Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Parenting . . .

Parenting styles differ with every personality and people's own experience. I understand we all differ in what we find acceptable and comfortable in regards to parenting our kids. In the community I am in with kids who were traumatized in their early life either through abuse, neglect, organic brain damage or many caregivers through the foster care system, it varies even more. Each child brings their own issues and baggage that has us parents searching high an low for a parenting strategy that fits and works for our child and their many issues. Therapeutic Parenting is a process that helps kids grown and reach their potential while still allowing for attachment and safety to grow.

I am well aware that my opinions are just that. I understand that what I have to say may not work for you. The reason I decided to stick with blogging is that I felt a wonderful connection to people who had differing opinions than I do and offered those opinions and skill sets to me in comments and personal emails. While I may not have always agreed, I took those comments and sometimes changed my view of certain things. There have been times when I have recalled a comment many months later and given it a second thought and changed how I did something. Other times, I can file them away under the "not going to happen" file. I have always been one of the opinion that people who share their life on the Internet cannot get twisted out of shape when others offer an example of how they view things of the same nature in their own world.

I try my best to parent my kids with compassion, love, gentleness and kindness. But my husband and I am also the boss. I believe that offering my children, both bio kids and my child from trauma, the safety of knowing that I am the one in charge and will make decisions according to that premise, I am offering them peace. My son who was adopted never really had anyone who was in charge and cared about his well being. He often did not have food and his basic needs were not met. He was also abused. There are those that think that in order for him to attach to me that I should allow him to make many of his own choices and not push him too greatly when it comes to certain things. I could allow him to act like a 4 year old since he really wasn't afforded that as a 4 year old. And to some extent we do. He enjoys shows on TV that geared to a much younger audience. He enjoys playing with children much younger than himself. He makes lots of decisions when it comes to food, clothing etc. But I am the one ultimately in control. If I feel he is acting too young and has the potential to change that I tell him so. If I think his behavior is something that will get made fun of in the grocery store, I tell him to knock it off. If he does not want to do something and I feel he should, I push the issue. If he says, "I don't want to go upstairs because I need to be near you, I love you." I tell him "I love you too, but it is time to put your laundry away. You don't need to always be near me in order to feel my love." It would be easy to play into him and allow him to stay with me, or go with him upstairs, but I believe that is teaching him to continue to think my love is only there when he is near me. It feeds that need to be physically close to feel attachment. It would also become something he uses to get away with not doing his chore. It becomes manipulation.

It is similar to the process we go through when he has to change his sheets. He struggles with the fitted sheet. I know he can do it. I know it is a struggle. It always go the same way. He tries and quits after 10 seconds. He says, "I can't do it." I say, "Yes you can, you have to take your time and give it a try." He tries again and stops in 10 seconds. "Mom, I can't. Will you help me." I say, "Dustin, I could do it for you, but I have faith that you can do this if you give it time. What will you do when you live in your own apartment?" He tries again and this time takes his time and does not give up. In about half a minute the sheet is on and he is proud of himself! Could I have helped? Sure! It may have been easy to do it and convince myself that I am doing it to show I love him and Mom's help their kids. I could convince myself that it would help him attach to me because he would know that I will help him with anything. In my opinion I AM doing that by showing him he is capable, I have faith in him AND I am preparing him for his future. And for me, the most important thing is that I am not being manipulated! Are there days when I will do it for him. Sure. There have been times where he says, "Mom, I have tried 4 times and I am frustrated, can you please help." You bet I will. That's what moms do.

There are things in our life that are not negotiable. He takes his pills. He does not get to choose what medications he takes and whether he takes them or not. That is not his to decide. He will do whatever a doctor feels necessary. He may not like getting blood work or peeing in a cup, but it is part of life. At one point, it was absolutely imperative that he get a rectal exam after an illness several years ago. I knew it would play on his early trauma of abuse. I knew it would be a difficult issue. But it was necessary. We talked about it. I prepared him. The doctor prepared him. We told him we understood it was uncomfortable, but it was necessary. I would've been much easier for him and me if I had refused. But the information we received we pertinent to his care. Did he like it? No. But, he learned some things are just necessary. (and, say it with me, he could not manipulate his way out of it)

Why is the manipulation thing so important for me? Kids that come from backgrounds like my son did whether it be in an abusive home, multiple foster care placements, or group homes and residential treatment facilities, learn that manipulation is one of the only things they can control. It becomes not only a way of life for them, but their go-to reaction for every situation. By me curbing that it allows him to relax and stop trying to change everyone. He can rest in the knowledge that I have his best interest at heart and I will be the one making certain decisions for him like no one else has. In my opinion this allows for more growth and less drama.

Once again, just my opinion . . . and Lord knows, I could be wrong. :)


Miz Kizzle said...

I agree wholeheartedly. I cringe when I read blog posts by parents (usually moms) who go to ridiculous lengths to try and make their traumatized children "feel safe."
Don't want to sleep in your own bed? Fine. Sleep with me and Dad will go sleep on the couch.
Afraid of the neighbor's tiny little dog because it barks whenever you walk past on the way to the bus stop? Don't fret, sugarplum, mom will drive you to school.
Mom plans an evening out with her friends? Scream and cry that mom doesn't love you and you don't "feel safe" without her at home. Mom will cancel her plans.
Scenearios like these are flat-out manipulation and yet the parents fail to see it. They cajole, bribe, and give in rather than set firm boundaries. Kids NEED boundaries, otherwise they feel like no one's in charge and they panic and act out.
You get it. I wish more parents did.

"Lil Ol' Me" said...

What Mix Kizzle said!

:)De said...

I think parents of hurt children are so very brave and those who blog are such a life line to those of us who still live the secret life.

Sophie said...

Wow. Well writen. I too deal with manipulation from my two hurt children almost constantly, especially my little girl.

Others don't see it as that but it is what it is. period. I recognize it every time. And oh, my, it makes her mad when I don't fall for it. :)

Acceptance with Joy said...

It amazes me to what great lengths the kids will go to manipulate.

We live it every day. Every hour. I never give in to the manipulation (that I am aware of ) and yet they keep trying.

Some days it makes ME feel like the wicked witch of the West. They try so HARD to prove me wrong and eventually I begin to wonder.... but as I stick to my guns they eventually will acknowledge their sham.

It is very wearing on the patience.