Strained Relations

Strained Relations: Help for Struggling Parents of Troubled Teens

Archive for the ‘FASD’ Category

How to Listen to Disclosure of Family Estrangement or Difficulties

Posted by Marcia on March 2, 2011

In my last post I wrote about the process of deciding to share difficult information about one’s family. This post is devoted to receiving this information.

Some of the richest and most heartfelt conversations I have had have been when someone decides to confide in me or when another person listens to my story.

When your family member or friend is having family problems and decides to share these issues with you, it takes a lot of courage, hope and trust that you will not judge, will listen carefully, offer help if asked, will not gossip. This is a confidential and difficult conversation.

Truly listening means that you turn off distractions: this is not a time for watching TV, texting and taking calls. Turn off your phone and give that person your attention. Listen with your head and your heart. Don’t ask a lot of questions, just a few to clarify the situation if needed.

Don’t change the topic unless you’re very uncomfortable hearing this news, and if you are, it’s better to just say you’re uncomfortable.

This conversation is about the other person, not you and your family, unless you’ve experienced a similar situation. Then it’s appropriate to share but limit your input: this person has a lot to say.

Be private and confidential. If the person wanted all of the family and friends to know, there are many ways to alert everyone. It can hurt the person’s feelings if you talk about this to others and damage your own credibility as a confidante.

Don’t judge the people involved. You’re hearing a part of the story and you’re hearing it for the first time. It may be shocking news, but all of it is in the realm of the human condition: the things that happen to people and the decisions we make.

Ask if there is anything you can do to help and provide resources if you have them. One woman called me regarding her son and after listening to her story, I asked if she wanted resources or how I could best help her. She was looking for resources and I gave her a few places to start, indicating there were additional resources in my book and on the blog if she needed them. It’s easy to become overwhelmed when you’re already dealing with a stressful situation. I also keep in touch, ask how things are going, and remember her on Mother’s Day and Christmas, two really hard holidays for her.

When you see or talk with the person in the future, ask about his or her child. I know from personal experience that the concern people show is helpful. It helps me to know that they haven’t forgotten I am a parent, and birthdays and some holidays in particular are really difficult.

Keep in touch and show concern and compassion. That’s the best way you can help anyone.

Posted in adopted kids, apology, behavior of someone using drugs, changing parent's behavior, cope at the holidays, defiant adopted kids, enabler, enabling, estranged, estranged from dad, estranged from father, estranged from parents, family difficulties, FASD, feelings about Father's Day, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, file restraining order against son, forgiveness, juvenile hall, kid on meth, listen to family problems, mental illness, mentally ill son, mentally ill teen, meth addict, missing our son, Mother's Day avoid, Mother's Day dread, Mother's Day sadness, orders of protection, orders of protection against son, out of control teens, Parents and teens, repaired relationship, restraining orders, return adopted child, rewarding good behavior, sadness at the holidays, signs of drug use, step-parent, teen and addiction, teen intervention, teens and consequences, Troubled teens, truancy, truancy and penalties, violence in mentally ill people, worried parents | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Guest Blogger Barbara Neafcy, RN: Everyone is a Victim

Posted by Marcia on April 30, 2010

I exchanged several emails and talked with others regarding the recent return of the adopted boy to Russia.

Barbara Neafcy is an RN who specializes in the care of disabled children. She is a public speaker on FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) and is married to an adult with FASD, Stephen Neafcy, who is author of “The Long Way to Simple” a book that describes what life feels like from the perspective of one who has it. This book is the recipient of the Mom’s Choice Award.

“Reports on CNN indicated the birthmother was an alcoholic and that his behaviors fit the behavioral profile of someone with FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder). I feel strongly that we need to educate our adoptive parents on two levels. If this mom understood what services were available for her new family, this outcome might not have happened. If she had been informed at the outset that her new son had been exposed to alcohol in utero and has abnormal brain development as a result, she may not have signed the papers. If she did sign to become his mom she probably would have taken the commitment very seriously and worked with professionals to improve the child’s chances for a successful life.

This is a tough situation for child placement agencies in Russia. What it would require is honesty on their part toward the parents, and a likely significant reduction in adoptions, which they desperately need for their kids!

94% per cent of individuals with FASD have some form of mental illness. In those who are shuffled around in foster care or orphanage type settings, the incidence would be much greater.

This mom was alone and scared with her experience and reacted in a state of panic. The result is that the worst possible scenario occurred for her son. He was rejected again, as he has felt all of his life. If he has attachment disorder, his resistance to all bonding will grow more rigid and thicken the fortress walls he has built around himself.

There are only victims in this very sad story, but the greatest victim from conception to today is that little boy who has no clue what love can do for him, and hasn’t the healthy neurotransmitters to help his thinking. Society around him is likely to suffer from the anger and bitterness he will carry everywhere with him.

The interesting thing is, FASD is the most prevalent and preventable disability that exists on the planet today. In fact, it is 100% preventable.

For more information about FASD please visit This site contains worlds of information and insights on this troubling disorder, offering hope for those who have it or love someone who does. My husband’s book can be seen at and at”

Posted in adopted kids, defiant adopted kids, FASD, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, out of control teens, return adopted child, Troubled teens, worried parents | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

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