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I'm a single parent. I adopted my son after he turned 18. He's 28 now. I am just discovering childhood trauma. I thought he had ADHD. He has an ACEs score of 9. And not much in the way of resilience. But very intellectual. I believe he shows signs of developmental trauma, complex ptsd, and an avoidant coping mechanism. He moved back home with me 1 1/2 years ago after entering a methadone program for heroin addiction. He's seeing a substance abuse counselor, but she is not trauma informed. She hadn't heard the term ACEs, and told my son she thought I am codependent. My son is not receptive to the idea that his 18 years of neglect and abuse, and his maladaptive coping mechanisms, are the cause of his struggles. He has basic struggles with ADLs, is easily overwhelmed and frustrated.

Are there articles, books, resources for parenting an adult child of trauma? How do you get them to transition to adulthood? How far do you push him/her? How involved is too involved? What do healthy boundaries in this situation look like? How do you accomplish that without communicating abandonment to them? Any resources would be appreciated. 

Last edited by Kevin Engles
Original Post

I would recommend a course of treatment for him using Thought Field Therapy. This is the first of the Energy Psychology methods, discovered in the '70's and is effective for trauma, anxiety, depression and related emotional states common in trauma victims.  In addition, I would seek out Family Constellation healings.  I have seen long-term and fast (during or just after the sessions) improvements using these methods.  I do not recommend variations on these, but the original application of them.  Look up: for TFT and cheryl Walker or Gary Stuart for the constellation work. Practitioners such as Joanne Callahann, Suzanne Connolly would be great.

Kevin, what a courageous and loving journey you describe (both you and your son). Seeing your (adult) child in pain and not being able to do anything about it is excruciating. 

The fact that your son knows that you are there for him is probably most helpful and hopeful thing you can bring to his life. But you sound like you are like me, parenting my adult child, and many parents like us - you need resources. 

Firstly, what about you? Do you have things in place to keep yourself together? Then, as far as your son is concerned, sounds like he needs help with emotional regulation. That's good news. Those are skills people can learn. He probably already has a few things that work but maybe not the awareness of when his body is going into survival mode. It helps to understand the physiology. Then he will know that he's not 'crazy' or 'defective' or any of the other labels people acquire and even give themselves. 

Please feel free to private message me if you'd like to continue the conversation. And in the meantime, my hat is off to you: What a beautiful, determinedly loving and caring person you are and how much you must be hurting to see this young man struggle. 


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