Friday, July 23, 2010

wax not so eloquently

Last night I could.not.sleep. Perhaps, it was due to the fact that I went to bed early the night before and slept all night...

I've started reading yet another new book, ha, that has do to with Parenting... and this one is about Parenting Transracially Adopted Children from 1 year to 18 years of life... This is after I just finished reading the Beyond Consequences, Logic and Control... both of which have similar, albeit not the same, perspective on children and their behaviors after coming into a family via foster or adoption... they both discuss brain development in-utero and with each subsequent move from first mom to orphanage (many caregivers) or foster parent to final placement (in the case of adoption) and how this impacts even our youngest adopted children.

This particular book looks at this development, or lack thereof, in specific parts of the brain and encourages parents to be proactive in their actions with their children, at first and throughout their development. To be detectives to try to sleuth out what might be going on emotionally with our children before they react... so we don't have to 'react'. We can be proactive.

This is sort of similar to the other book... the approach is similar, but the underlying reasons behind 'why' we should be proactive are different. The BCL&C book specifically directs all actions to two base feelings... Love or Fear. This book hasn't really spelled out the fear part as much, yet, but it does touch on it. It tries to get you to look at things the way our CHILDREN see them...

So far, I am really enjoying this book, too. But it didn't help me sleep, lol. It actually made me think of when we came home and the first year when I didn't know how to react to Lil M's crying... like at dinner, if she wouldn't eat or something... I'd get upset. Mommy wasn't always so nice... and I'm sure that didn't help her in some ways... but, so far, we're doing really great, and now that she can talk (and talk and talk and talk)... our communication is good.

I wonder how many parents, though, don't realize the affect they, themselves, can have on their child's brain development? Especially, after their child comes to them traumatized from something/someone else... or multiple someone elses...

We need to be a refuge for our children's hearts and souls ...and brains. We need to help them heal.

What I personally suggest is (and believe you mean, I do not have all the answers):

1. LET GO of the expectations of how they *should* behave or should be the first few months (even years) home. Be open-minded.

2. Start slow. Figure out your routine. This might be wildly different than what the child has experienced before. Be gentle.

3. Focus on THEM and where they are RIGHT NOW. Don't worry about them getting up to speed age-wise. Focus on meeting every single one of their needs right here and right now. Just meet their need. Even if this child is older... stop all extraneous activities outside the home for awhile. Stay in. Focus on them. Watch them. See how they are reacting to you and the rest of the family. And be proactive... show them the routine. Show them a calm, consistent parent. Maybe they've never had that before. They may struggle with that concept. Be patient.

4. Don't let life pull you too far away. Make sure you have ample family time every single day... Cancel appointments. Slow down at work (or take time off, or make sure you are off time at a decent time each and every day.) Do everything for your child... feed them, bathe them, dress them, cuddle them. Get on the floor and play with them. When you get on their level, you aren't as threatening. Be on their level.

5. Make sure you are your child's *everything* as long as possible. Some people say don't let others feed your child or change them for one month after coming home. It was a rarity for me to let others feed or change Lil M even at almost 2 years... (besides the daycare). I tried to be number one ALL THE TIME... to reinforce that I AM MOMMY. She knows this... but to think that only after one month that she'd really believe that I'm Mommy... well, I wasn't so convinced. So, I say think that you should go with your gut. Be his/her most important person.

The biggest thing that encouraged me through these readings is to parent in Love. That, is of course, a no brainer... but, If you consciously parent out of love, responding to their needs and issues feels different. It doesn't feel as much like a chore or a 'have to'... it's a 'get to'!! (not that i have ever, ever thought that about parenting Lil M or even T. i love that i 'get to' parent!!!) .... I"m just saying that I don't think that all parents remember that during the tough times.

Oh, and one other reminder I had... we as parents of traumatized children should try our best (this one is hard) to NOT take things personally when our child acts out or lashes out at us. They are processing a previous hurt... and you are the one there. Try to identify with them. Bring them closer and stay calm. It's not about us. It is about them, and their hurts. In order to help fix the hurts (later), we have to try to understand them first... and to do that we have to put down our own preconceived notions and LISTEN to them... just listen. meet them where they are at... and sympathize with their pain. hold them... or cry with them... sit with them. When they are going through the pain, we must listen. Later, when they are calm,.... we can try to help them through it.

Enough with the waxing. ;-)


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