Are you thinking about adopting? Take this advice to heart
In this day and age, with all the parenting advice articles at our fingertips because of the internet, there is no excuse for mediocre parenting skills.
It’s not about the different types of parenting styles or perfectionism when it comes to how to be a good parent, but about half-hearted attempts at parenting – especially with adopted children.
There is no excuse. So, how do you become the best parent you can be before adopting a child?
Before moving forward with adoption, here are fve must-know parenting skills for how to be a good parent that will help you raise a happy, healthy adopted child:
1. Immerse and educate yourself in adoption trauma
There are documented facts surrounding adoption trauma.
You’ve spent all this time in the adoption process – doing the research, the home study, filling out profiles, completing all the homework, and talking to lawyers. You are making an intentional decision to adopt and raise someone else’s child… a child who is broken.
If you don’t fully educate yourself regarding their trauma, you will perpetuate it. Critical elements of their wellbeing will be sacrificed. It’s comparable to denying a diabetic child their insulin.
The effects of this neglect could be life-threatening. There are accounts of adoptees having a suicide rate four times higher than non-adoptees.
An adopted child relies on you to protect and guide them. They trust that you will do what’s best for them, know how to support them, and, above all, advocate for them. Anything less is selfish, egotistical, and mediocre adoptive parenting.
If you don’t fully educate yourself regarding their trauma, you will perpetuate it
2. Heal your own unhealed wounds from your past
We all have them and they manifest into physical and emotional pain. This pain gets transposed onto your child as a response to their behaviour.
By not healing your past pains, you’re like a grenade waiting for the kid to pull the pin. You cannot effectively parent as long as your own inner child is reeling in feelings of rejection and victimisation.
Children need you to set the example. If you can’t practise self-control, how can you expect a kid to do the same?
3. Try not to have unrealistic expectations for your child
This is placing a burden on them to perform and please you, which inhibits their mental capabilities and robs them of their individuality. An approach like this is parent-centred because, as long as your focus is on conformance, the child’s welfare is at risk.
Putting expectations on a child, especially a wounded adoptee, will have them feeling unworthy and inadequate, reinforcing their existing feelings of being ‘given away’ because they weren’t good enough. They weren’t perfect enough for their mother and they are not perfect enough for you.
This will eventually spiral into behaviours whether they be outward expressions of anger and defiance or inward self-loathing and compliance.
Both can lead to disastrous endings.
4. Be an observer
Slow down and recognise your triggers and your patterns. Notice the chain of events that cause you to either act or react in a certain way. We all have patterns and they come from our past programming.
When you think of your own parents, do you remember when you did or said a certain thing, and you knew exactly how they would react?
By observing yourself instead of living through knee jerk reactions, you gain self-control. You get a deeper understanding of who you really are and where you’ve been living through the doctrine of someone else.
And in doing so, can position yourself to be available for your child.
Be curious about your child’s biological family so you might understand their own inevitable curiosity
5. Always be curious and question everything
The beliefs that you currently have about child adoption and parenting will all need to be put into question. You can even question my own words here. Alternatively, search for the truth.
More importantly, always be curious with your child. Ask more questions to keep them engaged and allow them a voice and a safe place to express. Be in wonderment of their very existence and curious how they might view the world differently to you.
Be curious about your child’s biological family so that you might understand their own inevitable curiosity. Question your motives for why you do the things you do.
Question your parents’ motives and beliefs for why they parented the way they did. Remain curious with these questions because the answers will give you great insight.
By practising these parenting skills daily, you can avoid becoming a mediocre adoptive parent and nurture your adopted child’s growth in order to raise a healthy, happy kid.
Suzanne Jones is an adoptive parenting coach and mother of three whose mission, as an adoptee herself, is to help fearful adoptive parents become more confident in their parenting skills and learn the tools they need to best meet the needs of their adopted child. Connect with her to learn more, and for additional guidance and support, visit her website.
This article was reprinted with permission from YourTango.