Fear is a powerful emotion. We know what it feels like to be afraid of something, but we often gloss over the way fear controls our lives and most importantly, our children’s lives.
Everyone said it would happen. I didn’t believe them. Not that I would be gone too soon or anything. Just thought I’d have a life-long hover between my 20s and 30s. Yet surprise, surprise, I hit the 40s. And what they said would happen…did.
This is a guest post by author and therapist Ron Nydam (PhD). Ron specializes in helping adoptive family’s develop and connect in a healthy, positive way. His latest book, Wise Adoptive Parenting
, helps families better connect to their children, and adoptees feel heard and understood. You can pick up your very own copy by clicking here
Through all of the trauma education, and attachment strategies we can learn (and certainly benefit from), our connection with our children still comes down to one factor: relationship!
Many parents who are new to the adoption journey wonder what it takes to make good things happen in the development of their children. They may wonder day after day how to find a way to be effective with their children who frustrate their first attempts at helping them manage his or her behavior. Parenting quickly becomes a guessing game as to what might work and might not work when a child’s behavior is out of control, or over the rails in terms of everyday family life.
We’re parenting children who have come from past trauma. Some have major special needs that require us to be hands on all the time. This begs the question: will he or she ever live on their own, apart from us?
I pick my child up from the residential facility he lives in on a warm Sunday morning. He’s in high spirits as we slowly walk through the reinforced doors and down the sidewalk toward my car. Our conversation bounces from movies, to who the Colts are playing later that day, to whether or not I think Thanos can be defeated in the next Avengers film. It feels good to be with him. I love him deeply.
This was supposed to be a post from Kristin about taking better care of yourself while caring for children from hard places. But then I read the story of the recent suicide of California Pastor Andrew Stoecklein, after battling with depression. So I decided to talk openly and honestly about the struggle of being a pastor.
I’ve been there.
This thought bounced around in my mind in the early morning hours, like words echoing off of canyon walls, as I read the heart-crushing story of how Pastor Andrew Stoecklein’s life ended this past weekend. In the darkness of my bedroom, I wiped tears from my eyes as I thought about his wife and young sons now trying to figure out how to live life without their husband and daddy. I read how he struggled with depression, and anxiety and I identified perfectly.
I used to believe that my child was just being bad. I was convinced that he was a bad kid who just wanted to make our lives hell. But then I discovered some truth that totally transformed everything I thought, and most importantly, the way I reacted!
There are stories throughout history of people coming into the light of understanding. Call it transformation, if you will. These moments were life-altering for not only the person who experienced it, but those who were close to them as well. The Apostle Paul hated Christians and was actually responsible for killing many because he believed in an ideal, or a narrative playing out in his mind. And then he came face to face with the truth. He stepped into the light, and it transformed him.
Often times, when our children are acting out, misbehaving, or out of control, we can fall into the mode of thinking they are just being bad. But there’s way more happening with them than we often understand. How do you gain the right perspective in those heated moments?
I know how this goes for most of you. You’re parenting a child who routinely acts out and sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason (or so it seems). They act like they have no control of their little bodies in public places. They’re aggressive toward other siblings (and it’s usually when you’re driving 75 miles an hour down an expressway). They meltdown over, what seems to be, meaningless things. They pester others in your household until everyone is out of control and severely dis-regulated. You name it!
The answer is yes. Absolutely. You can. But it doesn’t happen in one day, overnight, or even in a year or two. We are wounded humans and we have the task of parenting children who have suffered deep wounds. It takes a lot of time. But healing is achievable. It happens step by step…
When I was a child, I planned to save the world. The whole entire world. In 4th grade, my teacher shared pictures of an ocean filled with plastic bottles and soda straws. I committed to recycle. When I was in 10th grade my ecology teacher warned us of the plight of the timber rattle snake. I promised to care for their habitat. When I was 12 my parents watched a documentary on the orphan crisis in impoverished countries. By the time I was 16, they adopted my youngest brother from Bulgaria. I would never again be unaware of the suffering in the world. I knew without a doubt that I would make a change.
It’s been a little more than a week since we opened enrollment for Oasis Community and the stories we are hearing have moved us, inspired us, and left us in tears. Here’s a little more about Oasis..
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“I can’t thank you enough for Oasis. It showed up at the perfect time. I was drowning with my kids, with my marriage, with my life! I think you guys may have just saved my life!”