Do you remember why you started?
Take a moment and go back to that season when you first decided to foster / adopt? What were your reasons?
Or maybe you are in that season now. What are your reasons to invite this child into your home?
Are you doing it to fill a need in your heart?
Are you doing it to make someone else happy?
Are you doing it to help heal a hurting child who needs a home?
Even parenting biological children can often be called the toughest role you would ever take on. Now add on abandonment and trauma issues and it becomes even more difficult. So in these challenging moments, knowing your why becomes essential.
What is your why?
Once you are able to articulate your why, either alone or together with your co-parent, will help you clarify what you need to do next. Sometimes we have this flipped.
We focus too much on what we are doing, and forget to strategize on the why.
So my encouragement for you this week is to take some time alone to think through why you are parenting the way you are...
Are you parenting in such a way that fills a need in your heart?
What I mean is, are you making decisions in your home that make you feel better? The classic overdone example of this is the parent that enrolls the child in the sport that they wanted to excel in. It is not that the child is particularly excited about the activity on their own, but it is the parent's decision. Maybe you don't go to that level, but it is a worthwhile activity to journal for a moment about what parenting decisions you are making simply to fill a need in your heart. Being aware of this possibility, labeling it when it occurs, and making corrections as needed is essential not only for our child's emotional health, but for ours as well.
When we are parenting in a way to fill a need in our heart, we will almost always be disappointed. That is a lot of pressure to put on a little child or teenager. They will never be able to fill our emptiness and those types of needs can only be filled spiritually. My gentle suggestion when we sense we are slipping into this place, is to increase our spiritual practices.
Are you parenting in such a way to make someone else happy?
I have met some parents who made the decision to become a parent to please their extended family or achieve some social expectation. Others choose to foster / adopt in order to please their partner or church community.
Again, I gently want to say that it is a high bar to reach for if you are choosing to invite a child into your home in order to make others happy. Your efforts in this way will never accomplish your goal. If you choose to foster / adopt, you will be challenged and possibly end up resenting those folks you originally wanted to please.
Parenting children and teens from hard places (remember, all cute little babies do eventually become moody teens) is an adventure in healing. The goal is to help these children heal from their abandonment and trauma to become loving and trusting adults. Knowing your why will help you formulate all of your "whats". I mean, when you know your why, you will find it much easier to decide when you comfort and when to consequence. You will find much more courage to stand up to those that disagree with your parenting decisions. When you know your why, you will be able to stand firm and flexible in the storms of parenting and be able to come through stronger on the other side.
If you need some help processing through these questions or maybe how to get back on a course that will help your child heal,
let's chat firstname.lastname@example.org
I have coaching sessions available this week.