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A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine. September's Theme: "Relationships"
Volume 4 Issue 6 ISSN# 1708-3265
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A Cry for Light
Janet Alston Jackson

A Cry for Light by Janet Alston Jackson is a candid story of a mother raising her child who has Reactive Attachment Disorder. A personal account of this nature is long overdue.

I've spent years researching and reading about Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Late one evening while trying to find a connection between Buddhist parenting and RAD I came across a very positive mention of Janet Alston Jackson's book, from a Buddhist monk named Thich Nhat Hanh, who I consider one of my most inspirational Buddhist teachers. This discovery led me to Janet's not yet released book "A Cry for Light." Gregory C. Keck's (founder and director of The Attachment and Bonding Center of Ohio) review of her book also inspired me to find this book. I posted on a forum that I had discovered this book and could not wait to read it. Voila! Aleesha to the rescue, she was able to get me an advance copy. I am very grateful for her efforts.

I read the book quickly and re-read it one more time to be sure I had not missed anything. Even though it was not written from a Buddhist perspective, what I did get was an awesome, raw, and very truthful story of a parent who was willing to completely share her journey in raising her son Devon who has RAD. This was something new! Many of the books I have read come from the therapist's point of view, dealing with techniques and background information about the disorder. Janet was providing a window into the future. What possibilities lay ahead on this tumultuous journey?

At some point in Janet's journey she meets a Buddhist monk named Pisit, who helped her learn the practice of mindfulness. It's all too easy to attach to the ideal of your child being healed, peaceful, happy, thriving, and well-adjusted. It is necessary to let go of this attachment in order to remove the pressure and stresses which get in the way of your child's ability to heal. Janet's book is a constant reminder of this message. This is such a long and complicated process.

Janet refers often to the term "Living in the Moment" and how it helped her separate Devon's pain from herself, accepting what the moment brings which makes finding a solution easier. Not thinking too far ahead, trying to predict the impossible and planning for it is stopped by remembering "Living in the Moment" are important strategies in raising a hurt child. I have a quote which I use as a mantra sometimes; Love in the past is only a memory. Love in the future is a fantasy. Only here and now can we truly love ~ the Buddha.

Janet has learned from her friend Pisit that being mindful is something we can do in any circumstance. Feeling out of control when a RAD child is trying to take control is often frightening and overwhelming. Being mindful and conscious of yourself, your emotions, your reactions not only help you, but it helps the child. Janet learns from Pisit that "you will have to lead the mind like an unruly child back to observe your thoughts. Sometimes you have to take the mind back many times. Be gentle with yourself. Have compassion. Remember what people say and do is not important; it's your reaction to them. That should be your only focus". Pisit's words became mantras for Janet, helping her along the way. This wise advice is something all parents who are raising a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder can use.

When Janet wrote in her book "The Miracle of Mindfulness" by Thich Nhat Hanh, "This book saved my life", I thought I can relate on so many levels with Janet's experience. I'm not sure how you parent a RAD child without Buddhism as the foundation. Janet's ability to incorporate Buddhist practice into her life while maintaining her other spiritual practices shows her compassionate nature, leaving me to believe she would do anything to help Devon.

I highly recommend all parents who are considering adopting a hurt child read "A Cry for Light". Her journey is an inspiration as much as it is a wake up call for families who may be attempting to take on something which will greatly alter their lives forever. Janet Alston Jackson's honesty in recounting her story will prepare families for the reality, the patience and energy involved in raising a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder.

It is my hope that Janet's story and other's like hers will make their way into the libraries and resource files of social workers, therapists, foster parents and family members who work to help bring peace to the child with RAD. Thank you Janet for sharing your honest experience. Your story will help many others learn to help children with Reactive Attachment Disorder.

Reviewed by
Grace Tran

Editor's Note: Although this book is available now, it wasn't when Grace began her journey into it. Please click here to get a copy for yourself.

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