I wrote a post a few days ago called "Not Letting the Little Things Go". I feel the need to follow up with that because TIMING and TONE are VERY IMPORTANT to success.
It is important for our children to be able to assimilate into family life that meets everybody's needs, not just ours, and that may mean that we have some changing to do ourselves! That might include rules about food, and for older kids, it might include what they watch or listen to. If we are used to having only 3 meals a day with no snacks, that might not work for a child who was starved and lacked food. If you bring a teen into your home who is used to listening to popular rock music and you typically don't allow it, there may need to be some compromise.
We have never made a big deal about Santa here. But when Anna came home she was all about Santa. That was NOT the time to tell her there is no Santa. NO... we went to SEE SANTA... I had to adjust what I did for her needs in order to not further traumatize her.
I read online, somebody asking a question about bringing home newly adopted older children. They were asking for advice on what to do now! :)
The question was answered in a way that was rather shocking to me. I read several answers and then just felt sad.
The answers were:
"Don't give them an inch or they'll take a mile!" "Establish that YOU ARE IN CONTROL NOW, or you'll regret it!" "LAY DOWN THE LAW!" and those are just a few off the top of my head. MAKE SURE THEY RESPECT YOU!
NOT ONE PERSON SAID, "Be gentle, be kind, love them."
I left this group as I felt like I was surrounded by those I could not identify with. It made me sad because I felt like they were setting this person up for a very difficult path, and possibly a path to disruption.
Am I saying that we are not in control over here? No. Am I saying that we are not authorities in our children's lives? No. We are. Am I saying we are not respected? No. We are respected, but obedience and respect goes hand in hand with trust and relationship.
I want my kids to obey and comply with family rules out of LOVE and mutual respect, not out of some sort of forced fear or sense of doom if they don't.
The very FIRST AND FOREMOST part of instructive discipline is relationship, and working to become part of the same team.
When I say not letting anything go, I am not talking about constantly correcting or punishing a child newly home until they understand all the rules... I am talking about gently guiding and teaching them along the way.
We had to let MANY things go with all of our girls at first. We had to focus on relationship and building trust.
Now that Miss Alli has been home for 17 months, there are a few things we can work on that we didn't before. Why didn't we? Because she would have been overwhelmed! The best analogy I can think of is, "You expect a child to understand trigonometry without teaching addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, and then algebra first! "
I think that sometimes there is way more struggle and failure because of too many expectations too soon.
If we work on true relationship, a lot of things will work themselves out! And then there is just a little tweaking needed. :)
So when we ask our girls to change tone of voice, or to try walking down the hall nicely,
those times didn't happen in the beginning. They happened after a relationship of trust was developed and we had to make sure our tone was one of loving acceptance and not harsh judgement.
What happened before we got to that point? A LOT of working on relationship. We spent countless HOURS talking to Miss All,i sitting on the floor by her bed, or on her bed or snuggled up with her talking and explaining and encouraging her. We spent countless hours explaining where she misunderstood something she thought she understood, and countless hours about what was going on in her heart. There was NO WAY we could have addressed a door slam at that point. We were too busy addressing the hurt, pain and trauma of her past.
Now, we may have said when all was well and she was mournful over her actions, "How about next time you just come and talk to us and try not slamming the door?" We'd get a darling smirk and a sheepish "ok" "sorry about that".....
Now that she has come to truly TRUST US and LOVE US, if she starts down that path, we can say, "Ummm Hello, let's try that one again" And she does. I have JUST started doing this with her, in the moment!"
The reason is, that she can handle an "in the moment" redirection now. It is something we have grown into over time. And she has grown because she trusts us.
I just felt for some reason the need to clarify that. :)
“I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God- it changes me.”
― C. S. Lewis
― C. S. Lewis
I believe in the sun even when it's not shining. I believe in love even when I don't feel it. And I believe in God even when He is silent. (quote found on the wall of a concentration camp)