If your life is over-the-top crazy,
If your adopted or foster child is consistently sabotaging things,
If his or her hard behaviors and words are getting in the way of your whole family's happiness...
it's time to create your child a world that is the size he can really handle. A world in which he can be most SUCCESSFUL!
Most of the time creating a world in which your adopted or foster child can be most successful means making it SMALLER. It can include things like extra-curriculars, chores, camp, boundaries at home and beyond, the kinds of toys or other items they own and other big transitions they do away from you.
One example in our case was when we had given our daughters chores based on their chronological ages and the abilities we “knew” they had.
Our oldest rarely succeeded at accomplishing her chores. The problem was that those chores really caused a lot of issues. Big. Huge. Issues. It was "clear" to us that she "never listened", "didn't care", was "disrespectful on purpose", was "sneaky" and "just thought she could do what she wanted to when she wanted to do it." Remember, this is the way we interpreted everything.
Another example in our case was when we enrolled her in things at church and school that the other kids her age were doing.
She really had a hard time being able to run with other kids her age and not end up either getting hurt or breaking a rule or four!
Many times in situations where she was on her own with other children, she would either be a loner or be bossy and aggressive.
Important relationships were being negatively affected, we were confused and mad because it often felt purposeful, we were asked to pull her out of classes and sports, she was getting injured and putting herself in dangerous situations. It was a nightmare.
Worst of all, her self-esteem was suffering terribly. The more she failed the worse things got – a vicious circle of her old beliefs and deficits was set in motion!
It was time to do it differently!
I remember distinctly the day I really fully embraced this new more intentional way to parent my daughter. The day I really took the risk and met her where she was.
She had been invited to an overnight girl birthday party. She said she wanted to attend. However, behavior kicked in big time! She sabotaged going to the event in any way she could.
It finally hit me…this is too big for her.
I turned it over and over in my mind. It was an event that any Mom would want for her daughter to be a part of. It was an event that was appropriate for her chronological age. “All” of the girls in our group of friends were going. But I really needed to meet my daughter right where SHE was at.
With all of this going on in my mind, I decided to follow my gut.
I called her to our porch and as gently, but confidently, as I could I explained that she was not going to go to the party. I told her that it was my job to keep her safe and healthy and that this party would not be either of those things for her.
I braced myself for her reply.
She looked at me and asked me to repeat what I had said. I repeated it word for word. Her hands released their tight hold they had had on the rail. Then she breathed a huge sigh of relief! Her shoulders dropped inches in relaxation. Her face softened. Then she asked if she could go and play.
The behaviors that had kicked up before the party went back to a low rumble - which was our status quo. It was over. The spin really slowed! The party was too big for her.
I finally got it! I didn’t put her into a situation in which she couldn’t be successful. This was a HUGE shift for us.
It's so important to pull your adopted or foster child’s world into the size in which he can not only handle, but also be successful. Changing the size of your child's world is REALLY about meeting him where he's at. And it almost always means doing it differently than most other families.
But the benefits far outweigh the challenges of doing it differently...making this kind of intentional choice creates healing across the board!
I think there are a couple rules of thumb to follow when deciding how big is too big:
There's nothing easy about this concept; however, it makes all of the difference in creating the connection that ultimately is the foundation for all other relationships...the really important stuff usually takes work!
You can do this and I'm right here to cheer you on and show you that it works!
P.S. If you'd like specific strategies or to build your action plan I'd be honored to teach you how in my Coaching Group.
Just click this link to join me.
I don't know about you, but I just got tired of the yelling and arguing - especially when it came out of MY mouth!
Here's the thing...parenting a child who doesn't seem to listen, who always seems to be trying to be in control and who usually does the opposite of what you ask is SO frustrating. I so get it.
I remember times when my daughter would argue with me about anything and everything. How I walked. What color the sky was. You know...AN.Y.THING!
Sometimes I could keep it together, but WAY too many times I lost it. I yelled - she yelled, it was a yelling fest.
And the big reality was...I felt like CRAP afterwards. This was NOT the kind of Mom I wanted to be. It was NOT the kind of person I wanted to be. Something had to change!
Here's the thing though, when it came right down to it I was yelling because nothing was working. No matter what I did or said the wedge between us continued to grow. The parenting strategies that I had used with my sons was not working now. I felt overwhelmed, exhausted and NOT like the good Mom I wanted to be.
I needed try something different.
I was sick of feeling stuck in a very negative cycle. I found myself wondering if she really wanted the fight and yelling any more than I did-who would choose that? Lots of times she seemed very "in control" of her choices, she seemed sure, and she seemed tough. But why would anyone choose to live like that day after day. Maybe she just didn't know how to do it any differently. I thought...could it be true?
And then I decided to test it.
I turned it around and met her where she was at by "naming" in my own head the backtalk, lying, stealing, yelling, and arguing as deficit. I began to realize she didn't have any other tools.
The further we went more clear the deficits became. She wasn't sure of herself at all and, as a matter of fact, she was scared. Scared to say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, and scared it was all going to end at any moment.
I also began to realize that as I met her where she was at things began to calm.
Yelling and arguing were happening less and less. I became more sure of myself as her Mom. Renewed energy followed and I finally had real clarity about how to help my daughters heal.
I found the keys to my Peaceful Kingdom. I found the keys to quieting the yelling and to ending the arguing.
What a wonderful shift for my whole family. What a wonderful relief to my own heart. Back to my old self!
Look, I know that I am not the only one that has had this struggle. As a matter of fact, every day I talk to Moms from all over the world who feel like crap because they just lost it. If this is you, don't stay there...YOU need to try something different too!
I want to teach you how to meet your child right where he's at. I'd like to personally invite you to jump into my Intentional Parent Coaching Group so that I can share the strategies and tools that will help you get there. Things can be so much more doable!
Just click this link to get you started building your Peaceful Kingdom.
See you in Group!
I am SO excited to tell you about one of the things coming up for next month. November is National Adoption Month and it's time to celebrate!
I have heard so many wonderful stories over the years - they are inspiring and filled with hope and I think it would be great to spread a little of that hope around.
There is one thing I REALLY NEED YOUR HELP WITH - I'd like to celebrate by sharing at least one adoption story every day on my Facebook Page next month and I'd LOVE To Share YOURS.
Oh and by the way, we're not going to stop at "National" Adoption Month - we're going to celebrate WORLD Adoption Month and we're going to do that with stories from around the world! YOUR Stories from wherever you are!
Here's how you can help...
1. Please share your story via an email or an mp4 video.
2. Go ahead and change the names to protect the anonymity of your family.
3. Include a picture or not - either way is going to be great. As a matter of fact, you could send one of those pictures that are of the family walking away or put your hands all in like a team. However you want your family shared.
Finally...just send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org asap! (We will let you know what day it will appear on my Facebook Page)
This is going to be GREAT! I can't wait to see them all.
Yes the journey can be bumpy, but there is always something to celebrate.
Thanks so much for you help!
You decided to become parents together. You decided to adopt or foster together. You started this journey as a team - a united front!
Then the daily struggles began and being a parent wasn’t feeling like you though it would. The tools you had weren't working. The questioning of your ability to be parents played over and over in your mind. Feeling alone and hopeless a lot of the time becomes overwhelming and too common.
The next thing you know you are blaming and criticizing each other. One partner often says they don’t even know the other anymore, while others report that their spouse just doesn’t get it.
Parenting a hurt child often adds a lot of stress to a marriage and many times can be the demise! You have got to stick together!
Here are 5 quick ways to ensure you are seen and felt as a safe United Front:
1. Greet each other first.
2. Your Spouse hasn’t changed…they are fighting an important, but incredibly difficult battle.
Know that many times hurt kids have a different relationship with every adult in their life. Studies are showing more and more that the adoptive or foster Primary Attachment Figure gets more of the behavioral and emotional brunt of the challenge.
3. In order to get it, you have to Intentionally Parent.
Have a check in system. One parent checks in with the other before returning home to get the feel for what is going on at the moment. Start preparing to connect with the other adult so as not to allow Triangulation to happen.
4. Move your own “stuff” so that you are not adding to the spin!
Have expectations your child can actually meet so that they can succeed. You have to do it differently.
5. Always remember to look at your “whole” child!
Don’t get caught in only “seeing” the behavior right in front of you.
Remember…together you can create a safe and consistent environment for your child. Together you can commit to No MATTER WHAT and for as long as it takes! Together you can help your child heal!
INTENTIONALLY CHOOSE, TOGETHER!
P.S. - If you'd like more strategies to becoming and staying a United Front, join me in the Intentional Parent Coaching Group. You'll both be equipped and supported like never before.