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Start Your Day Off Right
Are you always wondering what to do next, that will help us make a difference in our lives as adoptive or adoptive parents? My answer always starts with… Intentionally Building a Safety Net for your child. There are many ways in which we do this and I think one of the most fundamental ways is when we meet them right where they are.
Our children come to us with so much life and loss behind them. Among other things, they have missed stages of development and the impacts of trauma have taken. They had to adapt and survive. There is so much behind the cover of the book that is his life story.
As I continue to answer my question, I ask you and those who asked it before to understand that it seems that we know this story, as we have read this book before and that it seems that we know the end. Here is the BIG part – it might look the same, but it is imperative that you remember to never judge the pages of the book by its cover. It is HUGELY important that we check our expectations and read the book with an open mind and heart…even memorize every page.
Meeting your child right where he/she is increases your child’s success in life and ultimately in relationships. Start by understanding that your chronological age and emotional age are not the same. He may look 13, but that doesn’t mean he’s willing to deal emotionally with everything it involves (remember… book – cover). Do you see your child sabotaging the goodness in his life? How about problems making friends, or doing homework or taking care of toys/things? What if emotionally the 13 year old can really only handle life at about 6 years old? What if your seven-year-old is emotionally capable of managing only at 3? What if your 3-year-old is still trying to master the baby steps?
Remember my friends, your child’s story involves being a survivor. The survivors can see well from the outside, but they “go away” for the time being. That’s what it costs them, inside, every time they have to survive that gets in the way of healing. That gets in the way of their ability to make positive, loving and trusting relationships.
Many misinterpret survival behavior as defiance. Many misinterpret their child’s emotional inability to manage a moment, finish a job, do a job, relate to a person, pay attention to an item, interpret a nuance, etc., as a challenge, manipulation or, even worse, a lack of awareness. or respect
I once had a client who was so frustrated with her twelve year old daughter. She really felt like when her child didn’t do his job in the right way, in a punctual way without being reminded, it was disrespectful and it showed that he didn’t really love her. (I’ve been doing this – I get it!) Now, my response usually goes something like…”You would ask a 3-year-old to complete this task the right way every time, in a timely manner without ask? It sounds ridiculous. When you put it that way – isn’t it? Her daughter was SO emotional 3! She handled most emotional situations from a 3-year-old perspective – especially in her relationship with her mother.
Meet your child at their emotional age as well as their chronological age…and most of the time in that order!
I want to challenge you to start today and every day by remembering to read every word on every page. Do not assume or paraphrase. Don’t look for the end to be like someone else’s end. When we look clearly at the pages of our children, we can meet them where they are, which allows us to build the Safety Net that they have lost. From that network comes confidence, self-esteem, regulation, and the belief that I am worthy of goodness…from the network comes healing!
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