I have a lot on my mind that I'm not sure I know how to put into words, so forgive me if this sounds jumbled or confusing.
I've been thinking a lot lately about my family and the way I have been raising my children. I've researched so much about parenting traumatized kids, yet I still feel like I know so little. We have used several resources from therapists, parenting specialists, workshops and conferences to books, researching the internet and even reading blogs of other parents who have adopted traumatized children as well as briefly belonging on a yahoo group for adoptive parents.
In the process, I have come across parents who are feeling overwhelmed and out of control and who just wanted to vent. (These ones feel very draining to me and I find that I have a hard time staying positive with my kids when I hear or read too much of this.) Having said that, I feel that I have definantly been there and felt that! I have also come across parents on the other side of the spectrum who paint a pretty picture that is all miraculous with no struggle, grief or adjustment period. I have a hard time believing their story. Don't get me wrong, there is MIRACLE in adoption. There happiness and joy! It is a beautiful thing. However, there is also grief, loss and pain associated with it, especially when the child or children are older when they are adopted.
I have also come across some ideas and theories in parenting these children. And I have followed these ideas believing that the experts knew what they were talking about. They had been there, done that and I was desperate for information and help. I followed what they said. It was hard! And we have seen results from putting their suggestions into practice. To be honest some of the parenting interventions didn't settle quite right with me. Some of them were so unnatural to what I would intrinsically do and it was hard to follow, but since what I was already doing seemed to not be helping or improving our situation, I followed them.
I don't want this to sound like I am ratting on or discounting what I have learned or done. Please don't think that. I think where my hang-up lies is in my own heart. I think because I was dealing with so many behaviors I didn't understand or know what to do with, and because my kids were harming each other in MY home, I became overwhelmed and perhaps understood some things differently than they were meant.
I did the parenting interventions.
I gave them all their own rooms.
I put alarms on their doors (to prevent them from harming each other).
I brought them home from school when it became clear to me that it was way more than they could handle.
I cuddled them.
I rocked them.
I bottle fed them.
I kept them near me.
All of these things I feel were absolutely needed and necessary to their progression. All of these things have contributed hugely to their progression!
I also did some things, that were in the the books and seminars, that I regret and that I now am questioning.
I consequenced their actions.
I caught them in their lies.
I caught them in their stealing.
I've sent them away from the table for bad manners.
I've made them make restitution for harm and damage done to our home and members of our family.
I demanded respect and compliance.
In this process, I think I have allowed myself to become a behaviorist. I've focused on their behaviors and trying to fix them. I've allowed myself to become frustrated when they repeat the same behavior again and again, then to consequence them again and again, only to have them do it over and rage about the consequence once again.
I've demanded respect and compliance. I did this because it is what I felt the experts were saying to do. I now don't know whether that's what they meant or not.
I always felt that it didn't go along with how our Father in Heaven parents us and I have really struggled with this. I've thought many times to myself, "I mess up over and over and over, yet He always is willing to accept me, faults and all, with open arms when I come back to Him. Am I being that kind of parent? Do I love my children unconditionally like that? Do I show them love no matter what? Or I am too focused on fixing them?"
I've decided that I don't want to be a behaviorist any more, I don't want to focus on fixing behaviors.
I want to look into what those behaviors mean and help my children find their voice. I don't want to demand complaince and respect. I want my children to want that for themselves. I am realizing that that won't happen unless I help them find their voice, unless I listen to what those behaviors mean and address that instead of stiffling it by focusing on getting the 'behaviors' to stop.
Everyone wants to feel important, loved, cherished and HEARD. Am I giving that to my children?
My husband says that I am too hard on myself. He says that I don't give myself enough credit for how far we've come as a family. Maybe he's right, but sometimes all I can see is what I'm doing wrong and how it needs to get better. I don't mean this in a depressed, poor me, kind of way, but in a way of realizing my mistakes and weakness so that I can do something about them. So I can take them to the Lord and He can turn them into strengths. Although I do sometimes feel overwhelmed with regret. Sometimes, I just wish I could start all over and do things better, but then again, would I know what to do? Even now? I just hope and pray constantly that our Savior can make up for where I lack.
Has any of this made sense at all? It still feels jumbled in my head. Can any of you parents relate to any of this?