One of the most asked questions I get from adoptive & foster parents is...How long is this going to take? (By this they mean until my child doesn't get triggered, until my child doesn't have melt downs or until my child has positive self esteem. How long is it going to take for my child to heal?)
Well, this is a part of who our adopted and foster children are. It's a part of their story. The truth is that this is really a lifelong deal.
Are they going to have lifelong tantrums? Will the melt downs still be in place when they are 20 years old? No!
Most of our adopted & foster children will be past that, but when other life stressors come up, when they are in new relationships, will they question their worth? Will they question their value and wonder if they are loveable? Probably.
That doesn't mean they are sentenced to gloom and doom. It doesn't mean they can't go to their "second way of thinking", which is what we have helped them form. However, we have to know that what we do now as adoptive and foster parents and how we meet them where they are at right now REALLY matters.
Our daughter has a special day coming up. One which the other 5 have already done. They dress up. They have to be in front of others. Not her cup of tea at all. But she's prepared for it for a year now and wants to do it.
So...the night before the scheduled trip to get a new outfit turns ugly. Very ugly.
It starts with mopey and pouty then moves to nasty comments and walking off. Then comes back for more ugly words and behavior. Wow, really doesn't make a Mom and Dad want to drop a load of cash on said kid.
However, after all these years we know it is important to look "behind" the behavior to meet our kids right where they are at. Turns out there was some real fear about dresses not fitting and a real challenge receiving the goodness of a new outfit and clothes and everything else! (Can I just say that that is NOT what it looked or felt like at all!)
She tried to sabotage it. She tried to manage the situation her way. She tried to be in control. She wanted us to cancel cause the anxiety was too great. But I just informed her we were going because she deserved it. She calmed down and got some sleep.
I have to tell you that she held herself together pretty well. And it was a really enjoyable morning of shopping - said the Mom who hates to shop. Oh and did I tell you that we are SIXTEEN PLUS YEARS IN!
This is simply a part of our children and always will be. And in order to help it to fade into the background, we have to intentionally parent them - meet them where they are at, stay in it no matter what and for as long as it takes.
Remember...this is forever. So look beyond the behavior and just decide now to parent intentionally from here on in...that is where healing will happen!
If you're parenting an Adopted or Foster child, join me in the Intentional Parent Coaching Group. We meet online weekly with live Q & A sessions to get YOUR questions answered and a plan tweaked for YOUR family! Plus you'll be surrounded by support on a closed Facebook page. Join us today.