who lived in the neighborhood who’d help him so I said OK. He jumped off the bus that afternoon saying, “Mom! Can I go to Andrew’s house!” This boy had obviously made an impression and the two of them became fast friends.
He also made friends with the kiddos who lived behind us. And the boy in the cul-de-sac up the street. And a boy a couple of streets over. So you might think things from a friendship standpoint were going well for him. And as a result for me. But as is so often the case with RAD kiddos, being friends with them can be intense. And they can overwhelm their friends with attention, with demands for doing things their way and impulsivity which children don’t always understand. So his relationships with the kids in the neighborhood were somewhat fluid. They’d be fine for a while then someone would just burn out and have to take a break. So there’d be a period of no contact.
As August got older and his behaviors got more problematic, I started to feel some of the separation. It wasn’t intentional; who knows what to say to someone whose son got arrested for stealing a cell phone in 6th grade? Or bringing vodka to 8th grade? He’d switched schools so much that he wasn’t in the same schools as any of the neighborhood friends which further isolated him and us.
Then you wake up one day and you figure out your child doesn’t have anything in common with the neighborhood kids. You can’t coordinate play dates because no one wants their kiddo to play with yours. And After the stolen cell phone his Saturdays were spent doing community service. You can’t chat at the pool about what your kids are up to because there isn’t anything your kid is doing that other kids are involved in.
Any of this sound familiar? Nothing is intentional in any of this. It’s just life. Just the saga of having a RAD kiddo who doesn’t fit in the box of “normal” when it comes to social interaction. And how that translates to your social interactions as well. It can be pretty defeating and isolating when you are dealing with issues your friends and your children’s parents can only hear about and be shocked.
When August first got diagnosed I sought out comfort on social media where I found a lot of parents like me. The only problem was they all seemed to be living everywhere except where I was. And it only goes so far when you can’t crack open a bottle of wine or dive deep into a pint of ice cream over the internet.
Now don’t get me wrong. I have some amazing friends. Some who have seen me through every scream and tear and terrified moment. They hear everything August does and take it all in without judgement or alienation. And I love them dearly.
Here is an idea of why our friends may have a hard time sticking it out. Your true friends may not be able to help you but they will get you and they will stick by you. And the best friends will bring wine!
Until Next time,