Wednesday, April 13, 2011

... walking a fine line

here is an issue i always struggle with .... where is that line between acknowledging our child's pain/loss/grief and insisting that they behave appropriately?  in other words .... is it ever ok to let our kids pain be an excuse to act poorly?

i contest it is a very fine line to walk.  and a line that meanders far more than i care to admit.
  • my eldest (who is 8) and i have recently returned from a trip to the Philippines where we spent a week at the orphanage that was her first home as well as spending some extended time with her birth mum.  upon return behavior has shifted and temper tantrums have ensued. 
  • my middle child (he is 6), was relinquished when he was 3 and has a very strong cognitive memory of his birth mum and family.  he was absolutely convinced that i would be seeing her and why couldn't he go.  there was confusion and anger on his part too.
these are just a couple of examples of some of the issues that seem to be pervasive in our lives.  i will sound bigoted when i say this, but i don't think that folks who don't have adopted kids can understand the balance that we must achieve between acknowledging the loss and grief and insisting on right behavior.  i am told quite often that my kids behave no different than any other kids ... but I KNOW that under it all there is a driving theme of grief and loss.  folks who don't have adopted kids don't understand that angle.
but what do i do?  how do i walk with them?  my eldest is stubborn as and doesn't want to talk to me about her tantrums.  getting to the bottom of what drives her at times is almost impossible .... no matter how approachable we are as parents.  my middle son is so much more quiet and does the reserved defiant thing ... how do i get through to him?

and when the lashing out or temper tantrums drop for no reason .... how do i handle that?  we've all been told in our pre-adoption seminars that you don't isolate your child because it reinforces their sense of not belonging.  ok.... i get that.  so we put them on stools in the middle of the living area and they can get it out of their system that way.  but does that resolve anything?

and, quite frankly, my oldest has been with us for 5+ years and while there are still moment of insecurity there .... she knows we love her and will not reject her.  i have to believe that it is appropriate to send her to her room and and tell her that when she is ready to be rational about it all we can talk about it.  but even that doesn't get through very often.

i reckon that each child is really individual and has to be dealt with differently.  and too, their age, cognitive reasoning and the length of time they have been home really makes a difference too.  man i wish there was a simple answer.  here are these kids who are lashing out because they don't know how to handle the grief and loss going on in their heads .... they cognitively don't get it yet .... and my heart breaks.  all i want to do is cuddle them and tell them that it will be ok.  but i also know that letting them get away with that behavior doesn't help them at all.

i can only speak for younger children here .... but i am coming to believe more and more that concrete lines of discipline mean as much to a child's security as does a good hug.  (me, i'd prefer the hug!  <g>)  when they know that there is discipline because of poor behavior they seem to find a sense of security in that .... especially when i take / make the time to follow it up with a discussion about our love for them, trying to find out (if possible) the triggers behind it, and a hug while saying that we will always be there for them.

there have to be rules .... they are functioning as part of a family.  it's good for them to understand this.  they have to learn to respect each other and our roles as parents.  it is affirming for them and provides a sense of security.

do i get it right?  oh no!  none of my musings or posts ever come from a place that says, "i've got it right".  i just have to keep trying and working on it .... because even in my failure i am an example to my children ... of how they can change their behavior, they can grow and they can get through their grief and loss.

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