I know this can be confusing. I know you did not receive the hours of training we did. I know there is no way for you to know unless we attempt to lovingly explain. So here is my attempt. I'm sorry if it sounds harsh, or mean, or insensitive, or anything other than me trying to help you better understand how to best help our kiddos.
I read a wonderful post a while back from a mom explaining a recent interaction with her own mother about her child. "Oh, I'm her Grandma, I can spoil her if I want" rang out the stereotypical Grandma as she handed the child a lollipop the mother already said "no" to. This scene is so cliche we all recognize it. "What harm can it cause?" is the argument, "A little sugar never hurt anyone". As this mother so articulately explained you just taught this child that mom does not always know best and you do not have to listen to her. There are some rules that adults say that can be broken.
As we prepare for our placements I've been trying to think through ways to help prepare our families. How certain scenarios play out in our unique situation, and this is where things get exponentially more complicated.
1. We entered into a contract with DHS/The State of Oklahoma to act on their behalf in caring for these children.
2. We have rules and guidelines to follow to fulfill that contract.
3. There are teams of experts that help make those rules and guidelines for the safety and confidentiality of the children.
4. For those reasons we are "privy" to information about the child as state contractors that we are not allowed to share with you, no matter how much we want to vent, talk, or help you understand the situation.
5. When we say a rule that may seem silly or strange to you, it may not be ours.
6. That rule may be there for a very specific reason that you are not allowed to know background about.
Example #1: Someone is taking care of the kids for us. We say "hey, don't worry if they keep the door open when they use the restroom, they just do that sometimes."
Now I just left you with a 14 year old, and that may be strange and awkward to you. You may think "this child needs to learn privacy and manners". You decide my "rule" is silly and decide to try to close the door for them. The child comes home and bursts into tears because they were beaten in a bathroom and do not yet feel safe without the door open.
Example #2: We have a 3 and a 5 year old. You come over to watch them for a few hours. "I don't let them have the TV louder than 34 because of the neighbors". You notice the lady downstairs leave and the 3 year old says they can't hear the TV. You decide to bend the rule, the lady did leave after all so it should be fine till they come back. You turn it up to 40. The 3 year old is watching something when it makes a loud crashing noise, he loves trucks! And you hear a scream from the 5 year old in the other room. You race in and they are hiding under the bed crying uncontrollably. You don't know what happened!? You can't get them to stop so you have to call us home. We have to simply tell you we'll take care of it, or make up a lie.
The 3 year old doesn't remember the gun shots. The 5 year old hears any loud noise and they are flooded with the violent memories of daddy threatening mommy. They know they are safe most of the time, but something irrational and reflexive takes over when they hear loud noises. It takes hours to calm them back down and for them to believe they are safe.
Example #3: I told the child "no" to eating a piece of candy. You think I'm being strict and slide one behind my back. "Shhhh, don't tell your mom" you say with a warm smile and a wink. You were completely innocent with the exchange, but that night they tell me they are scared of you. "People who tell me to keep secrets sometimes hurt me".
The child was told by a family member to keep a secret molestation from mom and dad. The child was threatened to keep that secret or they would be hurt.
These kids are coming from a very different background than you are used to. They have gone through trauma that surpasses what most of us can imagine. Trauma that makes up their life story, the story that they alone own, that they alone have the right to tell. They need specific boundaries and freedoms that very smart professionals have been studying for years. We have taken lengthy courses to learn those needs and we have been trained on how to handle certain situations.
Please, please, please. Please trust us when we ask something that may seem strange, or unexplainable. You may ask me why when the child is not present. I will try my best to give you a reason. I may only be able to say I can't, but at least you will know it was a thought out decision and it is probably in the best interest of the child whom you have grown to love.