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News: "When you're through changing, you're through."  Bruce Barton

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Author Topic: Dandelion on My Pillow, Butcher Knife Beneath  (Read 41079 times)
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« on: March 30, 2012, 12:15:20 AM »

I recently got this memoir of the Thomas family (i.e. Nancy Thomas, When Love Is Not Enough).  It's one part memoir of how she came to be a therapeutic parent and one part collection of stories of the kids that shaped her life.

The good:
-I got a MUCH clearer idea of how her techniques work on a day to day basis.  IMO, her prior book was poorly named, as her love is clearly evident in all that she describes....and she clearly made a world of difference for many of the kids she worked with.

-Several of the story arcs include info either directly from the kids (one of whom is a second author) or from therapy sessions where the kids opened up.  This gave me a much better idea of how the kiddos' minds work, how truly they view us as adversaries, and many ideas on how to manage particular behaviors.  Strength is critical to trust.  Trust is critical to love. You can see this in the examples of kiddos who healed.
-With all the details included from therapy sessions, I got a better idea of what a good attachment therapist should do for a family, what her interactions / relationship should be with the kiddo + the family. 

The bad:
-It's not that well written.  Poorly edited.  But you don't read this if you're looking for fine literature--you read it because memoirs of this type are scarce as hen's teeth. 

-The first section of the book is Nancy's story before any of this therapeutic parenting stuff began.  It was very long and painful for me to read....she was in an abusive relationship and is a textbook codependent (and I should know!).  Her first two kiddos born in this abusive relationship both developed attachment problems of varying degrees. The account of it was just a very long and painful one....maybe just because it triggered stuff for me, but maybe also because she talks so much about how she helped her therapeutic kiddos to heal and talked so little about how she helped herself and her biological kiddos to heal (although that clearly was a crucial piece of her decision to devote her life to helping so many other kids).   In the end though, I wonder if this wasn't her can see the trainwreck coming from the very beginning, and that made it all the more painful to make it through to the end.

-While this book certainly offers hope for what kids can achieve if they choose to heal, not so much for the parents.  She essentially closed off her home to new kids after one of her kids (who she had thought was on a healing track) nearly killed them all in their sleep.  It's a sobering reminder.....ALWAYS honor the threat....but in this case, there doesn't even necessarily have to be a threat.  It is just critical for us all to go above and beyond to protect ourselves and our kiddos with whatever means necessary.  If it weren't for the gun jamming when the kid loaded the wrong caliber ammo, this memoir would never have been written.  She had a huge bout of depression, and it was clear from what she said that it's not possible to be a good therapeutic parent when you are dealing with severe mental illness.  You absolutely have to take care of yourself.  Not that this is a bad part of the book per se, just don't expect to be filled with sunshine and daisies when you get to the end of the book.

All in all though, I would highly recommend this book to others interested in what it's really like to parent these kiddos.  I think it's important for us to know where we've come from, learn from the successes and failures of those who've gone before, and Nancy has a vast stores of wisdom and insight to impart, gleaned from years helping many kiddos.  This book definitely changed my perceptions of how these kiddos think...has helped me to become a stronger parent, to second-guess myself less, to reinforce the structure that's holding our little family together right now.  I'll be curious to see what any of the rest of you think of this book.   

"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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One tiny step at a time...

« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2012, 06:58:14 AM »

I'm going to be honest with you,

I don't think I could read it (at least not now).  The recap about nearly killing her family-- heart isn't strong enough to read that and get anything else out of the book I don't think. I think I'd read that and everything else would go out the window, and I'd be worse off parenting than I am now.

I realize that's not how the book is written, I just think with my touchy PTSD I couldn't face that currently.  Maybe if things become less hectic around here.

I'm glad you found it useful however!!  And thanks for sharing, I am storing it away for a future read, when I'm no longer in the trenches or for some reason don't have the same triggers I do now.  I don't need to be triggered by something outside my house/family...when I have so much inside it already doing so.

Protecting the mama.  Smiley

Insanity is hereditary--you get it from your kids!

2 Bio sons 7 & 9-sweetpeas
DN17- ADHD, RAD, Bipolar and possibly FAE
SS21-sweetpea (ok, at HKU) with some attachment issues due to divorce--currently enrolled in HKU
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