Shortly after Rhonda and Kevin brought their newborn son, Hunter, home from the hospital, he had a bad reaction to his formula and stopped breathing. After their baby was rushed by ambulance to an emergency room, he spent about a week in an intensive care unit.
Rhonda and Kevin visited daily, often staying until visiting hours were over. It was several weeks before the doctors could find formula that Hunter could accept.
That event was the beginning of Hunter’s anger, hyperactivity, and defiant behavior.
Rhonda initially denied that there were any traumatic issues before, during, or after Hunter’s birth. She thought she and her baby bonded well because Hunter was so sweet when he wasn’t angry or spinning out of control behaviorally.
By the time Hunter was seven, he was being treated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). He’d been violent toward Rhonda to the point of causing injury to her, and one time almost broke the glass door on the school bus.
One day, Rhonda talked with a counselor who explained attachment issues and how children with these issues behave.
“That’s exactly what my child does,” Rhonda said. “That sounds exactly like Hunter.”
Unbeknownst to his parents, Hunter’s normal attachment process to his mother was interrupted shortly after he got home from the hospital. Rhonda and Kevin worked with the therapist to help Hunter with his attachment issues and heal his brain using therapeutic parenting principles.
“The hardest thing for me in all this,” Rhonda told the counselor, “was not learning how to parent him out of this. It was getting through the guilt I felt. Because I thought it was my fault—that I was a bad parent for not seeing this problem sooner.”
This couple’s story is a good reminder that the attachment between baby and parent can be disrupted by no fault whatsoever on the part of the parents. With that in mind, it’s crucial to realize that positive attachment between parent and child is the foundation for raising kids who can thrive. Suicide prevention actually begins when a child is born.