How To Love A Child Who Won’t Love You Back [Podcast].

Season 2, Episode 14- The Honestly Speaking Parenting Podcast

It’s a question we receive several times a week from people all over the country. “How do I love a child who keeps pushing me away, and could care less about me or my family?” We, along with our co-host Nicole Goerges, are right in the middle of this trench.

Episode 14 .001

That first real hug. Hearing “I love you mom,” and knowing she means it. Watching him participate peacefully with the rest of your family. Having her not melt down when dad puts a gentle hand on her shoulder to guide her on an afternoon walk through the neighborhood.

These are all things that most parents are accustomed to on a daily basis with their children. They’re normal, everyday, functioning activities. But when your child has come from a traumatic past, bounced from home to home through foster care before coming to yours, or been adopted out of an abusive experience, these are moments you cherish more than gold.

In today’s episode of Honestly Speaking we discuss this openly and share some practical advice on navigating the tricky waters of reactive attachment disorder. Both of our families are currently walking this road. We understand the trials and the frustration. We’ve said this a million times and we’ll continue to say it- You’re not alone! There is hope!

Listen to the podcast.


Notes and quotes from the show.

One of our favorite things from Honestly Speaking is that every time we record an episode, we learn from one another. We always walk away feeling empowered from the discussion. It makes this show worth it but it also has us excited every week. This episode was no different. Here are some of our favorite quotes…

Did you learn something new today? Were you enlightened or challenged? We would love to hear some of your thoughts. What were some of your favorite quotes? Click here and share with us.

Resources and links.

As we often do, we receive lots of messages asking where you can find resources. The best thing we can share is to spend some time Googling “Reactive Attachment Disorders” in your specific area. You will find thousands of outlets. We will share one we found to be helpful…

We love the adoptive, foster, and special needs community because there is camaraderie and connection. If you’re in the trench of parenting a child with attachment issues, you’re not alone. We would love to connect with you through our Facebook Page, over email, or in the comment section below. Don’t be a stranger!

Question: Are you in the trenches of parenting a child with attachment issues? Share your story with us in the comment section below. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Allisonm

    How to love a child who cannot yet love you back? Our three children were diagnosed with severe RAD when they came to us for adoption. At the classes for parents with kids suffering from RAD, they would tell us that their techniques should work for every family there but ours. They didn’t know what to tell us, other than that maybe our kids couldn’t grow up in a family.

    Though I can see the challenging side to every situation, I am also a relentlessly hopeful person. The words I use to define things frame the way I approach things. So a big part of the way I love my children–who I think do now love us back as best they can–is to use hopeful and compassionate language about them inside my head. My children have a lot of reasons for guarding their hearts with huge fortresses. It is hard to separate their post-traumatic-stress reactions from their attachment challenges. It all boils down to safety. When you have been unsafe for as much of your life as our children have been, physically, emotionally, etc., and have lived with at least ten families, you don’t buy into the idea of safety and permanency very quickly. I wouldn’t. It is a sign of my kids’ sanity that they don’t trust. It is a sign of their sanity that they fight for survival. So safety is the short- and long-term question.

    This is, of course, complicated by the fact that we are not perfect parents. We make mistakes. We lose our perspective and sometimes our cool. We get tired–chronically exhausted, if we are being honest. Loving and parenting kids who physically attack you daily and/or who fight you over every single little thing is really wearying. For years, our lives revolved around the therapy schedule. We learned that our kids couldn’t change, so we had to. We had to become the parents our kids needed so they could eventually feel safe enough to learn to trust the fallible parents we are and ultimately love us. Being loved as a mom would be nice, but being able to grasp reciprocity and to love others are things our children need to know how to do if they are going to be fully functioning adults. We are eight years in and I think one of our children loves me, I’m not sure about the others. They probably do, insofar as they are able. Some hearts are still heavily guarded. I remain hopeful.

    • It’s so hard to be hopeful. Keep remaining that way. You are not alone. We know how this is!