Recently I was reorganizing and discovered a journal with notes I had taken at a conference for adoptive parents. There was no date, no title, no speaker’s name to share, just the following quote:
Regarding adults and children – adults are ALWAYS bigger, stronger, wiser, & kinder.
Ouch! Those words felt like a punch to the gut. I was left breathless. Because I do forget! I am the adult. When my child becomes dysregulated, I should not. When my child spirals into a fight or flight response, I am to remain in control. Why? Because I am bigger and stronger. I am supposed to be wiser. After all, I’m the one who has made a life-time commitment to parent a wounded child.
Physically we are bigger and stronger. “Captain Obvious” there! It is through relationships that our children will be healed. Therefore, to use our “bigness” to intimidate, guilt, or shame our children into behaving as we want them to will only produce more hurt and more anger.
Wisdom, that’s the knowledge I have gained by making Karyn Purvis material my best friend and by putting her best-practice concepts into daily actions. I become wiser by intentionally seeking a trajectory of growth and understanding regarding children and trauma. I read books, attend conferences and trainings, and talk to other adoptive parents, but I am just human. I will forget. I do forget. I get tired. I lose patience when the principal calls AGAIN.
In those moments, I am not kind. My words are cutting, critical, and destructive. What my child needs most is a connection with me. Because, remember, it was by relationships that our children were hurt, and it will be by relationships that they are healed.
Practically, here are a few things I do when I find myself NOT being wiser and kinder:
- Practice a tongue fast. Stop talking and stop lecturing. Karyn Purvis says, “Don’t squander this resource. Cut your word flow down to a trickle.”
- Make a mustache. Yes, it seems silly, but it works! Gently pushing on the upper lip is a calming technique; it’s a parasympathetic pressure point.
- Breathe, breathe, breathe.
- Excuse myself from the situation. Let another reasonable adult take over and go find my stash of dark Dove chocolates.
- Admit it! Tell my child I was not kind and reaffirm my love to her.
No parent is perfect. Tomorrow is a new day. Give yourself grace and don’t feel ashamed to seek advice along the way. MLJ Adoptions, International is committed to helping you succeed in guiding your child to healing.
Regarding adults and children – adults are ALWAYS bigger, stronger, wiser, & kinder!
Camie Schuiteman – mama to 6 (three from adoption) and Family Resources Specialist for MLJ Adoptions, International