Thursday, April 11, 2013
we're just past nine months since our family almost doubled. Looking back, I try to figure out where the biggest struggles have been...what did we not anticipate? I think without question the adjustment has been toughest on Sam. He was so excited about adopting; even in Taiwan, he was wonderfully attentive and an adorable big brother.
Having 3 little people HOME, day in and day out, though, has proven pretty challenging. Add to the mix that he's hitting adolescence more fiercely than Emma did a few years back and you have a perfect storm of emotion. Of course, the "littles" demand (and get) a lot of time and attention--that's a given. So, there is jealousy. Then, there's the effort he does make to play with them that often ends poorly, with them getting hurt or him feeling offended. I'm sure it's not that different from regular families and sibling rivalry, but it has been mighty painful for us and him.
Thankfully, he is taking an online leadership course through Williamsburg Academy (wacademy) and has been pushed to ask hard questions of himself, and discuss WONDERFUL literature that stretches him mentally and emotionally. It's a positive, but still, we struggle.
One insight I had about a month ago was that I needed to spend GOOD PERSONAL time with him daily...whether to be an audience for violin practice or help with math or a listener. I rarely get the full amount of time that I wish for, but it does feed him.
Another freeing suggestion came from a mentor blog onethankfulmom. She talks about how all of a sudden, because of personalities and needs of specific kids, mornings had to undergo a change. Certain kids stayed in bed til 8, others got ready and left for the day. In other words, instead of everyone happily having breakfast together as a family, they came in specifically planned waves...which, as she said, was completely the opposite of how she wanted her mornings to look. Who thinks that the plan will be to keep family members separated? BUT, as we pass through this first year of adapting and adjusting, we are making whatever changes that will get us through, and hopefully, we progress, bit by bit. I think and hope he is finding his equilibrium.
Saturday, April 6, 2013
Tantrums...a less pleasant part of parenting, and I would say it's only been over the past few months that we've had more issues with them and one child. It usually seems to be about control, ie, if you don't let me be in control, I will scratch and kick and hit for a very long time. And in the adoption world, you have "time in," where you are present, instead of time out (which I am not sure I bought into anyway). But if you are present, you are fair game for a little pain.
In our case, the latest tantrum ended in not being able to go sledding. But even as that consequence became clear, the child cried off and on for another hour saying, "I want to go sledding."
"But, because of your choices (hit, scratch etc), you don't get to go this time." (repeat Many times)
No connection of consequence. It's not always that way, but this particular time, the cause/effect seemed to evade. And so, I read and think and test out what to do next.
Meanwhile, I came across a great adoptive parent blog called onethankfulmom that is a wealth of information. I'm sure the actual solution is somewhere in there, but in the meantime, I am reading a book she reviewed titled The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog by Bruce Perry.
illustration from: lfcc.on.ca
The author, a psychiatrist, describes through brain research and stories of children, how the brain develops. We always hear that children are so resilient, but he shows how, in fact, when they experience trauma, parts of their brain simply do not make the connections that normal children make. They are stalled, if you will, in a specific developmental place. For example, a neglected child who cries for food but doesn't receive it, does not connect that a cry will bring relief. So patterns of trust and empathy are not established.
a child's brain scotland.gov.uk
It's pretty deep food for thought...and I don't know factually the extent of what our children experienced, but I must behave as though there was trauma and try to understand what will heal them.