Susan Badeau

There are only two lasting gifts we can give our children - one is roots, the other is wings

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Building Bridges of Hope III

Posted by Sue Badeau on February 11, 2013 at 8:55 AM

Hi there, welcome back and Happy Monday. I am so glad you are sticking with me for this 3-part series on bridges, trauma, healing and hope.


If you haven’t read Parts I, and II, please do so here http://tinyurl.com/a9eenra and http://tinyurl.com/aey3wey and be sure to add your comments to the brainstorming session. While you are at it, be sure to read about trauma reminders here: Part I http://tinyurl.com/awo7f5e and Part II http://tinyurl.com/ananerw .


So far, we have brainstormed alternate pathways for getting to our destination when our usual route, a bridge, has been flooded out and washed away. We have learned about the 3 keys - belief, evaluation, and action – to help us get from point “A” to point “B” even in the devastating circumstance of the flooded-out bridge.


Finally, we have observed the 3 factors that all of our alternate pathways have in common – they all require more time, expertise and resources, than driving across the bridge as originally planned would have required.


Now the time has come to tie all of this back to children who have experienced trauma.


First, the flooded out bridge analogy is apt because it is a reasonable visual representation of what happens in the child’s brain when he or she experiences trauma. Critical linkages (“bridges”) in the brain – often called neuro-transmitters – are literally flooded out and washed away by the toxic levels of hormones that flood the child’s brain when they repeatedly experience the “fight or flight or freeze” surges provoked by trauma.


Second, the bridge analogy works because it underscores the inadequacy and inappropriateness of the typical responses “we” (the collective “we” who establish public policy, make funding decisions and manage programs) often leap to when faced with decisions about children who have experienced trauma. “We” often react as if the child who has experienced trauma is permanently and irrevocably damaged from the trauma he or she experienced.


We then say this child can never be successful living in a permanent family, achieving in school, living in a community – or ________(fill in the blank here). OR, we say to the child, through our actions and decisions, essentially, “Get over it. Don’t let your past define you. Think positive. Try harder.” And if the child still cannot “make it” to the desired destination, we blame him, or her. “She must not have been trying hard enough.” “He has to learn to think more positively.” “She needs to stop dwelling on her past.” While we all understand that neither “giving up” and saying “never”, nor “just try harder and think positive” are viable options when faced with the flooded-out bridge scenario, somehow we think these are viable approaches to working with children.


We need to stop that insanity, and recognize that the way to give children hope and to help them to heal is to help them find the alternate route that works best for each child, individually. This will mean being willing to expend

  • Time
  • Expertise, and 
  • Resources 

 

To help children heal from trauma. Resources including funding for programs, services, treatments, ministries, family and community supports and evidence-informed strategies that work, not just random “therapies.”


And it also means recognizing that every child is unique. For some, waiting for the “building of the new bridge” is the safest and best approach, while for others, supporting their effort to “swim across” is best and for still others, finding that next bridge a ways down the road is the smart way to go. No two children are alike, so there is no”one-size-fits-all” response, yet there is always some response that will work.


Sometimes it requires trying multiple options before finding the one that will work best for This child. In This time. And This place. Other times, the first attempt will be successful.


We can’t know until we act. We won’t act until we believe. There is real hope for real healing for every child.


Are you ready to help one child face their flooded-out bridge and find an alternate route to their destination today? Do you believe? Will you act?

Categories: Building Bridges of Hope

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