Friday, September 5, 2014
The Way We View Our Kids
I just started reading The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis, David Cross, and Wendy Lyons Sunshine. Have you read it? It's been on my "to read" list for years and I finally borrowed it from Reach's Lending Library at our last adoptive parent support group.
It's by the same people that made the TBRI training I told you guys about, and it's a lot of the same principles. The first chapter has really struck a chord with me in how I relate to and view J-Man.
Lately I find myself just annoyed with him, to be totally honest. I'm tired of the disrespect, I'm tired of the hurts, I'm tired of the mean words and the anger (we're going through an attachment regression so things have not been great lately). And I think I treat him like I'm sort of tired of him. And that's not good. Maybe it's natural in this extreme parenting, but it's not good. Sometimes we go through phases as adoptive parents where we aren't receiving much good stuff from our kids. There's not a lot of positivity, loving words, reciprocated smiles, etc. to sort of outweigh the bad and the ugly and the hard. And those phases are difficult. That's where we find ourselves now.
The Connected Child asks you to imagine you had raised your biological child in a healthy, loving home until he was 4-years-old. Then one day, he was kidnapped and kept for several months where he was neglected and abused. Miraculously one day, you get him back. How are you going to treat your child? How are you going to view him?
You're going to view him with compassion. You're not going to expect him to just shake it off, move on, and be the child you knew several months ago. You're going to expect it to take a lot of time, nurturing, therapy, etc. to help your child process, heal, move forward, thrive.
Well, that is largely the situation we find ourselves in as adoptive parents, isn't it? Our children come to us from hard places; places of neglect, abuse, abandonment, deprivation, malnourishment, etc. We have to view them from a place of compassion. We have to be on their team, us and them facing the world together. We have to be their ally. Not us against them. But us with them.
I follow an Instagram account called humansofny. It is an absolutely beautiful journalistic approach to learning people's stories in a short memory and a photo. Right now, he is in South Sudan interviewing people at the Confident Children out of Conflict Center. This is a place where displaced children go. He interviews the director and she talks about the way some children treat her with hatred when they first come to the center. She says,
"But I feel blessed by the hate. Because I know it's part of the healing process. And if they need someone to hate so that they can heal, I'm glad it can be me."
Wow. That humbled me.
What if I could view my son like that? If my son needs someone to hate, to be angry at, SO THAT HE CAN HEAL, I'm glad it can be me. Profound.
So today I'm trying to look at J-Man through lenses of compassion. I'm trying to see HIM more than his behavior. I'm trying to make it very clear to him that I'm on his team, that I'm his ally. That's it's us facing the world together.