I will just be honest with you – there are times that it is truly difficult to love some of my children. I am so tired of feeling frustrated, of being angry and not being able to have a peaceful moment when they are all at home, feeling unappreciated, taken for granted and nothing is ever good enough… for heaven’s sake these kids were orphans with nothing to their names before they were part of our family!
There are times I just want to go back to before. All of those feelings war inside of me and make me feel more angry, guilty and frustrated. Being a parent is NOT easy to begin with, and being an adoptive parent is at times beyond difficult. Where is the “all they need is love and we will all be one big happy family” story? That dream has been shattered and I am no longer naive.
There are times I stay because of how it would look to others, but then there are moments of clarity that make me realize I stay (or they stay) because that is what love is. It is an action, not an emotion. I know it would only make me feel better for a moment and then the guilt of hurting my children would surface.
If only they would listen, if only they wouldn’t be so defiant, if only they would quit taking me for granted. Then I realize that my thoughts are all about me… my expectations, my feelings, ME.ME.ME. Each of us has been shaped by our parents and we tend to parent as we have been, though some may be determined to not parent as they have been by doing the opposite – but none the less, our parenting techniques are determined by how we were raised. For me, I had a very strict father. When I was told to do something, I was expected to do it immediately without further discussion. Based on that, I really struggle when my children do not listen. I feel immediately disrespected. See where this is going?
Parenting older children who come from backgrounds of abuse, trauma and neglect has to come from a different perspective. It is not about obedience or disobedience; it is about building relationships that instill trust. Learning to parent this way can be very challenging, especially for parents that have parented before. What I have shared above is not to discourage families from adopting older children but instead it is meant to give an honest approach of how it can feel, and also to encourage families to think outside the box about how they may be parenting, have parented or will parent.
Education is important to the success of understanding your child’s behavior, and having a good support of family, friends, and professionals will be vital to your family. Take it from someone that has been there, done that, failed miserably on a daily basis and is still trying to wade through the process – it is worth it, but there will be days you will be challenged and stretched, the education and knowledge you have will be forgotten and you may be reduced to behavior you aren’t proud of. However, there will be days that you will recognize the progress that has been made, you will see that the investment of your time, your patience, and your heart is paying off. Celebrate, for these are the moments to cherish as an adoptive parent of older children!
Photo Credit: Sura Nualpradid