They are not my “glory stories.” They are the children that I think about at 3:17 a.m. The faces of children that, to the best of my knowledge, I failed to reach. In the middle of the night things I said and did—sometimes with the best of intentions and sometimes from a place of absolute frustration and desperation—replay in my head. What had I done that seemed to completely close a child off to the message of Christ that I desperately wanted to share with them?
Hope and the Sacrament of Confession mercifully keeps me from dwelling on these moments too frequently, but over the years, I continued to wonder if there was anything I could have done to prevent a child from acting out or shutting down when I was instructing them.
Yes, I’ve learned. There were.
A few years ago, my husband and I became licensed foster parents. Between trainings on discipline and the importance of regular visits to the dentist was a lesson I wish I had learned before I ever began to work with children.
I learned how trauma affects the brain.
While I had read the occasional article and attended a few workshops, my understanding of how a child’s experience of trauma affects their behavior remained rudimentary. However, this training included in-depth explanations of the brain and behavior. As I began to work with specific behaviors of children in our own home, I realized how essential this knowledge was within a catechetical environment as well.