Monday, April 7, 2014

When Love is Not Enough

Here's a scenario: a family with two adopted teens attends a church. The teens have emotional and psychological problems that demand regular therapy. Perhaps residential treatment. The adoptive parents - aloof or unwilling to admit their teens' deep-seated psychosis - deny them consistent professional treatment. 

Does that constitute neglect?

If a child was born needing a breathing apparatus to live, is it neglect for parents to remain aloof or unwilling to learn how to apply a breathing tube?

These teens of which I describe are anti-social, angry, manipulative, disrespectful, chronic liars, non-compliant, and steal without conscience and remorse for their inappropriate actions. 

To the extreme.

One adopted teen is sexually active as a heterosexual, the other adopted one is an active lesbian . . .often seen engaging in sexual behavior with her lover inside the church building. Fondling each other in the pew! 

These teens have had multiple school suspensions to the point the parents are "homeschooling." 

The adoptive mother has a narcissistic enjoyment of sympathy as she claims, "I don't know what more I can do?" She fails to supervise them in the building - drops them off at times to go do her other business - and is argumentative when fielding sincere suggestions to help the teens and hold them accountable for inappropriate behavior.

Her teens aren't just adolescent trouble-makers. In my professional - uninvited - opinion, they have attachment issues. Probably Reactive Attachment Disorder. 

Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is most common in foster and adopted children. Here's some info on RAD:

"The young person with RAD has a great gaping hole, an intense - unmet - craving for love and approval, but doesn't believe it can be genuine when it is given. Relationships are more like contracts: I give you this if you give me that. For example, a girl will have sex in order to have the status of having a boyfriend, A boy will be friendly in order to have privileges of sharing another's games. He may steal from his friends or parents in order to get what he wants. She will lie in order to keep receiving the benefits of a relationship. I know these characteristics are common in many teenagers, but with RAD youth they go to an extreme. The incidences of crime, drug use and teenage pregnancy are almost universal.

"Many run away, or get arrested. Suicide and self mutilation are very common.

"If they feel they can get away with it and still have something they want, they will still do whatever they want. By this time their skills of manipulation are well refined, and they don't tolerate frustration well.

"Caring for a teenager or adult with RAD is very draining, because of the constant manipulation and lying."

 Dr. Patricia Jones of Wolf Creek Academy, a therapeutic board school, says, "Rebellion, disrespect, lying and stealing, lack of remorse for their actions, an inability to properly engage with the family, as well as anti-social behaviors seen outside the home, may become the 'norm' for the teen."

Aside from regular therapy, one of the best parental responses to teens with RAD is CONSISTENT ROUTINE and CONSEQUENCES. Love alone is not enough.

The teens in my scenario live in a chaotic, crowded home with working parents who don't hold them accountable. Who aren't consistent. The church minister does not hold the parents accountable. His diatribe is "be longsuffering." 

It's all neglect. Of the seriousness of the issue and acting at the onset. Of giving parents the proper counsel. Of showing the balance of law and love to truly help the teens which protects other church members. 

And so the cycle of lying, manipulation, church vandalism, false allegations against the laity, belligerent behaviors, no consequences, and thus good members leaving continues.

If you're a teacher - or clergy - with RAD teens in your environment, Here is a helpful description of RAD, what not to do (i.e., sympathize with the child), and how best to help

If you're a parent of a child with RAD, here are Positive Parenting Skills. Because love is not enough.

No comments: