Children Heal in Healthy Families

By Ron Huxley, LMFT

When parents decide to build their family they don’t want to believe that their child may in up with developmental or special needs that require a lot of time, commitment and yes, money. They are dreaming of the perfect family, playing and enjoying warm, cuddly time together. There is nothing wrong with that but not every dream turns out that way. 

Many families choose to build their family through adoption or end up taking care of a relatives child due to many misfortunes and circumstances. Consequently, many children come with a history of trauma and loss. The dream family is still possible but it must be modified and made more realistic. You have to say goodbye to the old dream to allow room for the new one to unfold.

Research and common experiences proves that children can heal in a healthy family. A child needs a secure attachment relationships in order to maximize all the areas of their lives, socially, physically, emotionally, cognitively and spiritually. 

Because many children comes from insecure attachment relationships, they don’t always know what it means to be in a health family. Their special needs may be based on survival in high stress family situations. Their “abnormal behaviors” in a normal family were perfectly “normal” in their abnormal situations before entering the new home. A bit of rehabilitation is necessary to help them make the internal and external adjustments. 

Trauma situations impact the children development. This includes their brain development as well. The child needs to adapt to overwhelming and hostile environments and can create a position of offensive behaviors that don’t want to submit to parental controls. An internal model develops that believes the world and caregivers cannot be trusted. 

Fortunately, the same brain that adapted to stressful circumstances can re-adapt to calm living environments. This happens over time, sometimes quickly and sometimes not so quickly. This is challenging for parents to understand and cope. 

The brain must be re-activated to change. Experience dictates form and function when it comes to brain adaptation. New, positive experiences that happen repeatedly will open up new neuronal brain growth that allows for a feelings safety and security to settle in. Once this happens, parents can begin to enjoy that “dream family” once again. 

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