Parenting Pandora

"You opened your arms and accepted the puzzle that is your child. It's a puzzle made of up of 1000 pieces. The picture on the box does not match what is inside. There are missing pieces, but also the pieces of a dozen other puzzles mixed in. It is impossible to put the whole puzzle together as it was new. Some pieces will never be found".
Quote from Parenting Pandora, chapter titled "It's Not Your  Fault".
Paperback or Kindle!

Like most parents, when I realized things were not okay with Genea I sought answers. Desperate for anything that might help her,  I searched online for books and current research. I probably have 40 books at this point and certainly have read over 1000 studies. Of the little I could find, some was helpful but often did not work for us. It was frustrating to read book after book that spoke of vague, abstract concepts that might help in the long term.  Real suggestions and usable techniques were rare. What I needed was something to DO, in the moment, mid meltdown, and ASAP.

SO MUCH did not make sense and I became obsessed with figuring out the "why" behind the unrelenting chaos.

Epic failure after epic failure, a few things did help and that's what I've written into this mini-book. Quick and to the point, parents of children with RAD don't have the luxury of a lengthy read! I've tried to address why our kids act as they do, why typical parenting does not work, what to do in the long term and ways to immediately handle common issues.

 My main premise is that kids with Reactive Attachment Disorder (or whichever psychiatric diagnosis the child has) compulsively control their anxiety by forcing the people around them to act predictably.

"Child, you sucked the nothing out of me six months ago!"

I cover relentless attention seeking, and why negative attention is not negative to the child with Reactive Attachment Disorder. Why that fake charming behavior in public is actually a good thing. I suggest using inconsistency to change unwanted behavior and talk about why standard parenting techniques do not work when your child has RAD. Here is an example:

Love and Logic does not work because "a child with RAD has not developed a system of logic that responds to loving guidance. Her logic developed in response to trauma".

(consider the booklet as a gift for teachers, therapists, family or friends!)

Parenting Pandora is self published. Reading through it again, that fact stands out even more than it did originally. Admittedly it is a little janky. I tried to be clear and not wander off on tangents and such, but some of it reads very 'amateur'. 

The beauty of self publishing is there was no editor to filter my *ahem* sense of humor. Here's my favorite "The child is told to wipe down the kitchen table after lunch. She does, and it's an excellent job on all but one conspicuous corner. I call that the "F-you spot". Heh heh, still makes me laugh.

The unfortunate side is there was no editor to say, this is stupid and makes no sense!
(I did recruit a lovely friend to give it a look. Hi Tia! She's why it's not super awful).

Leave a comment or share !


  1. Just read your book. THANK YOU!!!

  2. THANK YOU for leaving this comment! I get so excited to hear from people who have read it I make my whole family come and look lol!
    So, this is awkward for me, I suck at self promotion. Would you be willing to leave a review on amazon? It would help a ton and I would sooooo appreciate it!
    Thanks again!

  3. Thank you for writing this! I am a therapist for kids, and have several clients with RAD. They often feel that no one understands them and it's a real struggle. Your book sums up so well what it's like to have a kid with RAD, and I appreciate the books and websites you suggested and am going to do more studying so that I can help these families more. Thank you for speaking up!!

  4. Thank you SO MUCH! It makes me so happy to read this. It IS a struggle, to try to explain things to people who don't understand.
    You are an awesome therapist to be researching ways to help your kids!

  5. I have just read your book as I am planning to become a foster carer. Out of the many I have read so far, your has been the most insightful, candid and helpful read. Thank you.

  6. We, too, are adopting a child with RAD. He has lived with us for 6 months and I just found out what RAD is and as I read about it feel like the descriptions are of us. Your book is so helpful and reassuring we can do it. Just hearing another mom say it's so crazy and makes no sense helps. Thank you & look forward to exploring the other resources you shared & your blog.

    My main computer is ill, and has been since early this year. I had it sort of auto set to do.... things... I dunno, now I can't find my info and I am maxed out on passwords I can remember!
    ANYWAY, thank you SO MUCH for the lovely comments! Sorry it took so long to respond!

  8. Dear Essie, Thank you so much for writing this book. I am a Child and Youth Worker in Ontario, Canada. A co-worker discovered your book and we have all passed it around and feel like you have given us some GREAT TOOLS and insights that we can use with all of the youth in care that we encounter with RAD. I have to say that your disclaimer made us all laugh when you say that you are not a professional in social work. You are amazingly accurate with your insights and have an impressive work resume. You are highly skilled in my books! Please know that when you educate a direct care worker, you change kids lives. You are awesome!!- Sarah T

  9. This is so informative stuff i have got so much good things on your blog thanks for sharing such a good stuff.check my link to get more.

  10. Essie, I just read your book right through. Thank you for writing it as you, with humour (Bourne out of desperation I imagine). As I read your book, I pictured the beautiful but incredibly difficult children that live with the foster carers I support.I picked bits out for them and can't wait to share your wisdom with them. I'll definitely read your blog, and look forward to learning more X


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