As I am working hard to coordinate a Christmas Giving Program for our community, I am being reminded over and over again the importance of meeting people where they are…emotionally.
Because our kids are survivors, we often don’t experience their true emotion.
We often experience the techniques they’ve come to count on to feel safe!
Don’t be fooled!
Use your head. Be Realistic…
If your child has suffered loss, lived in poverty, been abused or neglected, been abandoned, lost their primary caregiver, or had to fend for themselves in any way, they have been forced to use self–reliant techniques to get this far!
These techniques run from their core! They are part of the wiring of a brain impacted by trauma!
They don’t go away if they “try harder”.
They are not defiant acts!
Sometimes those survival techniques are disguised as over-compliant, self-depriving, perfectionism, and quiet or under the wire personas - be careful not to miss them. Other times they are not hard to miss at all because they are loud and clear, they are controlling and manipulative, they are glaringly present!
Here’s the secret…
Before human beings can trust, participate in healthy relationships, develop self-esteem, learn, etc...
They must feel SAFE…Emotionally and Physically!
Survival techniques our hurt children are forced to acquire and then use help them feel like they are in CONTROL,
and that feeling of control helps them to feel safe!
The behaviors become very troublesome for us. Those are the behaviors that we take personally. Those are the behaviors we dub as purposeful or defiant. They are NOT any of the above. They are simply behaviors that protect our children from feeling vulnerable, out of control and unsafe.
I have HOPE that adoptive and foster parents embrace the knowledge that they can build a consistent, loving relationship based in meeting their child where THEY are no matter what.
I have HOPE that adoptive and foster parents can let the understanding of the behavior be acknowledged as the
true emotion it protects! Then they will be able to more accurately interpret words, body language, choices, and affect.
I have HOPE that all adoptive and foster parents truly understand that with time and intentional parenting they can give their children the ultimate gift---a “place” in the world they can truly feel SAFE because they believe they are WORTHY of it!
My hope is that YOU are that adoptive or foster parent!