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indiscriminate affection "baby sitters dream but parents nightmare"


Hi all, I’m new here.
I have 2 beautiful daughters and am really needing some support and understanding from parents who relate.  We all came together some time ago now and it was a perfect match. There are many issues to deal with due to their past trauma and resulting behaviours but slowly I’m seeing improvements. One of the more difficult areas for me personally is dealing with their indiscriminate affection. It’s so tricky because they are so adorable! They smile and wave at strangers who wave back and sometimes try to take photos. They are smart kids (3-5yrs old) and their tactics really work. The poor little angels must have used it as survival in the past as they use it to try to get attention, food or drink and even in their words “love” from strangers. Teachers at their playgroup school tend to love watching them perform and dance to get as much attention as possible, and can’t see that this is not healthy. There was also abuse present so this leads to heavy suspicions of other aweful happenings. I do get it, I understand…but honestly it drives me crazy because I get judhed so harshly for teaching them not to cuddle their teachers , or my adult friends. I swaer, I’m so sick of adults thinking it’s ok to get their own needs for affection met by vulnerable children , it sounds harsh but I know it to be true… believe it or not. My agency even gave me a hard time! No understanding of how dangerous it is that they will actually apprach strangers if given the chance. It’s really sad , but if we are at a party and someone there who we dont know offers them even a drink, one of them in particular will spend the whole event trying to charm and get the attention of that person again, by smiling in (I hate to admit this!....)a borderline flirtatious manner, staring at them until they make eye contact then waves sweetly. She even waits until I’m not looking and appraches that person to try and engage them. I once asked Her why she was not watching the clown show and instead staring at the woman who gave us ice cream. her response was grumpily “I was trying to get more”. Her survival tactics work well…-unfortunately. People are flattered that the child has taken such a liking to them and being so adorable , adults do end up smitten with them, the girls seem fine to everyone else but get triggered again , and all their trauma and behaviour comes out again once we are home. I feel so mean speaking about them this way..i afore them and work hard to supoort their needs..but it’s really driving me crazy. Does anyone here relate?

Replies

I can’t relate but I just wanted to tell you that as a parent always follow your gut. You know your children better than anyone else. People can judge all they want because at the end of the day they don’t know your child or what happens once their trauma comes back. Especially anyone who has not adopted. They just don’t get it! I have noticed this when I try and explain to my family and friends about being very careful with the movies and shows we expose our daughter to because it could be a trigger. They think I’m being silly. It’s not silly! Either are your concerns. You want the best for them and you don’t want them to grow up thinking they have to act that way not to mention the danger aspect to it.

I wish I had advice but the only thing I can think of is to make sure they have counseling. Just stay strong and keep being their momma. Sounds to me like you’re doing a great job.

Posted by KChiarilli on Nov 09, 2018 at 1:18pm

I can relate, my 3 year old is adorable and loves everyone. People get so flattered when she goes up to them and gives a big hug, not realizing she does that to everyone. I correct her, tell her we don’t hug strangers. And usually the stranger thinks I’m being mean “but she’s so sweet”  or “oh, I’m not a stranger, I’m really nice!” And you wouldn’t believe the number of strangers who will just pick her up and give her a big kiss! Once i had to physically pull her out of a woman’s arms, because she wouldn’t out her down when I asked! I am stern with my daughter about it, and when people act like I’m being mean or make comments I get stern with them too. “She needs to learn stranger danger. We dont know you so it’s not appropriate.” Usually makes them back off, but I’m sure they think I’m an ogre!  But let them think what they want, we have to do what’s best for our kids. My daughter has been home for 18 months, and I am already seeing that behavior improve. Hang in thete

Posted by rn4kidz on Nov 09, 2018 at 2:57pm

Hi rn4kids,
Thanks so much for your reply. It’s great to be here and read your experience, although I’m sorry to hear you are also going through this. Yes I too used to have to pull them off strangers a lot too. I guess they have come far and that’s what keeps us going huh.
I really wish i could find the appropriate words to explain to people. Or that the kids other supporters would be on board with this. The oldest daughter just came in and told me that she ran up and have the swimming teacher a big hug ” because she’s the perfect teacher”. It makes me cringe to think what she dies when I’m not there! They go to swimming with play school. They have been diagnosed with indiscriminate affection attachment issues but even so, the supoort isn’t there from adults , as they are too busy enjoying the affection they get. It’s great to chat with you about this, thanks so much grin

Posted by mammamermaid on Nov 09, 2018 at 8:51pm

Hi Kchiarilli,

Thanks for the support. Yes it’s hard when trying to filter TV and movies! I understand as I do this too. When I don’t watch one first, it happens to be something that contains a trigger, so now i have to stay pretty vigilant too. Life will happen, triggers and danger will all happen but at least if we protect them to our absolute best ability we will limit this. Your words are so kind, thanks I’m glad I found this forum. grin

Posted by mammamermaid on Nov 09, 2018 at 9:04pm

Hi mama mermaid,

Oh yes I totally get this! My daughter was a teen when I adopted her. I’ve seen her go thru about 50 fixations on false mom’s in 3 years.She just moves from one superficial, mom infatuation to the next.

I used to say it was “like” an addiction, now I just say it IS an addiction complete with an endorphin hit for her to pretend to be a poor orphan and make baby like connections centered only on herself with a constant stream of adult women. Even when I am there.

These other women think I am cold, and, that they are the only ones who understand her. It is disturbing how many ignorant women there are who think they know better than a child’s mom! And like you say so many are seduced by the child’s flattering attention.

  The other part is as a therapist explained that the closer traumatized kids are to someone the harder it is for them. So being closest to me she shares a lot with me, but pushes me away our of fear and anger at what she never had. Though if I give her space she usually comes toward me. But she rushes to hug all these women on a drop of a hat.

If my daughter is prevented from her false attachments, she reacts just like a junky would who had her fix prevented.

I use language that she does not have appropriate boundaries, and is at risk for trafficking.This makes it clear to some. Others still don’t get it. As you say most think stranger danger does not apply to them.These false bonds undermine and hurt our family, and my daughters sense of security as well.They make it hard for her to know her own mind as she is so intent on doing stuff that she doesn’t care about to win affection and attention of others.

One social worker told me that no one should give my daughter gifts except me or when invited to birthday or holiday celebrations.  Also no one should give her parties except me. i tell my daughter she can not put adults numbers on her phone without my permission.

If it is someone who sees your child regularly who has inappropriate boundaries, it can help to nave a knowledgeable expert meet with them with you, and speak. A knowledgeable 3rd party on your side can do wonders.

But it still is a full time job and constant battle of only allowing caring adults with clear boundaries with her, and managing and keeping adults with misdirected good wishes at arms length for the health of our family.You are definitely on the right track and your children will be so much happier for it!

Posted by Happy Camper on Nov 18, 2018 at 6:32am

Happy Camper, thanks for your reply. Oh my stars, yes you certainly do understand, its great to have this forum, although I’m sorry you have also been through this. You are right with what you say, its really unfair that people judge us, think we are cold. Even a play school teacher, who had no idea about attachment trauma whatsoever and who was trying to undermine me kept going on about how much kids need to be cuddled. I thought “well Derr”! Yes of course! By family! It’s so hard, but so worth all the hard work. I totally hear you re: addictions come as all different things , relationships too that’s for sure- so I guess the harder we fight to support healthy boundaries the more good we are doing for their futures of being addiction free and knowing all their needs are met by their family, their World, the world is a safe place with healthy attachment. Thanks for your encouragement. All the best!

Posted by mammamermaid on Nov 20, 2018 at 9:20am

Oh, I get the “you’re so cold” bit!  the worst part is when I have to discipline her with others around.  even a mild scold will just cause her to burst into tears as she plays to her audience.  then of course they try to comfort her and she just clings to them sobbing like a lost child, and they look at me like I’m evil because I told her she couldn’t have candy before dinner or something. so they are sitting there hugging her and glaring at me while I"m telling them to please put her down, you are undermining my efforts to parent her, and they just argue with me that she needs comforting, how can I not feel bad looking at that sad little face?  and they don’t believe me that she is only carrying on that way because they are there and they just feed into it!

Posted by rn4kidz on Nov 22, 2018 at 1:24am

Such a good description rn4kidz! It was a life saving skill for them to learn to read adults like an expert. I am always amazed at how accurate my daughter is in her assessment of what she can get each person to believe, and what will get each one’s focused attention. Even with professionals.

She is so very aware of how others behave to me too, and will comment on it - that one smiled falsely at you, this one didn’t listen or let you speak etc. And this makes her mad (when others do it)! After years here, in her best times she has told people that she said things about me that were not true and she feels badly about and regrets that. Still it is an ongoing issue the fixation on lining up “false mom’s” by any means possible.

The even sadder thing as far as I am concerned is that in my daughters case there was an accompanying survival instinct to learn to bury ( to the point of not even being aware of) and not feeling her own feelings. Who can live with major physical and emotional pain (grief and rage) non stop?

It was more than 2 years with our family before my teen could even feel or identify any feelings of her own appropriately. She would go thru life threatening situations, or situations causing extreme anxiety for months insisting that just the opposite was true. Self harming behavior went right along with this. Now that she has finally started to be aware of her feelings, and able to identify them, she is often quite perceptive, and she is doing so much better; though this also is an ongoing process.

Posted by Happy Camper on Dec 17, 2018 at 4:00pm

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