Friday, October 06, 2006

Children who parent

**This is a "rescued post." Something I wrote and did not publish. I think I thought I should have more to say, but couldn't figure out what. Composed 10/06/06. Published 5/6/07.**

Here's the thing... there a trainings and books and support groups for adopting and fostering parents. It is never enough and they always seem to leave out the important bits (like how to cope when you are sleep deprived and emotionally exhausted the child is doing something deliberately annoying and your whole world shrinks until what the child is doing is HUGE and your patience is TINY and you want to cry and give up and the only thing that keeps you from walking out right then is that you know you can't tell people that you gave up because the kid would not stop humming loudly) but those books and training sessions and support groups exist.

But there is almost nothing available for children who foster or adopt. There is nothing out there that helps them to understand what the difference is between parenting and being a good older sibling.

When they are breaking the rules do you:
a. Ignore it
b. Try to stop them
c. Taunt them saying something like, "You are to get in so much trouble when Mom finds out."
d. Tell a parent

When they are crying do you:
a. Walk away
b. Tell them to shut up
c. Comfort them
d. Tell a parent

When they steal your things do you:
a. Let them keep it
b. Slap them
c. Steal it back
d. Tell a parent

I was a big sister. When I was ten I did not debate the answers to these questions. Without question the correct answer was c, although sometimes I did choose b. The point though is that I had an established pattern of interacting with my sister. We knew our parts in the on-going drama of our lives. Some of our patterns were healthy, many were not, but they were there.

Putting a family together out with people who have separate histories is a whole new ball game.

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