What is KEY to reducing childhood behavioral disorders?
What is KEY to reducing childhood animal abuse?
What is KEY to reducing high school drop out rates?
What is KEY to: reducing teenage pregnancy, alcohol abuse, domestic violence…
reducing substance abuse, mental health issues and finally,
What is KEY to reducing the rate of imprisonment?
Well, that would be an awful lot of keys, now, wouldn’t it? Or, would it?
What if there was one common denominator—one key—to all of these issues? If there was, would we be investing money, time, energy and creativity into educating people about “the KEY” and how to use it to prevent this startling array of social problems? Well, SURE! Right?
But, we’re not. We’re not.
Well…okay, there is one organization that is actively educating new and soon-to-be parents on the whats, whys and hows of bonding with baby. One organization in Pullman, WA that is aggressively thinking outside of the box and working diligently to help prevent all of these debilitating social issues.
Education and prevention, they are the tools. Infant bonding and attachment are the KEY.
When a parent successfully creates a healthy and secure bond with baby, baby attaches to that parent in a healthy and secure way in response. So, when baby cries, and mom or dad respond, baby learns to trust. When baby cries and nothing happens, the natural cycle of bond and attachment is in danger of not happening. When the bonding/attachment DOES happen it’s almost magical. Baby will have better self-esteem, will learn how to trust others, will NOT be enraged at mother, self and world. Baby will bounce back from life’s trials and tribulations with less effort. Baby will be far less likely to have the social problems listed above. Baby will be a better parent one day herself. And the cycle will continue.
So, let’s do it! Let’s use that KEY to educate and prevent and lets do it NOW.
Text SAYB to 760-670-3144 to subscribe to the FREE, daily BABY BIT. Sent to your cell phone each Monday through Friday (except U.S. holidays), BABY BITS are little daily-sized nuggets of parent coaching—specific to bonding and attachment.
Visit www.SmileAtYourBaby.org to learn more.
Mail a check to: Smile At Your Baby!, P.O. Box 1517, Pullman, WA 99163
Volunteer by emailing Shelley@SmileAtYourBaby.org and saying, “I want to help.”
Ask about joining our Board of Directors—help us GROW.
Shelley Calissendorff, Founder/Executive Director
Smile At Your Baby!
March 28, 2012
“Until recently, I was still rebellious,” states nineteen-year-old Trevor. Stealing and vandalizing have only recently stopped, Trevor reports, because he’s discovered that, “If I keep myself busy doing things that are important, it helps. I just recently got a job. It makes me feel better. I like to feel appreciated.”
Trevor, a very bright Caucasian male is a survivor of Reactive Attachment Disorder, or RAD as it’s commonly known. He recognizes there’s a cycle that repeats itself, when parents don’t bond with their children and yet, recently, when he and his girlfriend got pregnant, he was disappointed when she decided to have an abortion. He says he’s really into caring for little kids these days and has a fondness for children. Astonishing, when you consider what HIS childhood was like.
Born the second son of an eighteen-year-old mother who had three more boys and a girl after him, Trevor didn’t start his life on Easy Street. Catherine was gone much of the time, off with her friends, still wanting to play the role of a typical teenager. Breakfast and lunch meant fending for yourself. Dinner was usually fast-food take-out. Trevor has no recollection of either parent ever reading to him. As an older brother he remembers making up bottles of formula for younger siblings and propping the bottles. Trevor’s biological dad did his best to care for and bond with his three sons, but also worked full-time to support the family. Aunt Veronica stepped in when she could. So did the State of Illinois. “As far as I can remember, we were always involved with C.P.S. (Child Protective Services), but we didn’t go into foster care until we were around four, five and six.”
Birth mom Catherine had moved on to an older man, Clark, with whom she had the second half of her six children. All six children lived together under one roof for a brief time-as Trevor recalls, but only three were moved out because of their bruises. The three Clark did not father. Catherine relinquished her parental rights. That day, she told the boys she loved them-that is the only time Trevor remembers Catherine saying those critically important words out loud. Trevor, and his brothers, Steve and Adam were sent to three different foster homes. Once a year or so they’d get to see one another when the caseworker could coordinate a get-together. Trevor missed his brothers terribly.
When asked about his early years Trevor says, “I remember a few things…but most of it’s bad stuff. My mom, she’s still irresponsible. I don’t trust her. To this day, she makes promises she doesn’t keep.”
The RAD diagnosis came when Trevor was 10 years old. After twenty or more foster care, kinship care, group home placements, and hospitalizations he and his older brother finally landed with adoptive dad, David. When Trevor was younger he used to like to lie down with his head in his adoptive dad’s lap and drink out of a bottle or sippy cup and would let his dad stroke his hair. He couldn’t have known it at the time, but he probably did himself a huge favor by allowing that to happen.
Looking back now and recognizing what happened to him, he admits, “The manipulation was huge.” When kids bullied him at school he’d sit for hours and think about how to get them back-usually using violence. Then there was the fire starting and the drugs. Marijuana was his drug of choice, though many were tried. He smoked so much pot that he ended up with MRSA, was coughing up blood and had to go see the doctor. He says he’ll never forget the look on that doctor’s face, “The doctor looked at me like I was a total piece of ****.” He says he quit taking drugs because he needed to get a job. He couldn’t get the job he really wanted because they drug tested potential new employees there.
Through it all he finds himself fortunate. Trevor claims many children have died in foster care in his state and he feels lucky just to be alive.
We wish him the very best of luck and pray that things really are on an upswing for him. They say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. If that’s true, this young man must be a behemoth! Be all that you can be, Trevor. The world is in the palm of your hand. Your adult years will be what you make them. Be a force for positive energy!
All names and places have been changed. Smile At Your Baby! would like to thank “Trevor” for allowing us to interview him and for sharing his story.
By Shelley Calissendorff