Empathy or Sympathy – Which Causes a Fight?

Empathy or Sympathy:


        Hi all. I am Laurie and I want to help parents. Mainly parents with children who have behavioral problems, and foster and adoption issues. This is the basis of this blog. Please check out some posts.

My last post was about the difference between an owner and a steward. Along with the difference between being in control and being controlling. Of course I am referring to parenting and the position we are to take in our homes. Check out my last post.

Today I am talking about the difference between empathy and sympathy and which one causes a fight. In this post, empathy and sympathy are in reference to foster and adoption children. Understanding the difference will sometimes help create the right kind of fight.

Empathy and Sympathy Definitions:

  • Empathy = the ability to identify with or understand the perspective, experiences, or motivations of another individual and to comprehend and share another individual’s emotional state.
  • Sympathy = a feeling of pity or sorrow for the distress of another, commiseration.


When relating to a foster or adopted child it is important to always use empathy instead of sympathy because of the difference in the two definitions above. Empathy gives the ability to comprehend and share your child’s feelings. It’s important to identifying and understand where they are at and how they feel.

Your children need to know you are looking at their perspective, experiences and motivation as you walk with them through the events they are facing. But please stay in a state of empathy so they will not emotionally manipulate you. Don’t let them draw you into enabling them from being responsible for their wrong behaviors. We’re not to be their enablers.


        Sympathy on the other hand draws us into their self-pity state which is not good for you or your child. To commiserate with anyone I’ve come to understand is wrong. Each person is to have their own feelings and we are to have our own. When we cross this line, we get into trouble. We are to identify and share with understanding but not take on the feelings of our children or anyone else.

If your child is RAD they intend to emotionally manipulate others. They live in self-pity and sorrow and want others to commiserate with them. Wrong! Please don’t do this because it keeps them in a place of brokenness and teaches them to get what they need in the wrong way.

When they emotionally manipulate, it gives them power to control anyone who is sympathizing with them. They learn to live life through manipulation which isn’t productive or healthy. It will be counterproductive on all levels of their life.

Which Causes a Fight?

        I have to say it is empathy that causes a fight inside our children. We want this to happen because they need to be mad their self-pity and sorrow doesn’t emotionally manipulate. They can’t continue to emotionally manipulate if they are to mature and succeed. Then maybe they will stop and choose to be responsible for their own behaviors and emotions.

When the fight that is raging inside of them comes out because you’re using empathy instead of sympathy – don’t engage the fight. Let them engage their own fight so they have to deal with their own stuff. This is the goal because no one gets healed when someone else takes responsibility. They have to engage, take responsibility and feel their own feelings for themselves.


I’ll be here next week. Blessings!! Until then…


Adoption Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and Control:

Control and Stewardship:


Greetings everyone! I am glad to see there are more and more views to this blog. I want to connect to as many adoptive and foster parents as I can. Please check out some of my other posts.

My last post was about the delicate balance between biological and adopted children in a family. It takes discernment to meet the needs of all the children in a household. Please take a look at my last post.

Today I am talking on the topic of control. Control can be a tricky avenue because parents are to have control of the household. But how does that work when no one likes a controlling person?

Two Thoughts about Control:

  1. Owner vs. steward
  2. Controlling vs. Control

Owners vs. Stewards:

        I wrote a post which talked about the difference between ownership and stewardship. I discussed how God owns everything in the world including all the gold and silver of the earth. This is understandable because He created it.

So, if He owns everything, then He owns you, me and our children. Yet, He has given everyone a free will to make their own decisions. He also owns the animals of the earth and yet some are free to roam as they please.

If God owns us and our children, we can ask the Lord to move on behalf of our children if they are doing something wrong. I respond to God by saying something like: Lord, your child (child’s name) is misbehaving by doing ______. You own her/him. What are you going to do about it? Then turn the child over to Him. It is God’s power that changes a person from within – not ours. We need His power to change our adopted RAD children because they think they are in charge and know everything.

We are to steward our children. This means God owns them and we are to teach, lead and protect them. But sometimes, we need to allow them to learn the life lessons they should learn while they are still in our home. This takes surrendering to God’s plan to teach life lessons which may be hard. This allows them to learn about life while they are home and have a soft place to land.

When they are out on their own – life isn’t so soft. Therefore, we are given the awesome task of stewarding the children we have been given while allowing God to lovingly teaching them. Trusting God to be the owner helps us to be at peace and our children to come into maturity.

 Controlling vs. Control:

        If God is the owner of everything then He is in control. But, as I said in the above paragraph God gives us a free will to make our own decisions. Therefore, we have choices and are free to follow our own decision making process. This gives us some control in our lives and shows God to be in control but not controlling.

Now, life is always better if we include God in the decision making process. But, if we don’t, we are still allowed to decide as we please. The decisions we make with God’s involvement usually end up bringing blessing to our lives. If we don’t – the opposite is usually true. So, including God is the optimal way of living our lives while still being allowed to have choices.

Choices and Our Adopted RAD children:

God is a good example of parenting by giving us control by choice options and we should do the same for our adopted, foster or biological children. This is being in control without being controlling. I know I like to have choices and don’t want to be controlled.

Our children should have some control without allowing them to control us. It is very common for adopted RAD children to be amoral and controlling. They buck at every controlling decision that is made on their behalf.

So, choices are an adoptive parent’s friend. Give choices as much as possible. God does it and we like it when He does. Our adopted, foster and biological children like it too.


        Giving choices doesn’t mean we are not in charge as parents. We do need to lead our children. Including God in the process helps things go better. We are to love, protect and prepare our children to go out into society to be productive citizens. Giving choices help them to learn to make the choices that will be productive in their lives producing maturity.

Thanks for listening. I hope you have a great week. I’ll be back here next time….

The Delicate Balance Between Adopted and Biological Children:

Adopted and Biological Children:



        It is my honor to write this blog. I want to help foster and adoptive parents and parents of children with behavioral problems in any way I can. This is what I mainly write about.

Please take a look at my last post. It is about inner healing for parents. When the adults heal from their emotional wounds then they can help their children heal too.

I have had the honor of parenting biological and adopted children. I’m sure there are many out there in the same scenario. To meet all the needs of the children we have been given can sometimes be a very difficult balance. Especially when there are both biological and adoptive children in a family.


Biological Children:

My husband and I purposely adopted children who were younger than our biological children. We wanted to make sure our biological children were as safe as our adopted children would be. Our biological children needed to be old enough to communicate to us if an adopted child would act out aggressively towards them.

Many adopted children can have an assortment of behaviors which aren’t appropriate and are abusive. Biological children need to be safe and protected. It is not a biological child’s final decision to have adopted children as their siblings. The final decision rests on the parents. It certainly wouldn’t be a biological child’s decision to be abused by their adopted siblings.

Even if the biological children are a few years older, an aggressive younger child can act out towards them and this can be a problem. I have heard other families in this situation say their biological children eventually begged for the adopted children to be sent back. This is usually after the biological children received extended times of aggressive behaviors from the adopted children.

Adopted Children:

        It is a delicate balance to blend an adoptive family together. Usually if the adopted child has bonded to a care giver and doesn’t have any other disorders with aggressive tendencies, the blending happens relatively painlessly. Therefore, bonding in the family happen as it should.

If the adopted child has a disorder such as fetal alcohol, RAD, or ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder) then the blending and bonding will be much more difficult. Aggressive behaviors can manifest rather intensively with these disorders and the biological child may need protection.

On the other side of the coin is the fact that orphaned children need homes. In your decision making process, ask yourself the right questions.

Such as:

  1. How much older should my biological child be than my oldest adopted child? Our biological child was four and a half years older than our oldest adopted child and there was still aggression and abusiveness from the adopted child.
  2. Do I want to put my biological children through the emotional and physical difficulties of adoption?
  3. Can my biological child handle this change and come out on the other side mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically safe and a better person? This decision isn’t only the parent’s experience – it is everyone’s.
  4. Do I as the parent have the ability to see that everyone is successful in the adoption experience?
  5. Do I have the ability to help all my children talk through their feelings? If I don’t, am I willing to get help if we need it?
  6. How will I handle the abusiveness, aggressive symptoms or disorders towards anyone in our family?
  7. Am I living in the delusion that everyone will just love each other and if I just love longer and harder all will be ok? Of course love concurs all! This is deceptive thinking. Too many adoptive parents just want to try harder or don’t think they need help. Therefore, too many adopted children don’t get timely help.

Get Help:

Please don’t fall into category number seven above. RAD adopted children won’t accept love or bonding so therefore you will need help from someone. Bonding is so important if your adopted child is to grow and mature the way they should.


        Ask yourself the questions above if you’re considering adoption. Get help if you have adopted and find yourself in an aggressive or abusive situation. It is not too late to get help.

Thanks for listening. I’ll be here again next week. Until then…

Authority to Maintain a Protective Cover for Our Adopted Children:

Maintaining a Protective Cover:



In this paragraph I always introduce myself and encourage adoptive and foster parents to read some of my posts. In addition, I want to emphasize connection and my desire to get to know my reader. So, please comment on any of my posts so we can connect.

Please have a look at my last post. It is about treating Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) before a crisis arises. If an adopted child has RAD a crisis will eventually arise. It’s important for you to get the help your child needs before their behavioral issues flare. Please find help from someone who understands RAD.

Today I’m going to talk about a subject that is near and dear to my heart. Mainly because I am a life coach. I love what I do. Please read further to understand what I’m communicating.


Adoptive Parent Wounds:

        Adoptive and foster parents can experience many avenues of wounding from an adopted child. If the child has Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) their need to inflict wounds can be intense. The help for inflicted wounds is emotional healing.

I have written on this subject in other posts promoting the emotional healing the Trinity provides. This healing is so needed because our adopted children know full well how to inflict the pain that causes emotional wounding. But if you are healed and their wounding doesn’t go into your soul – your RAD child would lose the avenue of causing additional emotional wounding. This is to your benefit.

Emotional wounds from anyone’s childhood lay negative foundation wounds in the soul. If our adopted children touch the same wounded spots it causes the wounds to go deeper and spread wider. It is important to recognize where the first wounding came from so the soul can be healed from the beginning. This assures full and lasting healing and prevents any further infliction from penetrating the soul.


Authority to Help Our Foster and Adopted Children Heal:

        In our society we have many structures set up which have authority. Take for example our Government. Each person in the Government had a process of training, and college, etc. Then they were voted in and set in place.

Fathers and mothers have a different process of obtaining authority. The parental authority I’m talking about is an emotional healing authority. We gain this through our own emotional healing process.

Our children need us to achieve our own emotional healing. When we emotionally heal, this gives us authority to help our children heal in the same or similar areas. As we become more and more healed we also gain the authority to maintain a healing atmosphere in our homes. This then enhances healing opportunities for our children.

Our children don’t have the ability to accept healing from someone who has some of the same wounds. If our adopted children somehow heal and we don’t – how does that help? We will be stuck and they won’t have the support system in place to enhance their further healing. We as parents need to take care of our own emotional wounds first so we can help our children do the same.



        How is this done? If you can’t or don’t know how to help yourself or your children then I am a life coach. I would love to help. I can be reached at Laurie@getrealliving.com We can set up an appointment.

If you don’t want my help then please get help from a trusted counselor, doctor or therapist who understands RAD. The important thing is to start the process of emotional healing for all concerned. Life on the other side healing is so good.

I’ll be here again next week. Hope your week is good!! Until then…

Treat Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) Before Crisis Hits:

Before Crisis Hits:



        Laurie here again with another post for foster and adoptive parents. Some of my posts also pertain to children with behavioral problems. If you are in these situation please check out my other posts.

My last post was about trauma that changes the brain. I suggest learning about the brain of adopted children. Please have a look at my last post.

Today I am going to talk about treating adoption RAD before a crisis happens. If you are going to foster or adopt and don’t know what RAD is, I would suggest reading up on the subject. Please read this post further to understand what I mean.


Treating RAD Soon Enough:

Two of the most grievous issues connected to adoption are:

  1. Not understanding RAD
  2. Not treating RAD in their preschool or elementary school years

My husband and I made this mistake. I would hate for you to do the same. Studies have shown if RAD is treated young – the odds of recovery are substantially high. Waiting until their teen years or when a crisis arises is difficult because by then they are set in their ways. Set ways or habits are hard to change. RAD habits are especially hard to change.

Many times by the teen years their RAD symptoms are so ingrained into their behavior they believe everyone acts like they do. They don’t think anything is wrong and become amoral in their behavior, attitudes and choices. This causes such chaos in the adoptive family.


Have Your Child Assessed:

        It would never hurt to get your adopted child assessed by a professional. Go to a professional with in-depth knowledge of RAD. There are many disorders which have similar symptoms as RAD. A Professional with the appropriate knowledge of RAD will be able to help you and your child. Finding the best process to navigate through all the issues is the goal.


Get Help Before A Crisis:

        If your child has RAD and you don’t know it then RAD usually leads the adopted child into some kind of crisis. Speaking from experience – it is no fun. Both of our adopted children ran into crisis before we got them some help. We weren’t properly educated about RAD.

I have confessed in previous posts I thought I could love my adopted children out of their problems. If I would try harder and was the most patient mother – they would come through alright. Well, was I wrong!! RAD doesn’t just heal when someone tries to love them. It takes help and hard work. Adopted RAD children refuse both receiving and giving love and any kind of relationship bonding.



If you have adopted and your children are young – please get them assessed to make sure they are bonding to you and your husband. If they are pre-teen or older don’t waste any time. Go to a RAD professional who has experience and get started on the healing process. Do this before a crisis arises that puts your child or you as a family in any danger. Many RAD children feel they are invincible and don’t discern danger. This is a set up for a crisis.



Wendy and I work with RAD children and their parents. We are seeing healing and progress in both the children and their parents. We love what we do.

If you have any questions or need help in what I have said in this post, please leave a comment in the comment section. I would love to converse further on this subject. I can be reached at Laurie@getrealliving.com

I will have another post next week. Blessings to you and your family. Until next time…

Trauma Changes the Brain of an Adopted Child:

Trauma Changes the Brain:



I am Laurie and the creator of this blog. I write because I felt alone and hopeless when my husband and I were going through the worst of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) symptoms in our adopted children. It is my desire to encourage foster and adoptive parents who are going through the same or similar things in your families.

My last post was about adoption support group fun. Every parent faced with RAD needs the release laughing and relationship connection brings. This happens in an adoption parental support group. Please take a moment to read my last post.

Today I am going to talk about the effects of trauma on the brain. It is a daunting topic to talk about. But a necessary one to know about.



        A trauma victim learns lies about life when trauma happens. They can also have what I call distorted life glasses they see life through. When healing starts they have to undo the learned lies and take off the distorted glassed to receive the truth and healing.

They also can develop Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) which I call a shattered heart. Basically their heart (soul) is broken into mini personalities (pieces). It takes true patience and knowhow to help them put their heart (soul) back together again.


What Does This Have To Do With The Brain?

        My definition of the heart (soul) is a person’s mind, will and emotions. Since a person’s emotions are stored in the brain then the brain is definitely changed when trauma occurs. Through trauma a person usually never thinks the same way again without help.

The reason an adopted child becomes RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) is because of trauma. When a child discovers the birth mom went missing – the trauma of this realization causes them to refuse to bond to anyone or let anyone bond to them. This changes their brain’s thought processes because now they will view every relationship through the refusal to bond. Their fear is of someone else leaving them too.

They have two parts of their heart in constant conflict. One part pushes everyone away and another part is craving love and relationship. This causes a divided thought process and negative chemicals are produced by the brain. When the brain produces negative chemicals it changes the brain negatively.

These thoughts are what I call fear based thoughts. In RAD adopted children, it is the fear of being hurt again (like when their birth mother gave them away). This holds them in their sickness. Their negative thoughts over time continue to affect their brains in very unhealthy ways.

The opposite of fear based thoughts are what I call faith based thoughts. When we have positive thoughts that are truth based, the brain produces good chemicals and promotes a healthy brain. Healthy brains produce healthy lives.


Healing of Lies and Distorted Glasses:

        Healing is a process with anyone but especially with RAD adopted children. The healing that works is exchanging the lies for the truth and getting the correct life lenses to see through. This happens with the help of the Trinity. They know the truth and have the wisdom to give us 20 20 vision on all life experiences. If you want my help in this healing process I can be reached at Laurie@getrealliving.com



        I would love to talk further on this subject if someone would please leave a comment. The brain is a fascinating organ and healthy thoughts are what we want to promote in our adopted children. If they are RAD they need a great amount of help in this area.

I’ll be here again next week with another topic. Please come and join us. Until then…

Adoption Support Group Fun:

Support Group Fun:



        Hi all! I’m Laurie and am here again today to talk about foster and adoptive subjects. I want foster and adoptive parents to be informed about many issues. That is why I write this blog. Please check out some of my previous posts.

My last post was about Life Coaching a healed DID person. This means their heart is back together again (integrated) and they need to learn to live this way. It takes practical steps of change to make a successful shift into a whole heart lifestyle. Please check this post out.

Today I am going to talk about adoption support group fun for the ladies and men. I don’t like the “same old” style of doing things. So we intentionally mix it up with some fun and change of venue.


Support Group Fun?

        A while ago I wrote a post about getting the adoptive fathers to the support group meetings. Well, most men don’t come to these meetings. They usually watch the children so their wives can come.

Can a support group meeting fulfill the parent’s emotional needs and still be fun? Yes! Last month I had my evening support group meeting with the women and we went out to eat. Always having the meeting in the same place can be tiring (especially for me). I have to have variety or I get restless. I love to change things up a bit to add life and meaning.

Last month one of the ladies in my support group was going through some very rough things. She needed to talk so we found a restaurant that had a quiet corner and enjoyed food, conversation, laughter and new surroundings. We had a good time, and it met her need to unload some very hurtful things that were happening with her adopted child.


Mixing It Up… Here are some examples of what we do or will do to bring variety:

  1. I am thinking I might have an overnight retreat some time where we go somewhere for a night. We’ll have to depend on the husband’s availability to watch the kids but that is good for them too. Then off we will go.
  2. I am planning another dinner at my house next month to specifically invite the husbands again. My husband said he would lead a discussion with the fathers about the husband’s role in adoption situations. I am so proud of my husband!! He is really stepping up to the plate to challenge the men.
  3. I like to plan fun events around the holidays. Last year we had a white elephant gift exchange during our morning support group. It was fun to see who ended up with which gift in the end.


Be the Person Who Plans the Fun:

I’m sure if you think about it you can come up with some fun event to implement into your support group if you have one. If you don’t – find one and be the person planning the fun events. The rest of the group would probably appreciate your input and would like some variety and fun.



        This is one of my shorter posts but it will make up for the longer ones I have posted. Hope you are having a great week! I’ll be here again next week. Until next time…

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