Celebration seems like a normal part of our humanity, but for children who have experienced great loss, the ability to celebrate isn’t a given. How can we empower our children to process the good parts of their story?
Have you ever met a person who seems to sabotage every good thing? Do you know someone who avoids family gatherings, such as Thanksgiving or Christmas? How about someone who always seems to see the glass half empty? The child who cannot seem to relax and have a good time may simply not know how.
Following a safety plan in your home is fairly cut and dry. You establish the plan, you follow the plan, and often the plan is discussed openly amongst you and your children. But that changes when you’re in public. How do you continue to follow your plan and not embarrass your children?
This may seem like a moot subject during this current landscape of life. At some point, however, we’re going to return to normal and begin interacting with others outside of our home. When that time comes, you will have to hold up the safety plan you created to keep your children, and other children safe. But how do we do that and not face embarrassment?
Once we discover therapeutic parenting strategies, we go all-in. It’s a lightbulb moment. But is it possible to overdo it, or apply the strategies so much that they become enabling? Here’s some perspective…
“Don’t you understand how to work with kids from trauma?” my nine-year-old screamed at the bus driver as he exited the doors of the school bus and stepped onto our long driveway. He turned around and continued, “You have to talk to us in a calm voice! My brain has flipped right now, and I’m freaking out!” I scurried to the end of the driveway and stood at the open door of the bus, staring directly into the bus driver’s red face. He was not amused. “Go inside now,” I firmly told our son, and then I apologized to the driver.
Helping family and close friendships understand you and how you parent can be tricky. They mean well, but may not fully understand how to support you. But there are ways you can encourage them and help them gain a healthy understanding.
Once we know the importance attachment and bonding play in a healthy upbringing, we tend to parent differently. Children from traumatic pasts have had their initial attachment disrupted, so we must parent intentionally to teach our children healthy skills to build trust. We can’t stay isolated, and neither can our children, so we must form a sturdy support system around our them. Most people will get on board with our parenting style, but sometimes even our close family and friends don’t understand why do what we do. Some will intentionally sabotage our efforts; others will unintentionally disrupt the bond we are building with our child. Whatever the motivation behind the behavior of the adults surrounding our family, we must remain firm.
It can be a challenge to understand what children with a trauma history need the most. Especially since trauma often leaves a child unable to express this in a healthy way. Out of this, there are some crucial needs that we as caregivers must be aware of.
“If you don’t stop holding that baby, she’s never going to learn to walk,” a nosey middle-aged man exclaimed in the church lobby for all to hear. My ten-month-old daughter, already an introvert by nature, was wrapped around my body like a koala. For her, the church lobby was a place to be endured. She hated the bustle, the noise, and the constant attention. As a pastor’s family and a transracial adoptive family, we were often the center of attention.
Perhaps this post is timely given the current, and rapid moving, changes our children are navigating through right now. The fact is, our children carry a lot of loss with them. How do we empower them to grieve this?
Our children often hesitate to show and share emotion because they have not had a safe place to do that in the past. They may keep hard parts of their story from us because they are afraid we will think less of them, that we will think less of their first family, or that we will not be able to handle the knowledge of the sad things.
Lying. It’s so frustrating to deal with as a parent. We want to engage, and battle until we can squeak the truth out of our children. But it’s often futile. How do we respond, and what can we do, when our children constantly lie?
“Did you take the cookie?” – Child shakes his head no, while holding the cookie.
“Did you text that boy from school, that dad and I asked you not to text?” – Teenager’s eyes go wide as she swears on her life she didn’t.
The foster and adoptive parenting journey may not be for everyone, and that’s okay. But everyone can do something. If you know someone who has asked this question, or you have wondered this, here are some ways you can help…
It’s true, not everyone is called to foster or adopt. When Mike and I first started fostering, I couldn’t see a reason that we would ever stop. Children are coming into care at an alarming rate and many are unable to return home. When we first became foster parents we knew that our primary goal was to reunify families and help children heal. However, children are often in foster care long term. Many are adopted by their foster families. Permanency is a good thing but it also means that foster homes are reaching capacity and having to close their doors. This is what happened in our family. The day after our 8th adoption, our home had reached capacity, we closed our license and stopped fostering.