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Author Topic: When a Stranger Calls You Mom  (Read 19499 times)
« on: September 26, 2007, 05:45:13 AM »

When a Stranger Calls You Mom: A Child Development and Relationship Perspective on Why Traumatized Children Think, Feel, and Act the Way They Do.
by Katherine Leslie, Ph. D., published by Brand New Day Publishing, 2nd edition 2004.
ISBN # 0-9741731-1-8

This book is about the effects of trauma on child development, children's responses to trauma, why children respond in these ways, how their responses translate into family life, and a novel

approach to living and working with these children.  Trauma, as defined by Webster's Dictionary, is "a painful emotional experience, or shock, often producing a lasting psychic effect."  In this

book, the word trauma refers to recurring exposure to or infliction of abuse, neglect, or chaos (e.g., domestic violence) on children by parents/caregivers primarily during the first three years of

children's lives.  This does not include normal separation experiences such as parents going out to dinner and leaving their baby with a sitter, or toddlers left in excellent day care facilities for

limited periods of time.

The book is divided into four sections: child development within the context of parent-child relationships, parent-child relationships unique to foster/adoptive homes, parenting traumatized

children, and therapeutic interventions for traumatized children and their foster/adoptive families. 

Two aspects of this book make it different from the many wonderful books already available on the subject.  First, by placing the issue of childhood trauma within a child development

perspective, I'm able to draw some conclusions as to mwhy children respond to trauma in the ways that they do.  Second, by comparing the unique parent-child relationship dynamics in

foster/adoptive homes with those of normal parent-child relationships, parents, professionals, and law makers will have a greater understanding and appreciation for the devastating and long-

term effects of trauma on children, familiesm and society, and the immense psychological and emotional toll it takes to raise a traumatized child.

(pages 12-13)

The author gives a nice explanation of the difference between punishment and consequence:


**physically painful
**sometimes illogical
**removal of object/privilege


**nonemotional/matter of fact
**not physically painful
**not humiliating
**adding of task/responsibility

(page 149)

Summary of "Parental Expectations" when parenting a traumatized child:

Expect to feel disillusioned.

Expect punishment to be fairly ineffective in making permanent changes in behavior.

Expect to control the child's behaviors, but not necessarily to change them.   (Respond to the child at his emotional age--help the child learn to control himself.)

Do not expect your values and morals to be internalized by your child or generalized to other situations for years to come.

Do not expect your child to act responsibly or to take responsibility for wrongdoing.   (Hold your child responsible for how they acted when they messed up...but expect that there will be times when  they act irresponsibly.)

Expect to feel conflited about what you think is good parenting for traumatized children.   (It won't necessarily be the same as good parenting for birth children.)

Do not expect to make your child's life easier, if he dosn't want it to be easier. 

Expect to mess up."Always remember that parenting behaviors such a screaming, yelling, scolding, correcting, answering dumb questions, and intimidation make you feel bad and are mostly a waste of your time.  Ask yourself if the behavior is good for you?  Stop talking and take action.  Make the child's behavior a problem for her and not for you."

(pages 150-154)

Summary of "Parenting Skills":

Prevention: removing obstacles to success prior to failure
**remove temptations
**set clear, concise limits and boundaries
**establish family rules
**create a quiet, safe, organized environment
**create routines

Teach Responsibility

**natural consequences (brought about by the situation
**logical consequences (ordered by the adult)
**share control (give appropriate choices; allow children to have control over the things they should have control over; instill a sense of responsibility and self-efficacy
**do no agree with an illogical child

Behavior Modification
**ignore negative attention-seeking behaviors, but truly ignore them.  Don't say "I'm ignoring you."  Don't roll your eyes or huf and puff.
**acknowledge negative attention seeking behaviors, but do not nag the child about them
**give positive attention for acceptable pr prosocial behaviors and on progress, but expect a relapse when you do.  Also, don't overdo praise when a child does what is expected.

Emotion Coaching

**identify and acknowledge feelings, needs, wants; name the emotion

**guide the processing of feelings but fo not solve the problem

**draw attention to the four main emotions that help build a conscience (pride, empathy, guilt, embarrassment)

**acknowledge excessive shame that prevents conscience building; separate "bad" behavior from the "good self."

**prompt the child by saying what you think he feels and then check it out with him

**role play and act out conflictual situations both before and after the fact

**use humor to lighten the moment but not to ridicule the child

**use and teach "I" statements (I feel...(emotion)....when you...(behavior)...because...(reason).  What I want is ....(need/want).

(pages 154-158)

There's obviously much more to the book......I especially appreciated the idea of the emotion coaching.  There's also a very good section in the book that refers to parenting from the trneches with 18 good tips.

I also appreciated the fact that the author is supportive of homeschooling for these reasons:

1) reduce conflict by restricting the number of people in our children's lives

2) minimize their opportunities for acting inauthentically or manipulatively, and

3) provide more "mommy and daddy" or "coach" time which increases attachment opportunities

One more thing...she has a web site. I've not checked it out myself, but it's listed as


« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2007, 01:46:10 PM »

As far as availability for this has been brought to my attention that it is NOT available from (although it is listed for a used price of about $73.00!!!!)

I also did not find it on the barnes and noble site or  Borders lists it for possible in-store pick-up, but apparently their on-line stock is affiliated with amazon.

The book itself lists an address where you can send a check for $28.90 (includes the $3.95 for S&H)

Brand New Day Publishing
250 Silene Drive
Pittsboro, NC 27312

OR there's a website where the book can be purchased for $24.95 + S&H.  Here is a link to the information you need.

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« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2007, 12:06:10 PM »

Katherine's books are great!  Getting her in person is even better!  She was able to visit our home last year and gave us some great insight.


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« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2011, 06:54:16 AM »

I just got a copy of this book on the recommendation of my AT and I have found myself as changed after reading it as I was after Heather Forbes Beyond Consequences.  The child development portion, which is somewhat technical, was invaluable.  My understanding has grown ten-fold, and with it my ability to deal with the daily junk slung at me. This book is one of the few I will keep on my nightstand.

DON'T get this from'll wind up with an older edition.  Get it straight from her website (listed in prior post). 

"The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time." -Abraham Lincoln

"To be or not to be--that is the question." -Hamlet

No bios.  1 adopted dd 5 (came to us at 3 1/2 in a domestic open adoption--not quite so open after we learned the truth)
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