Relationship First part 3

Over the last couple of days, I wrote two diary entries, here and here, that were fiction, but based upon real circumstances.
Today, I’d like to write about concepts for both parent and child to be able to come together and heal.
The weightier responsibility is on the parent, because parents are there to lead and to guide.
I cannot stress how important HOW we parent is to our hurt children.  There is a very narrow style of parenting when it comes to hurt children that truly works. 
There are many ways that can lead to the destruction of your relationships and family.

So, with that said: I will combine the statements of the two posts and then offer insight and solution.

Ready?  Let’s go!
(Child’s perspective)
When my parents first came to see me, they were so happy and excited, I thought they would burst with joy!  They really liked me and I liked them too!
I couldn’t believe that I was actually going to go to America!  It was so awesome!
(Parent’s Perspective)
We passed court and it was awesome! Our daughter loves us and can’t wait to get home to America.  She is already starting to speak a little English!
She is very affectionate, and I really like that, but her breath is really bad and she needs to learn how to use soap.  I guess we’ll learn that when we get home.  I’m just happy to have her for my daughter!
  She doesn’t brush her teeth after meals. She eats with her mouth open and it makes me sick.
She has ZERO hygiene…. I mean, it has been 8 months… how hard is this to learn?
Her hair is greasy and she doens’t like the soap or shampoo I bought her.

Both the child and parents are excited to become a family.  The child doesn’t care what the parents look like, how they smell, if they use soap… these are things that do not matter!
The parents are already taking note of what to change.  It isn’t mentioned to the child,
but the plan is to change things when they get home.
Obviously things will need to change, and hygiene needs to be taught, but it should not be something that causes stress.
Our daughters each came home with hygiene issues.  Just a little bit at a time, in a relaxed way we learned how to accomplish new skills.  There was no rush.  Especially with an older child we need to be very careful not to shame them.
Never assume they know what these items are for. Many children have never seen items we take for granted.  Some are used to using leaves for feminine hygiene or toilet paper.

Presenting your child with their very own tooth brush and mouth wash, deodorant, a manicure set, hair brush, shampoo and soap along with a personal towel and wash cloth,  they will be delighted!  If you include nail polish  and hair bows or ties, you will be a rock star!  When they are presented as a special gift, it gives a much different feel than, “you stink” or “you need to get your hair combed” .  It gives the message that you care about them and want them to have special things that weren’t available to them before.   And then for bonding time, you can break out the manicure sets and learn how to use them together by playing “Spa Day”. 🙂
Don’t lose patience if it has been a long time.  These things take time, and we must be very careful to make sure that our children don’t get the message that outward appearance is more important than inward.
Being creative and doing things together can go a long way in the learning process.

Child’s Perspective
When we got home, everything was so strange.  My new family takes their shoes off before going inside, but they don’t have house shoes like we did at the orphanage.  They just wear socks or bare feet.
There is a lot of food, be we aren’t really allowed to eat it.  I learned that right away.
I don’t know why they were upset, but they were.  My feelings were hurt because I thought they loved me and wanted me to have good things.
I didn’t know I had to ask.  I have never had to do that before.  I don’t want to make them mad at me, so I’ll try to remember.
Oh I miss the foods I used to eat.

Parent’s Perspective
I think it is really time to start cracking down on some of her unreasonable behaviors.
She is getting away with too much!
Like, she doesn’t take her shoes off when she comes into the house. The other day she got MUD all over the carpet!
She has become very picky about food. At first she was willing to try things, but not any more…. She is stubborn! She is also hiding food in her bedroom to eat in the middle of the night. It is gross! I just can’t believe this child is STEALING our FOOD!
When I tried to talk to her about it, she just got frustrated and angry. UGH

Keep in perspective that people are way more important than things, including carpet.
Things get broken and ruined with kids.  It is a fact.  We must make sure that relationship comes first!
There is nothing wrong with wanting shoes off.  If they forget, just gently remind.  Don’t get angry. A good opportunity to show our children that they ARE valuable is to NOT get mad if mud is on the carpet and say,  “Oh well! You are more important than carpet!”  Offer to help them clean it up with you… (a chance for bonding)  and then a gentle reminder… “This is why we take our shoes off.”   That is all that is needed…. they will get it.

Food issues can be HUGE for the child who comes from a hard background.

Make sure that the children have access to healthy foods all the time.  Many of our children are so food deprived, they are very tiny for their ages.  A common trait among children who have been neglected like this, is hoarding food.  Please PLEASE do not accuse them of stealing.
They are a part of the family.  Food is for the family.  LET THEM EAT, GRAZE, LOOK INTO THE REFRIGERATOR AND PANTRY…. LET THEM.  It will be vital to healing.
If you are cooking dinner and they are super hungry, let them take a bite of something and then lovingly remind them that dinner will be ready in just a few minutes, engaging them in the preparation.
Kids love to help!
Each of our girls had a lunch box near their bed full of their favorite non perishable foods.
This way, they knew that they would not go hungry in the night time.  This completely takes away the “stealing” food thing.  All they need to do is let you know when they need more and you can go together and provide more.  The cool thing is, they will be trusting you for necessary items, where before they depended upon themselves.  This will start to build bonds of trust without even trying!
Sweetie 2 had the hardest time with foods. She had been severely starved, and then when she came to America, she struggled with switching over to American foods.
Her previous family would force her to sit and eat to which she cried and threw up.
This is so not necessary.  She had sensory issues and texture issues that took a long time for her to get past.
We had to take her all the way back and offer her comfort foods.
Her famous “I only eat red soup!” makes us laugh today.  She eats everything now!

Don’t be surprised if your child craves the foods of home. Do all you can to provide them for him or her, including learning how to cook Russian or Ukrainian!  Ask them about their favorite foods and work to provide those for them now and again.
Just think about how YOU felt in a foreign country.  By the time we were ready to leave Ukraine, I was totally ready for Nachos!
I can’t imagine if I had moved to a new country and had the feeling that I would never taste my favorite foods again!
Let’s not do that to our children.
Offer tastes of foods to them.  Just one bite… and if they hate it, they don’t have to eat it.
If they resist trying, use humor and offer to feed them… Do the airplane or the choo choo train….. and win their hearts by your acceptance of them.
And don’t punish them with a PBJ if they aren’t ready to eat.
Building relationship is EASY when it comes to food if you show how much you care be providing comfort foods.

Child’s Perspective
I am in trouble again.  I don’t really know why, but Mom and Dad seem to be unhappy with me a lot and it is getting worse, not better…..
I am really trying, but I don’t think they like me.  In fact, I KNOW that they HATE me!
They like all the other kids better than me.  I can feel it.  I KNOW it.
I’m beginning to think they just adopted me so they could feel good about themselves; and because they wanted somebody to do chores.
I am so hurt.  They were supposed to love me.  I don’t even like them any more. Obviously they don’t like me!
I don’t feel like trying anymore. Why bother?  I’ll just be in trouble anyway.
I really do feel badly that I yelled at them and said hurtful things.  I don’t want to hurt them.
But why are they hurting me?
Why does life have to be this way?
Why should I respect them if they don’t respect me?
I feel like I’m going crazy!

Parent’s Perspective
We are working on our English and she is doing really well.  It has only been 8 months and she speaks PERFECT ENGLISH! She even has an accent!…..
If I ask her about ANYTHING , she gets defensive and angry.  In fact, she lies about everything. I am beginning to think that

her wanting to come to America was a lie.
She just wanted out of the orphanage!
I am trying hard to connect with her, but somehow, if I correct anything and try to be her parent, she won’t let me. She has begun to smart off and say rude things.
She even YELLED at ME????? I would have NEVER done that to MY parents!
I AM her parent!  There is NO WAY she is a scared little orphan like what I have read….
I would have never been so bold!
A parent’s job is to correct their child, NOT be their friend.
If they don’t do what I ask them to, they have to be punished.  That’s how it was when I was a kid, and I am fine.  Why is it so hard for her to see that I love her and want what is best for her.  She acts like I am the enemy!
I’m SURE she has RAD! Normal children don’t act this way!
I feel like I’m going

Do you get the sense that both the child and the parents are totally missing the mark?
They are both trying and both are assuming the worst of each other!
For the child, they have to learn how to trust. TRUST comes BEFORE willful or joyful obedience.  But we need to give them a REASON to trust.  If they feel like suspects in their own home, all the time, or get the general sense that you are dissatisfied with them, they will have their guard up.
Our children are not objects to be FIXED.  They are people. Broken people.  This should give us cause for great COMPASSION and LOVE.
We need to focus on filling that love cup, not correcting what irritates us.
Frankly, we most likely do things that irritate them too!

The biggest struggle that most families go through, is the struggle of communication.
This can be communication because of limited English skills or social skills.
Most of our kids have issues with both.
DO NOT ASSUME that because your child speaks English with an Accent after being home a year, two years or 5 years, that they have “Mastered” the English language!
There are articles written that suggest mastery can happen when you double the age of the child who has come to their new home.  So if they were 8 when they came to America, they most likely will not have English mastery until 16 at the soonest!

A child who is attachment challenged will not do well with an angry parent, or one that loses their temper.
Think of “Beauty and the Beast” when all the characters tell the Beast, “You MUST control your temper!”
Well, don’t be a beast to your children!  CONTROL YOUR TEMPER!
You are the adult. You are the one modeling how to behave.  If you find your child is yelling in your face…. It might be best to find out if you are doing the same thing.
Or, if they CAME yelling in your face, as our youngest sweetie did, make sure you don’t model THEIR behavior, but instead teach them kindly  and patiently a better way.
MODEL to them how you want them to behave.

Always have loving, forgiving arms of acceptance and warmth.  Do not turn your child away,  EVER.
A parents job is to lead and guide their child to successful living.  It is not punitive.
Parents MUST understand that discipline is not equal to punishment!
There are plenty of families out there that PUNISH and GROUND and SPANK and TAKE THINGS AWAY to no avail.  The only lesson learned in many cases is that mom and dad get mad and I can’t do anything.  This can cause anger to brew in the heart of a child.
It leads to frustration and eventually will boil over into rebellion and the child gives up because they cannot please the parent.
Instead, loving guidance, through example, talking, showing, role play, humor, and times of teaching can all be ways to discipline our children and cause them to walk a successful path.

Take time to LISTEN to your child.  Tell them…. “I’m here. I’m listening.”
And then be careful to not question how they feel. Instead, accept it and then offer comfort.
It is hard when their feelings may be lying to them, as in a child who thinks everybody else is being treated better than them, or loved more, or that you don’t like them.
First, make sure your own behaviors are not sending this message, and if they are adjust them and sincerely apologize.
If you are doing well, listen, tell them you are listening to them, and then say, “I’m sorry you are feeling so rejected.”
“What can I do to help?”
You’d be surprised just how much they just wanted to see if you were listening or cared.
Let them know you care with words and actions.

When you are both calm, you can talk to them about feelings and how sometimes because of our background and insecurities, those feelings can actually lie to our hearts.  They can tell us our parents don’t really love us, when they do.
Teach your child to “self talk”.  If they are feeling rejected, teach them to tell themselves, “No, my parents love me.” “My parents prove they love me by……”
“Just because mom got upset, that does not mean she doesn’t love me.”
“We all get upset sometimes, even me”……
Those words of self talk can talk a child right back into reality.

Use the Mom, Dad and Me books…. Communicate with them always offering notes of love and encouragement!
Be the encouragement your child needs to succeed!

Child’s Perspective
I don’t know what to do.  I feel lost.

Parent’s Perspective
I am tired of trying.  It scares me. Sometimes I feel so angry. I give up.
I just don’t want to try anymore. I am weary.
I feel so lost. 🙁

For both Parent and Child…. NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER give up! NEVER EVER EVER! EVER!

There is no question that it is HARD parenting a child who comes from a hard place.
But there is joy and beauty in the process.
We are all broken…. and as we learn to trust the Lord and His gentle example to us,  and we learn to lay our lives down, setting them aside for the benefit of another, something beautiful begins to happen in our own hearts and lives.  WE begin to grow and mature and change.
We must let go of fear.  Fear is the KILLER of attachment, as is unforgiveness.
Heather Forbes says that we need to live in the present.  She is right.
We cannot look at the past, or the future with hearts of fear or resentment.
We must live in the present, full of forgiveness every moment of every day.

Don’t allow your weariness to cause you to give up!
Sometimes all we can do to recharge ourselves in a difficult situation is to take a bath and pray.    There have been many times where I have taken a tearful soak in the bath tub and cried out for wisdom and mercy from my heavenly Father.
And HE gives STRENGTH to the weary!
Find your bearings in the Hope of Christ.
Remember, that when we HATED Him, he LOVED us!
We are not perfectly behaved, holy beings.  We make plenty of mistakes and we are forgiven daily.
Let’s remember that perspective for our children.
They won’t give up, if we don’t give up on them.

I hope this has been a helpful post.  OUR ATTITUDES are powerful.
We can build up or destroy with out tongues.
Let’s keep them tamed!

If you need materials in this area. Please go to the
education page and check out the links there.


1 Responses to Relationship First part 3

  1. ChristieM says:

    This was a face book post from Empowered to Connect:
    Children from hard places frequently experience really BIG feelings and emotions, and we as parents sometimes struggle to understand and know how to respond. So, we often end up going to war with our children’s emotions, leaving us disconnected and leaving them isolated just when they need us most.

    Instead, we need to try approaching our children’s feelings and emotions with what Dr. Dan Siegel refers to as COAL — curiosity, openness, acceptance, and love (empathy). As you practice this response you will discover that even though you may not agree with or even understand what your child is feeling, that is what he is feeling and experiencing in that moment. And the best way to help him make sense of those BIG feelings and bring them under control is to meet him where he is — in the midst of those BIG feelings — and lead him through them.

    Rather than allowing your child’s BIG feelings and emotions to make it “you versus him,” you have the opportunity to join with him and confront, make sense of, and tame those BIG feelings — together. It’s not always easy, but it is always worth it.

Comments warmly welcomed!


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