Monday, February 23, 2015

The Twelve Commandments of Parenting Older Adopted Children

Children who are older when adopted are at heightened risk of disruption or dissolution.  They bring life experiences and trauma to the family which have to be navigated carefully.  However, it is possible for an older adoptee integrate into the new family. Dr. Gary Matloff, a licensed psychologist and nationally certified school psychologist, wrote an insightful article entitled, "The Twelve Commandments of Parenting Older Adopted Children" which provides some solutions for this process. Note that not all twelve commandments will be mentioned in the blog, just the ones we wanted to highlight.  There is a link at the bottom if you wish to read the entire article.

Abandonment should never be threatened 
                                       -It only reinforces fear and non-acceptance, and leads to the child's mindset                                            of "I'll reject you first".  These children challenge their parents not because                                       they want to leave, but because they want their parents to prove they are wanted.

Embrace Structure
                                       - Having a consistent routine provides the child with security and                                                           predictability.  If the rules are firmly in place, the child can begin to alter                                               his/her behavior.

Maintain honesty in all their relations with their child
                                       -Authentic relationships between people must be anchored by genuineness                                             and sincerity.  When you remain open and honest with your child they                                                   subsequently maintain their integrity and trustworthiness. Being realistic is a                                         must, as they will hold you to whatever you say.  They have experienced                                           disappointment so you must be careful of making unrealistic promises.
Check back
                                        -Often an older child will have a difficult time feeling like they are a part of                                           the family. It is important that you beat them to the emotional punch. Take                                           the initiative, rather than just expect there will be some sort of                                                           acknowledgement.  Parents should develop a ritual of hugs, a wave and  a last                                               look whenever there is separation from the child.
Time-in rather than Time-out
                                       -A time in might mean the child sits at the kitchen table while you cook, or                                            must do chores instead of being sent to their room.  Being isolated from the                                          parent reinforces their feelings of being rejected.

Pick your battles
                                     - Refrain from making an issue over something that cannot or does not need to                                      be controlled.

Keep it in perspective
                                 -Children's behavior shouldn't be taken personally, even when addressed                                                  specifically to the parent.
Forgive and Forget
                                -When the conflict is over, it is essential to forgive and forget.  Forgetting is                                         important in order to simply move on.

Link to Full Article

Drafted by Brittany Alness, staff member of the Law Offices of Karen S. Law, PLC.
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