Children in care, part 2: The unseen reactions.
This blog carries on from from part 1, the subconscious brain. It is important first for me to impress upon the readers, this blog is about the children, not about canning the carers. There are so many good people who care for children in all sorts of roles, but all the intentions and training in the world do not prepare the carer for the unseen reactions and the stored memories of our precious next generation. These are my personal observations and experience from being a 'child in care', 'a carer', 'working in early childhood education' and now working in community.
Being a child who is cared for by people other than their parents may have long term affects on their subconscious brain. The child might seem happy, join in activities, respond to the kindness and love of care givers but what stories are being stored in the subconscious brain?
"My parents don't want me", "my carers are paid to be nice to me", "if I am good I can go home", "I am a nuisance to everyone", "I must please or I will be sent away", and in the case of multiple carers, "another argument over who wants to get paid to look after me", "I must be really bad". "I am too noisy", I am too happy" "I eat too much" and many more.
This can happen also in cases of custody and parental access when arguments erupt over who is having the child for the weekend, who is having them for Christmas, school holidays etc. Often children are inadvertently used as weapons with little thought for the stories being stored for later life. What is seen as adult conversation over what is best for the child is often interpreted as "I am a nuisance", neither parent wants me", I am the cause of all the arguments".
Care givers must be aware that children want to be in their own homes no matter how bad the situation. All the love and kindness given does not replace "home", familiarity, belonging and understanding the expected. Sadly they may expect to be hit, expect to defend, expect to be hungry, expect to be considered a nuisance", but it is familiar. Packing a bag to go somewhere unknown, where everything is unexpected is frightening, devastating if separated from siblings and the body is in constant alert (or flight and fright).
Sometimes a child has a sense of responsibility, the feeling they should be at home monitoring or "saving the situation. Sometimes the subconscious stories are so powerful they don't believe they deserve kindness, love and peace.
By now I expect many people are saying, some children are better off in care and I agree. Sometimes it is through a parents illness or complete neglect and abuse and this I understand. My point is we need to understand the child more and their long term reaction to being in care. The care givers need so much more understanding in how to lessen the probability of abandonment issues that might arise in a child's adult life. The child needs to be informed, be allowed to ask questions, feel safe to cry, feel safe to be angry, feel safe to be happy. Education not only helps the child understand their situation better, but helps the care giver to understand the importance of their role.
Links to more about the subconscious mind: