Debra Wesselmann, MS, LIMHP

Debra Wesselmann, MS, LIMHP

Author, Mental Health Therapist, Researcher, Expert in Attachment Trauma

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A common parent statement: “I can’t nurture her until she starts treating me right.”

distraught childIt makes sense that  parents feel this way when they have experienced intense hurt related to repeated rejection and disrespect from their traumatized adopted and foster children.  However, there exists a real Catch-22:  When traumatized or hurt children do not trust adults as sources of comfort and security, they are unable to trust their authority.  They do not believe that adults have their best interest at heart—they believe adults are out to defeat them, criticize them, or harm them.  None of us respects the authority of someone who we believe is an enemy.

We also have to remember that children put up walls and close themselves off to expectations of love when they are only infants.  When hope of being loved and cared for is met with indifference or anger, emotional walls become the only form of self-protection.  We need to remember that the hurt, shut-down infant remains a part of the child—an “inner infant.”  These deep feelings of mistrust entrenched, and parents must be very brave to hurdle the child’s walls of protection.  Parents must be able to tolerate rejection at the very same time that they are heaping love and affection upon their child.  This is the only way that the child can learn to view the parent as comforter and nurturer. This is the only way the child will be able to believe the parent’s attempts to “parent” are based on love.

I would love to hear stories and ideas from others regarding how parents have scaled the walls and provide nurturing to children who seemed, at least at first, unable to receive love…

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