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Tough love for RAD

Updated on February 11, 2012

Time to say goodbye.

When is it time to tell your child they have to move out? What is the line between helping and enabling? How can you tell the difference between genuine distress and covert manipulation?

These questions are hard enough with emotionally healthy adult children. For the parent of a person with Reactive Attachment Disorder everything is more complicated. The inability to form healthy attachments causes a host of developmental problems, primary among them the inability to trust. Lack of trust and relationship in childhood sabotages any attempt at discipline and training, and this leads to serious gaps in the development of conscience.

I made my 19 year old daughter move out yesterday. She has been out of school for over a year and a half, and in that time has worked a total of about two days, contributed nothing to the house financially, and as little as possible chore wise, moved in with a boyfriend for two weeks, came running home when he broke up with her, had a baby for a different boy, given the baby up for adoption, gone to bars with friends, gone on a family cruise (which we paid for in full), climbed into a car with a total stranger and got raped, climbed out the bedroom window at night, had a boy hiding in her closet when I came home unexpectedly, and the list goes on. I must add that there has been good in this year and a half. She grew up some with the pregnancy and adoption, cast out a demon that had been bothering her as long as she can remember, accepted Christ and was baptized. But being a Christian involves having a relationship with someone you can't even see, so there are serious difficulties with this for a RAD person. It became clear to us that there is nothing more we can teach her, and providing her with a free home, bed, food and all necessities was not teaching her to become responsible for her own actions. So she had to leave.

This was not at all easy to do. For a couple of months she was fine. Then about a week before the date, both of her opportunities for transitional help fell through, and she completely panicked. She was borderline suicidal, weeping and throwing up. But we have given her so many second chances, and extended her stay here over and over, this time we had to follow through. So yesterday she packed up some of her things and I dropped her off at a friend's house where she will be staying for a couple of weeks. I don't know what will happen after that.

My heart aches, and is relieved at the same time, and I feel a bit guilty for feeling relieved. But I think we have done the right thing for her and for us, and our younger son.

Follow up news

Rhonda has now been gone for six months.  The first week was very hard.  She moved in with the parents of the father of her baby.  She came home to shower, since they had no running water.  Then she asked for toilet paper since they had none.  Then she was hungry and we gave her some food to eat. 

After a week we found a ministry to abused and hurting women where she could live.  It is intense discipleship and accountability.  She chose to go, and seemed very happy about it.  The church payed her first month's rent.  She got a job, worked about a month, and lost it.  then she kept breaking rules and being put on restriction.  Finally, after four and a half months she got fed up of not being able to go where she wanted and do what she wanted, and moved back in with the same people as before.  This time we are not cushioning the results of her choices.  They are about to be evicted and Rhonda is now looking for another place to go.  She does have another job, and I hope she can keep it.  We hear from her occasionally.

Things at home are much calmer and predictable.  My son, Mark, feels more free to have his friends and girlfriend over.

Next article: Tough Love for RAD One Year Later


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    • songoftruth profile imageAUTHOR

      Elizabeth Jane Robertson 

      4 years ago from Joplin, Missouri

    • SongofTheSaints profile image


      4 years ago from Colorado

      Hello again, I did look the group up on FB but there are several. Can you pinpoint which one as I'm actually referring this to my friend. Her daughter is 20 and my friend and her husband need emotional support and wisdom from others. Thanks again, Kari

    • songoftruth profile imageAUTHOR

      Elizabeth Jane Robertson 

      5 years ago from Joplin, Missouri

      Yes, SongofTheSaints, your friend may contact me through a facebook page called Reactive Attachment Disorder. We are a support group for people dealing with this difficulty.

    • SongofTheSaints profile image


      5 years ago from Colorado

      Good afternoon, I have been reading your posts and have a dear friend who is experiencing so much of what you describe. Her daughter is now 20 and they are prayerfully seeking solutions. Would it be possible for her to contact you?

      Blessings, Kari


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