Fear is very real in the lives of children from hard places. In fact, fear often ‘bullies’ our children into much of their misbehavior. As a result, it is critical that parents of children from hard places approach fear and fear-driven behaviors with compassion, insight and wisdom. Watch as Dr. Purvis explains the impact of fear and how parents can begin to help their children learn to trust and let go of fear.
“Who are you?” I remember thinking this unthinkable thought as I looked into the face of my young son only a few years into our life together as an adoptive family. He did not share my DNA but he was every bit ‘mine.’ Yet while we were both made in the image of the same God, I was becoming aware that we were two very different reflections.
In that moment I began to be confronted by much of what I had brought into the journey of adoptive parenting – most significantly my expectations about my child and how this journey would unfold. In reality I hardly knew my son, still that did not stop me from creating expectations about the things he would like and how he would act and think. On top of that, I expected that the adoption path God had led us down would be relatively easy and straightforward once we were home. I convinced myself that adoption was little more than a historical fact of how we came to be, rather than an ongoing reality of the journey that lay ahead.
Researchers have documented the profound and lasting effects that early care or the lack thereof have on the development of trust (“I am safe”), self-worth (“I am precious”) and self-efficacy (“I am heard”). In addition, developmental researchers widely acknowledge that the formative early days dramatically influence attachment relationships and also have dramatic and lasting effects on brain development and brain chemistry. Tragically, many of the children that we love and serve came into an unwelcoming world and started life amidst very difficult circumstances. These heartbreaking early harms and losses often hold our children back from developing in healthy or optimal ways and too often prevent them from developing trust and understanding just how precious they truly are.
Recently I came across an Adoptive Families Magazine article entitled Band-Aid Mom. In the article, Wendy Flemons, an adoptive mom, asks this important question – “Can a Band-Aid do more than heal a physical wound?” As simple as it may seem, this is a profoundly important question and one that adoptive dads should be equally interested in answering.
Flemons explains in the article her initial aversion to Band-Aids given the tendency of many kids to over-rely on the simple first aid supply that lacks any real inherent healing characteristics. I can relate. However, as I continue to learn more about the important and complex subject of attachment, I have discovered that Band-Aids are actually a highly relevant tool – literally and metaphorically – for adoptive and foster parents as they seek to help their children heal from the effects of their past. Writing about the experience with her 10 year old daughter who they adopted less than a year ago from Ethiopia, Flemons noted that she had learned two important things: “Children have pain beyond what we can see, and Band-Aids are not just physical objects.”
Watch as Dr. Karyn Purvis and Michael Monroe talk about the importance of meeting your child’s needs with an appropriate balance of nurture and structure in order to prepare them for success later in life.
I’ve been talking with a lot of moms lately and many of them are struggling with their kids. I get it. There are days I struggle too. The issues we face vary from the small, frustrating and everyday, to the big, infuriating and out-of-control. But no matter what the issue or challenge, the one thing I constantly remind them of, and the one thing I have to constantly remind myself of, is the need to see my kids with eyes of compassion…and to approach each and every interaction with them compassionately.
In response to meltdowns, emotional outbursts, extreme neediness, and many other behavioral challenges, adoptive and foster parents are often left asking: “why won’t my child act his or her age?”
Watch as Dr. Karyn Purvis and Michael Monroe address this important question, offering insight about the needs of adoptive and foster children and how parents can effectively meet those needs to build trust and develop a stronger connection.